Women's Perceptions of the Impact of a Domestic Violence Treatment Program for Male Perpetrators

Karen S. Hayward, PhD, RN, SANE-A; Susan Steiner, PhD, RNC, FNP; Kathy Sproule, MS, RN, FNP-C


J Foren Nurs. 2007;3(2):77-83. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


This qualitative descriptive study examined women´s perceptions of a court mandated batterer treatment program that their spouse or partner participated in following arrest for domestic violence. Although the women felt treatment had a positive impact on several factors, their feedback helped identify possible improvements in batterer treatment programs.


Domestic violence is recognized as a criminal justice problem as well as a major public health issue affecting the lives of women and children. Recognized as a primary cause of injury to women, domestic abuse consists of assaultive and coercive behaviors that can include physical, sexual, psychological, economic, and other forms of violence having immediate, intermediate, and long-term impact on the lives of families worldwide (Eisenstat & Bancroft, 1999; Wen-Li, Hsiu-Hung, & Hsin-Hsin, 2005; Woodtli, 2001).

Although men are also the victims of domestic violence, 90% of the victims are women and children (Eisenstat & Bancroft, 1999). Violence is a significant societal concern with victimization often resulting in physical and psychological impact on the lives of women requiring health intervention and treatment (Kramer, 2002; Monahan & O'Leary, 1999). Women who are abused by an intimate partner often have more severe physical and mental health problems than women who are assaulted by a stranger, as the sacred bond of trust is shattered. Domestic violence victims struggle with emotions not experienced by victims of strangers and work through feelings of fear, loyalty, love, self blame, shame, and guilt (Burgess, 2002).

Batterer treatment programs have been developed across the United States to offer intervention for men who batter their female partners and to provide judges with options other than fines and/or incarceration. These programs have been developed to reduce -- if not eliminate -- further violence toward women. Primary strategies include increasing the level of protection for victims and holding offenders accountable for the use of violence in a relationship. Further, goals of batterer intervention programs have been to change behavior and attitudes of the offender, foster effective communication techniques, and develop social problem-solving skills. Currently 43 states have state standards in place for batterer intervention programs. (Austin & Dankwort, 1998; Batterer Intervention Services Coalition of Michigan (n.d.); Scott, 1999).

Current literature indicates that health care professionals are in a unique position to respond to the issues surrounding domestic violence. Now more than ever before, with domestic violence recognized as a public health crisis, it is necessary for health care providers to be knowledgeable about identifying, evaluating, and treating victims and perpetrators of this violence (Bateman & Whitehead, 2004; DeCherney & Nathan, 2003).


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