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


In 1999, the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance (ICDVVA, 2005) established standards for batterer treatment and intervention for those individuals found guilty of domestic violence under Idaho Statute18-918 through the Idaho court system. In Idaho, those who plead guilty or are found guilty of domestic battery must undergo, at their own expense, an evaluation by a court-approved person, agency, or organization to determine whether the defendant will be required to complete aggression counseling or other state-approved treatment (Idaho Statutes, 2006).

When this treatment is mandated by the court, it is to be provided through a state-approved program under the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance. The state-approved programs meet the standards adopted by the council in 1999, revised in 2002, and updated in 2005 (ICDVVA, 2005).

Batterer intervention through the Idaho treatment programs are implemented by service providers holding a minimum of a bachelor's degree. The programs include collaboration with victim service programs, the judicial system, probation and parole, health care organizations, court services, and others involved in the coordinated community response to domestic violence. These programs constitute 52 weeks of treatment using primarily a cognitive behavioral approach, facilitated in a group session format.

One of the most promising methodological innovations for addressing domestic violence has been the Duluth Model. Developed in the early 1980s, the Duluth Model has advocated for the reformation of the criminal justice system through effective coordinated community response to domestic violence involving an interdisciplinary team of professionals. The components of the model include pro-arrest or mandatory arrest policies, follow-up support and advocacy for victims, prosecution, monitoring of offender compliance with probation conditions, court-mandated participation in batterer intervention programs, and monitoring of system-wide response to domestic violence cases. Internationally, communities have expanded this model to fit their specific needs (Pence & Paymar, 1993; Shepard, 2005). Idaho standards for batterer intervention were largely developed following the Duluth Model among other more recently established curriculum models from other states.

While there is some research showing that batterer intervention programs are having the desired effect on the batterer, the literature is sparse on the impact victims believe the treatment has had on the batterer, particularly as it relates to the relationship, their safety, accountability for the use of violence, and a change in the behavior of the perpetrator. Although some studies have shown treatment programs for batterers have had some success, there is still much room for improvement (Cavanaugh & Gelles, 2005; Holtzworth-Munroe & Meehan, 2004; Mears & Visher, 2005).


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