• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

One of the most burning debates in the domestic violence field is over the effectiveness of batterer programs and how to improve them. Batterer Intervention Systems responds to this debate with research from a multi-site evaluation of batterer programs—the most comprehensive and extensive evaluation to date. It critiques current experimental evaluations, exposes the complex issues of evaluation, and presents alternatives to assessing effectiveness. A four-year follow-up of program participants reveals a surprising de-escalation of abuse, a subgroup of unresponsive repeat reassaulters, and the difficulty in identifying the most dangerous men. Conventional batterer counseling appears to be appropriate for the vast majority of men. Most of all, the book shows that the "system" matters and can be improved through some straightforward adjustments. 

Evidence of a Program Effect
Evidence of a program effect

The difficult question facing batterer programs is this: Are they effective beyond arrest and court action? The reassault rates of the program participants in our evaluation appeared to de-escalate, but we cannot be sure that this outcome was attributable to the programs. The men could have been deterred by the arrests, courts, or probation supervision. The experimental program evaluations, discussed in Chapter 3, suggest that there may, in fact, have been no program effect. Our expectation was that the programs must contribute something to achieve the dramatic de-escalation in reassault. It is hard to imagine that the arrests and courts would in themselves account for such an outcome.

We also need to ask whether certain programs are ...

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