Batterers’ intervention programmes

  • Legislation that provides for batterers’ intervention programmes as an option for violent offenders must ensure that such programmes do not replace criminal sanctions for violations of protection orders or for acts of violence. Such programs must be carefully regulated so as not to create excuses for offenders and so that survivors are not required to have contact with offenders. See UN Handbook, 3.11.6; and law of Spain Law of Spain. 

Example: The  Law of Georgia places the responsibility for rehabilitation centres for abusers with  specific ministries and states that “Such centres shall meet standards set by the Ministry of Labour, Healthcare and Social Protection for institutions of such kind and ensure temporary placement, psychological assistance and treatment of abusers.”  Article 20.

For an example of detailed standards for program structure, accountability, curriculum and administrative guidelines, see Coalition for the Treatment of Abusive Behavior  and Virginians Against Domestic Violence , “Virginia Standards for Batterer Intervention Programs,” revised August, 2010.

 Example: A batterer’s intervention program which is provided only where sufficient services to complainant/survivors are funded; and where the program is consistently supervised by victim advocates for risks to the safety of the complainants/survivors.


CASE STUDY: Mandated court compliance in batterer intervention programs affects program completion and re-arrest rates.

A study of the court review process for men referred to batter intervention programs by the Domestic Violence Court in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, found that strict standards for compliance and immediate consequences for non-compliance increased attendance at and completion of the batterer intervention program.  The study also concluded that completion of the program, coupled with the mandatory court review for compliance, lowered recidivism.

At the time of the study, about 20-30% of men arrested on domestic violence charges in Pittsburgh were referred to batterer intervention programs, but records indicated that many men did not, in fact, report to the program, and of those who did, nearly one-half failed to complete the program. For this study, the men who were referred to batterer counseling had to reappear in court in 30 days to verify their participation in the batterer intervention program, and again after 60 days to verify that they had completed the program. If the court did not receive evidence of compliance, or if evidence of non-compliance was received, a warrant for the arrest of the batterer was issued.

When there were immediate and sure consequences to non-compliance, the number of men who did not complete the program dropped from one-half to one-third. And, those who completed the program were half as likely to be re-arrested for assault as those not referred to the program.

See: Gondolf, Edward W. (1998), The Impact of Mandatory Court Review on Batterer Program Compliance: An evaluation of the Pittsburgh Municipal Courts and Domestic Abuse Counseling Center.