Batterer Intervention: Does it work?

Sep. 7, 2014
Researchers Study Program to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence

One in five women in the U.S. will fall victim to intimate partner violence.  While successful programs exist to identify and treat victims, there is a void in proven interventions for perpetrators of domestic violence.  Finding effective ways to stop known abusers before they act again, however, could dramatically reduce harm to potential victims, their families, and society.  To that end, researchers from the University of Rochester are collaborating with the Delphi Drug and Alcohol Council in Rochester to evaluate Delphi’s batterer intervention program.  Participants in this program undergo 26 weeks of group therapy designed to increase their sense of accountability and responsibility.

“Many people believe that programs like this are effective, but treating this population is very complicated.  Many batterers have witnessed family violence or were victims of abuse as children.  Many have personality and substance abuse problems that complicate treatment,” says Marc T. Swogger, Ph.D., UR Medicine psychologist and assistant professor at the School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD).  “We plan to generate data regarding the effectiveness of Delphi’s program, as well as begin to find evidence indicating for whom the program works best.”

“Having this data will allow us to better inform judges and other referral sources, so they can appropriately make use of the program to help prevent recidivism,” says Carl Hatch-Feir, president and CEO of Delphi.

In addition, the findings will be presented to the Rochester/Monroe County Domestic Violence Consortium, a group of more than 50 local organizations working to protect victims and hold offenders accountable.  The study will include forms for clients to give feedback on their experiences in the program, client focus groups, and a review of data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services on participants' behavior following their treatment.

Co-primary investigators Swogger and Hatch-Feir are leading the research team, which includes additional investigators from the SMD, the School of Nursing, and the Laboratory of Interpersonal Violence and Victimization.  The effort is funded by a $20,000 Community Partnership Development Award, offered annually by the University’s Office of Mental Health Promotion.  The award is intended to promote new collaborations that aim to improve mental health in the community.