In the situation of wife battering, help is focused on removing the victim from harm's way, but batterer's interventions are possible as well. In a batterer intervention, treatment is focused on the domestic abuser. Batterer's interventions have several aims, depending on their underlying theory, but the main goal is to stop the batterer from committing violence.
Batterer intervention programs may be psychoeducational classes, couples therapy or group process depending on the type of intervention. The three main types of batterer interventions are:1
- Family systems
However, in practice, theories are combined to provide a better overall outcome.
Feminist Batterer Interventions
Batterer intervention programs started in the early 1970s thanks to the aid of feminists bringing awareness to violence against women. Feminists feel that batterering relates to a gender analysis of power. Specifically, battering happens due to a patriarchal society in which men attempt to assert their supposed rightful dominance over women in the home. To a batterer, women are childlike and incapable.
In feminist batterer interventions, the "equality wheel" is taught. This is to produce an equal and democratic relationship. Ideas taught include:
- Conflict resolution – negotiation and fairness
- Nonthreatening behavior
- Trust and support
- Honesty and accountability
- Responsible parenting
- Shared responsibilities
- Economic partnerships
While many batterer interventions attempt to change the participant's views of gender roles, this theory alone does not explain the many ways in which battering occurs, such as in same sex couples.
Family Systems Model Batterer Interventions
In the family systems model, domestic violence is considered to be a manifestation of a dysfunctional family unit rather than identifying an individual as the problem. This model advocates for family counselling, an understanding of how interactions can lead to conflict and a holding together of the family unit.
Family systems model batterer interventions teach:
- Conflict resolution and communication skills
- To locate the problem through interactions rather than through one individual
- To focus on solving the problem rather than on blaming a cause
- To accentuate the positive such as when violence was avoided
While many couples, even when battering occurs, wish to stay together, this batterer intervention has inherent problems and some feel may even cause violence if the victim truly expresses themselves during a couples counselling session.
Psychological Batterer Interventions
Several types of psychological batterer interventions are also available. Both psychoanalytic and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) batterer interventions exist and the two types are often combined.
In psychoanalytic batterer interventions, violence is seen as being caused by a personality disorder or a past trauma. The psychological source of battering may be due to growing up in an abusive home, not having childhood needs met or early rejection. These batterer interventions are either in individual or group settings, wherein the unconscious root of the problem is sought through psychoanalysis. The aim is to then deal with the problem consciously and remove the motive for aggression.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also used in batterer interventions. This therapy focuses on the here and now of conscious thought and action. In CBT, men are thought to batter because:
- They are acting out examples of abuse they have seen or lived (such as in childhood)
- Abuse is rewarded
- It enables the batterer to get what he wants
- Abuse is reinforced through victim compliance and submission
CBT focuses on understanding belief systems and actions, building new psychological skills and changing "self-talk." CBT works to identify the chain of events that lead to battering.
Do Batterer Interventions Work?
There is no clear study that proves which batterer intervention is superior but most experts agree that the most effective batterer intervention program combines aspects of each model in an individual fit for each situation.