Barriers to Treatment

  • You may expect problems regarding the availability of adequate services. This is especially the case where services matching the specific characteristics and/or needs of certain perpetrators are lacking; some services for perpetrators may not have culturally or linguistically competent staff, and thus may be unsuitable for minority, immigrant, or gay/lesbian people.
  • Many abusers do not acknowledge the seriousness of their behavior and resist taking responsibility for their behavior. They may believe that the violence is caused by their partner's behavior, by their own substance abuse, or by their psychological problems. Alternatively, they may not see their behavior as problematic.
  • Often, people who are abusive to their intimate partners resist identifying themselves as "batterers" and may be more willing to seek psychotherapy or substance abuse treatment. As indicated above, such treatments may be warranted for other reasons, but they have not proven effective in stopping violence.
  • Most batterer intervention programs charge fees, which some perpetrators may not be able to pay. Others may be very resistant to pay the fees most programs charge. Before making a referral, it is advisable to first find out the fee structure of the program, including whether they have a sliding fee or otherwise make provisions for indigent clients.
  • In Massachusetts, the Department of Children and Families contracts with batterers' intervention programs, and some batterers referred by DCF (in cases where there is an open child protection case) may be able to attend a program without paying a fee.
  • The evidence is that those who actually attend Batterer Intervention Programs and stay throughout the duration of the program do reduce their violent behavior. Approximately 50% fail to complete their programs, however. Though high, this drop out rate is comparable to substance abuse programs. Those who do drop out often complete the program at a later date.
  • An unintended risk of batterer treatment programs is that partners or their allies may relax safety precautions on the assumption that the battering will now stop or otherwise develop false hopes that he/she will change. Unfortunately, this level of confidence is not warranted, and survivors should be urged to continue to develop and follow safety plans. Batterer intervention programs caution victims against developing false hopes and make referrals for victim services. Studies of the impact of batterer intervention programs on victims have generally been positive. For instance, many victims say that they feel better informed about their partner and validated about not being responsible for his/her abuse.

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