Facts & Figure 1-4 million cases annually. Approximately 25-33% of women will experience partner violence. About 50% of mental health clients have histories of partner violence. As many as 1/3 of the visits by women to the ER are for treatment of injuries resulting from partner violence. 30% of female homicide victims are killed by current or former partners. Partner violence is associated with the stability of the intimate relationship. Married women experience lower levels of domestic violence. Substance abuse may be a factor in half of the cases of partner violence.
Partner Violence tends to be exhibited early in the tenure of a relationship and it tends to escalate over time. 50% of victimized women will eventually contact the police. Separating from the batterer increases one’s risk for serious injury or death.
Consequences of Partner Violence Psychological distress & disorders. Medical problems & injuries. Constant fear & stress. Learned helplessness. Negative effects for children involved. Co-Morbid Problems: suicide attempts, substance abuse, child abuse in victim’s family, mood disorders.
Why do people batter? CulturalIndividual Violence is condoned as a means for exerting power & control over women. Modeling & Exchange Theory. Violence is an acceptable means of solving problems in our society. Fears of Abandonment Personality Problems: jealousy, aggression, dependency, poor impulse control, & possessiveness Alcohol & Drug abuse.
Why do victims stay? ExternalIndividual Lack of financial resources. Intermittent Reinforcement. Cultural or religious admonitions to keep relationship intact. Cognitive Barriers: Learned Helplessness, selective memory, & normalization of abuse. Threats of increased violence or threats against the victim’s children. Pygmalion Project. Fear of Stigmatization. Identity Issues. Lack of protection from judicial system. Dependency Problems.
Antecedents to Help-Seeking Behavior Severe battering incident resulting in physical injuries. Recent escalation in pattern of violence. Death threats. High-profile cases in the news media. Child Abuse. Victim attempts to exert independence.
Safety Planning Evaluate for suicide/homicide risks. Identify Potential Warning Signs of Violence. Identify specific steps to take in a dangerous situation (e.g., safe places to stay, phone numbers, escape plan). Options if Domestic Violence Occurs: 1. Press Assault Charges. 2. Order of Protection from court. 3. Protective Services from the Cabinet.
CI Strategies Don’t be afraid to bring up the topic of relationship violence. Duty to report domestic violence in KY. Reinforce client for taking action, regardless of how small it might be. Resolve immediate needs (medical, housing, financial). Identify potential resources (internal & external). Education about legal options, cycle of abuse, & available community services (e.g., legal aid, job training).
Social Support (e.g., Support Groups). Avoid being too directive. Provide victim with information and choices, and encourage her to make her own decision. Importance of follow-up contact.
Treatment for Batterers The judicial system’s response to DV has evolved from avoidance to mediation to aggressive prosecution. 2/3 of men assigned to treatment programs drop out. Unfortunately, many batterers do not receive any negative consequences for noncompliance with court orders. Most programs are offered in a group-format & focus on Anger Management or consciousness raising (Duluth model).
Typical Program Objectives Reduce battering. Attitude changes. Promote personal responsibility. Education about partner violence. Learn alternative means of managing anger and for getting one’s needs met. Increase empathy for victims. Skill Development: Communication/Assertiveness, Stress Management, & Problem-Solving Skills. Reduce A & D Abuse.
Do these programs work? Approximately 33% of batterers who complete these programs experience recidivism, comparable to the recidivism rate for those who do not complete treatment. Those who complete these programs tend to have slightly better outcomes than those who do not. [A recent study (2004) found that treatment programs may only reduce recidivism by about 5%.] However, any “improvements” may be attributable to pre-existing differences between completers and dropouts, not the programs themselves.
After legal system intervention, batterers may redirect their physical aggression into more verbal abuse. Some research suggests that swift arrest and punishment may be just as effective as “treatment programs” in reducing recidivism. A few studies indicate that couples therapy may be as effective (or ineffective) as traditional group, anger management programs.