Batterer intervention programs (BIPs) are courses attended by batterers. These programs are designed to educate and rehabilitate them by teaching them to react to various situations non-violently. BIPs have been shown to help with domestic violence and other forms of batterer behaviors.
Fifth Street Counseling Center uses cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to change the way batterers approach their emotions and their actions towards those around them.
What Is Battering?
Battering includes physical, psychological, and/or sexual abuses. These can take the form of:
- Physical violence. Physical abuse includes any type of unwanted physical behavior against a partner, usually resulting in physical harm or injury.
- Intimidation. Any action that reminds a victim of the potential for physical violence.
- Manipulation. Passive-aggressive behavior, withholding information, verbal abuse, gas-lighting, and dishonesty are all ways in which the victim can be manipulated by the batterer.
- Isolation. Taking control over who the victim can see or speak to, including friends, family, or colleagues.
- Emotional abuse. Verbal insults, undermining of self-confidence, and making the victim feel responsible for the abuse.
- Economic coercion. Controlling someone through their finances.
- Assertion of privilege. The majority of batterers are male and use their male privilege to enforce their right to control the household and make all important family decisions.
What Is A Batterer Intervention Program (BIP)?
Battering behavior does not stem solely from anger. Often times, underlying mental illnesses or substance abuse also play a role in the life of someone who is abusive to another person.
Batterer intervention programs make the assumption that abusive responses are learned behavior, motivated by the conscious or unconscious desire for control of the victim. In fact, research has found that abusive partners intend to enforce what they believe to be their rights. Battering behavior is less likely to be as a result of mental illness because the behavior is rooted in logic and rationalization.
Some batterers do have diagnosable mental illnesses, but BIPs typically treat these as a separate issue. Referrals for treatment, such as mental health counseling, are provided if the doctor feels it’s necessary.
Individuals are able to voluntarily participate in batterer intervention programs. However, data shows that 80% of participants are referred via the justice system. These programs are regulated in most states by meeting certification standards, which are either legally binding or act as guidelines for the program.
Goals Of Batterer Intervention
The primary aim of a batterer intervention program is learn to feel empathy for their victims. In addition, there are a few core ideals that they will be taught.
Perpetrators will learn to:
- Pinpoint negative thoughts and self-talk that precedes acts of violence. When a perpetrator knows which thoughts and beliefs trigger batterer actions, they can pre-empt further abuse.
- Identify different forms of abuse. Participants will be taught to recognize the type of abuse they have partaken in.
- Take responsibility for actions. Part of the participants’ developing empathy is acknowledging that they are responsible for the harm they have caused. Emphasis is placed on the fact that while the participant may feel angry or upset, it is a choice to respond violently.
- Develop non-abusive responses. Since battering is learned behavior, abusive responses can be unlearned. Participants will learn how to respond to scenarios that they typically responded to in violence in a non-abusive manner.
Facilitators in BIPs will challenge participants’ beliefs, attitudes, and denial of abuse. This helps them examine the origin of their actions so they can reframe their thinking and begin empathizing and respecting their partners. Negative and often sexist beliefs are shifted into respectful ideals, leading to safety and security for victims of abuse.
When communities coordinate their efforts to hold batterers responsible for their actions and to protect victims of domestic abuse, perpetrators of domestic violence have a higher chance of ending their abusive behaviors.
Most batterer intervention programs incorporate a strategy that begins with developing a communal understanding of what domestic violence is. Once established, social norms that allow for domestic violence are singled-out and changed or removed entirely. Each member of the community works together to build a system that protects victims and provides for their immediate needs.
Law enforcement officers, clergy, health care providers, and the media play a huge role in defining the communities’ social norms and hold batterers accountable for their actions – which has been shown to help change abusive behavior.
Batterer Intervention Could Save Your Life
If you are a victim of any form of battering or abuse, your safety is our top priority. It’s important for victims of abuse to realize that abusive actions do not need to be tolerated. And, since it is learned behavior, it can be unlearned under the right conditions.
Fifth Street Counseling Center offers a supportive environment for those participating in BIPs. And, in light of the current health crisis surrounding COVID-19, we have launched a tele-health video counseling platform that allows us to safely continue our mental health services from the comfort of your own home.
Contact us today at (954) 797-5222 to find out more about your options regarding batterer intervention programs.