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August 1, 2007

Improving Batterer Intervention Programs Through Theory-Based Research

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Butler Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island (Drs Stuart and Temple); and Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Dr Moore). Dr Temple is now with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.

JAMA. 2007;298(5):560-562. doi:10.1001/jama.298.5.560

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major public health concern, with at least 1.3 million women abused annually in the United States.1 In the 1980s, states began passing mandatory arrest laws that required police officers responding to domestic violence calls to make arrests when there was evidence of probable cause of violence perpetration. The proliferation of these laws inevitably led to increasing numbers of male batterers (defined here as men who are arrested for aggression against a partner) entering the criminal justice system. In a rush to address the needs of abused women, states began implementing batterer intervention programs attempting to reduce IPV recidivism. Most jurisdictions require some intervention postarrest for partner-violent men, and the majority of men in these programs have been court ordered to attend.2 Unfortunately, the overwhelming demand for and expansion of these programs outpaced research efforts assessing their efficacy. An increasing proportion of women are being arrested for partner violence and mandated to attend batterer intervention programs. Although our focus is on male offenders, additional attention should be directed toward evaluating and improving these programs for women, particularly considering that they may have distinct needs from men and would likely benefit from a different form of intervention.