Georgia's Model Protocol
for Batterers Classes
The following model is the protocol recommended by the Georgia Commission
on Family Violence for intervention with batterers in cases of domestic
violence. It represents a compilation of principles and procedures which
local domestic violence task forces are urged to consider, as a minimum
standard, when developing strategies to stop family violence in their communities.
Three things should be noted: Shelter and support services for victims must
be available within the community. Participation in a batterers program
does not insure safety for victims. Not all batterers are appropriate candidates
for batterers counseling/education programs.
SUMMARY OF BATTERERS PROTOCOL
1. No mandatory counseling or joint participation in batterers counseling
should be required of the victim in any approved batterers program.
2. This intervention program should not be in lieu of criminal consequences,
i.e., jail time, community service, fines, etc.
3. After accusation or indictment, diversion programs are not recommended
where justice is not served [see Georgia Commission on Family Violence Judicial
Protocol page 5(C.6)].
4. Batterers programs must be in compliance with protocol and standards
adopted by circuit task forces.
5. Group leaders/instructors must be trained in the specific area of domestic
violence. Individuals should meet training/education requirements as set
forth on page 5(D.8). This includes a minimum of 40 hours training in domestic
6. Safety of the victim should supersede all consideration of confidentiality.
7. To insure accountability, procedures e.g. written reports should be established
to inform courts, probation, etc. of degree to which offender is in compliance
with court order.
8. Offenders should be responsible for payment of fees. A sliding fee scale
may be considered.
9. Batterers programs should be active members of the local circuit task
A MODEL BATTERERS INTERVENTION PROTOCOL
FOR FAMILY VIOLENCE INCIDENTS
The Georgia Commission on Family Violence has defined family violence as
Family violence affects all kinds of families and is criminal and unacceptable
behavior. It cuts across all social, economic, cultural, racial, age and
religious lines. Acts of family violence are both similar and different
from other criminal acts. They are similar in that the culpability of the
perpetrator is paramount in administering justice. However, family violence
is different from criminal acts which are typically isolated events where
the victim is more or less randomly picked. Violence and the persistent
threat of it by one member of a family against another less powerful member
becomes integrated into relationship patterns. Here, it becomes a primary
feature of family relationships where it is used, effectively, to define,
determine and enforce the expected behavior of the victims. This control
oriented function of violence is specific to family violence and involves
the continuous or escalating use of threats, physical harm or sexual assault
to ensure the compliance of victims. In some cases, external factors may
contribute to and exacerbate family violence, for example, alcohol use,
drug use, interpersonal conflict or confrontations, stress, witnessing or
being a victim of childhood violence, but these do not cause the violence
In many cases, these factors are present for people who do not use violence
against their loved ones. This understanding then explodes the myth that
family violence is caused by precipitating factors and establishes the assumption
that the central core of family violence is its function to establish fear
in, control of and dominance over another person. Because family violence
"..function(s) to establish fear in, control of and dominance over
another person" and "..is criminal and unacceptable behavior,"
the effective means to end it requires the following: A safe place within
the community for victims and children, away from the perpetrator's control
and domination; and Sanctions by the community appropriate for criminal
For nearly 20 years, shelters for battered women have existed in Georgia,
providing safe space for victims of family violence and their children.
Spurred by the recommendations of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence,
local task forces on family violence are developing coordinated responses
within their communities for imposing sanctions on perpetrators of family
violence. Central to this effort is the justice system, both criminal and
civil. Civil relief to victims is present through temporary protective orders.
Criminal sanctions of a consistent, strong pro-arrest response by law enforcement
agencies, combined with rigorous prosecution, appropriate adjudication,
closely monitored probation and sentences that reflect the seriousness of
the crime reinforce the community's message that battering will not be tolerated.
For batterers to experience meaningful consequences for their crime and
to have an opportunity to learn new, non-violent behavior, a useful element
of the community's response can be a batterers intervention program. Such
a program, in order to be effective, must work from a mission statement
that reflects the primacy of promoting safety for victims while holding
perpetrators accountable for their abusive behavior; be an active component
of the task force's response to the crime of battering; function as an advocate
for safety and justice for victims but not as a provider of direct service
to victims; organize within the community to raise awareness about the fact
that battering is unacceptable; be established in communities where there
are already services for victims through shelters licensed by the state
of Georgia. conduct behavioral/educational groups for batterers which have
as their purpose to hold abusers accountable for and to end members' violent
and controlling behaviors.
This document will address the following essential elements of a Batterers
Intervention Program: minimum standards for the constituent elements of
a program, including intake procedures, contracts and curriculum for a batterers'
group/class; qualifications and training of staff; systems of accountability
to victims and victim advocates; and the role of the program in a coordinated
A Checklist for Assessing Batterers Intervention Programs will be included
as Exhibit A.
I. RECOMMENDED PROCEDURES
A. Program Structure
Batterers intervention programs should be designed to provide the batterer
with all the information needed in order to eliminate violent behavior.
Batterers are a separate category of violent offenders requiring specialized
intervention. Batterers intervention programs should focus on interrupting,
avoiding, and ending violence and abuse and on the batterer's capacity to
change. Unlike treatment with other couple's problems, they should not focus
on saving the relationship. The relationship between the batterer and the
victim may or may not work out. But before that can be decided, the violence,
threats, and intimidation must stop. Only after there is a period during
which there is no threat of violence is there even the possibility for a
victim to decide whether to stay in the relationship or whether they can
work on it.
Traditional therapy approaches to intervention with batterers, for example,
stress management, anger control, insight therapy, and couples therapy are
not recommended and are generally inappropriate because they do not address
the motivating factors that result in the perpetration of family violence.
They have been demonstrated to be ineffective and may jeopardize the safety
of the victim/partner. In couples therapy each partner needs to bring up
her/his primary concerns. When a person has battered a partner and the partner
chooses to raise that and other concerns, the standard response, whether
during the session, on the way home, or at home is often to threaten, intimidate
and abuse until the concerns are silenced. Until time has demonstrated that
the batterer can hear and respect the partner's point of view without abusive
retaliation, it is unsafe to engage in couples counseling. In some ways
stress and anger management can be quite useful to batterers. But learning
to reduce stress and manage anger does not necessarily reduce a batterers
belief that domination of a partner is appropriate nor does it challenge
the batterers willingness to enforce this belief using whatever tactics
necessary. Insight therapy may, in the long run, help a batterer see connections
between negative past experiences and choice's to abuse a partner. This
sort of personal growth work is, of course, beneficial. However, effective
interventions must focus on immediate behavioral change (ending the battering).
While the following characteristics are frequently associated with and may
contribute to a person's choice to batter a partner, battering is not caused
by personality disorders, mental illness, poor impulse control, generational
violence, other family of origin issues, communication deficits, personal
or moral deficits, disease, diminished intellect, and/or addiction. Treatment
for these problems should neither replace nor interfere with addressing
the abusive behavior, accepting responsibility for it, and addressing the
abuse of power in that relationship. Batterers intervention programs represent
one link in a chain of a comprehensive, community response to end domestic
violence and are most effective as a collaboration with the larger intervention
system. Information should be readily shared between intervention programs,
other agencies working toward ending domestic violence and the local task
force. Batterers intervention programs should be initiated only in communities
which provide shelter, safe housing, advocacy, and counseling for victims.
Intervention programs for batterers are not to be used as a substitute for
arrest, incarceration, or other legal sanctions. To do so would send the
message that this is not a serious crime as it would be if a stranger assaulted
a stranger. Programs should utilize a group or classroom format because
groups can: Provide a greater opportunity for confrontation and accountability
than individual work can; Be more successful in decreasing the batterer's
isolation and dependence upon the partner; Be more cost effective; Further
reinforce the message that battering will not be viewed as a private, "behind
closed doors" matter.
B. Intake and Screening Standards
1. Programs shall develop criteria for services and an intake form by which
batterers are screened and assessed for eligibility. During the intake process,
a batterer must admit perpetration, acknowledge the behavior as criminal
and express a desire to change. Those who do not meet these minimal standards
should receive other serious, legal consequences that send a clear message
of deterrence (i.e. jail time, fines, community service).
2. Programs shall develop a written policy for screening all program participants
for substance abuse prior to entry into a batterers group.
3. Programs shall develop a referral mechanism for persons eliminated from
program participation during the screening process.
4. Programs should make appropriate referrals for persons with other problems
that might interfere with completion of the program (ie. substance abuse,
psychiatric disorders and specialized intervention for perpetration of child
abuse and/or sexual assault).
5. Programs shall work toward compliance with the Americans with Disabilities
Act. For example programs should accommodate clients in wheelchairs and
those with hearing and visual impairments.
6. Programs shall have a written policy for notifying victim if there is
a heightened risk for abuse.
C. Program Contracts
1. Standards of Obligation of the Batterer to the Program
a. Batterers intervention programs shall establish a written agreement that
clearly delineates the obligations of the batterer to the program and consequences
for non-compliance with the agreement. The program shall review the agreement
with and furnish a copy to the batterer.
b. The program shall develop guidelines for discharge from the program,
ensuring that discharge decisions are uniform and predictable.
2. Standards of Obligation of the Program to the Batterer
a. All programs shall establish a written agreement that clearly delineates
the obligations of the program to the batterer. The program shall review
the content of the written agreement with the batterer and furnish him a
3. Confidentiality Standards
a. The contract will inform the batterer of the limits of confidentiality.
b. The contract will inform the batterer of the right of the program staff
to advise the partner and/or domestic violence program of the participant's
application, enrollment, attendance, dismissal, level of participation,
program completion and any threats of violence. When the participant is
mandated to the batterers intervention program by the court, the contract
must include a waiver which specifies that the above information may be
revealed to the probation department and the court; and that the appropriate
criminal justice agency must be apprised of a mandated batterer's failure
to participate, further acts of violence, or dismissal.
c. The contract will inform the batterer of the program's responsibility
to take safety initiatives by notifying any person at risk, including but
not limited to the victim, any children, significant others, victims's advocates
or the police, of any concerns they have about the participants potential
for violence and lethality.
d. The contract will include the Georgia mandates of reporting of suspected
child abuse to Child Protective Services of the Department of Human Resources.
Payment for one's own participation in a batterers intervention program
is one of many indicators of responsibility and should be incorporated into
the program. All batterers shall be charged for participation in batterers
intervention programs. The batterers intervention program shall establish
a fee scale to contribute to the cost of the program. Fees shall be based
on a sliding scale or an alternative system that would accommodate inability
E. Standards for Non-Compliance Dismissal
1. Batterers intervention programs shall develop a written policy outlining
the circumstances under which a batterer may be terminated before completing
2. Programs shall develop a written procedure for notifying victim/partners
when a batterer is discharged from the program.
F. Standards for Program Completion Criteria
1. Recognizing that learning alternatives to abusive and controlling behaviors
is life long work for perpetrators of domestic violence, batterers intervention
program providers shall offer classes that last at least six months .
2. The program shall establish written criteria for satisfactory completion
of the batterers intervention program. Completion of the program occurs
when the participant has consistently attended the program and cooperated
with group rules throughout the program. Under no circumstance does completion
of the program guarantee further non-violence.
3. The completion report should reflect information that can be verified,
such as consistent attendance, and cooperation with group/class expectations
throughout the program.
G. Program Curriculum Standards
1. Batterers intervention programs shall provide an orientation session
for each new participant. This orientation shall include: a. materials which
establish program requirements, procedures, and policies; and b. materials
which address the first and second components of the curriculum (the nature
of domestic violence and safety planning).
2. The program shall include a written educational curriculum based on interpersonal/re-
The curriculum shall, at a minimum, cover the following areas:
a. The nature and effects of domestic violence;
b. The development of safety planning which provides participants with the
skills and training for handling immediate conflict situations without abusive
c. The work that is necessary to bring about changes in the attitudes and
beliefs that promote family violence;
d. The skills necessary for the maintenance of non-abusive behavior which
includes learning non-violent conflict resolution, non-aggressive communication,
and maintaining positive, healthy partnerships and parenting.
e. The importance of community service which allows batterers to give something
of themselves back to the community and contribute to changing the climate
that condones violence against women.
f. Information about State Law and practice regarding domestic violence
and legal/social consequences for batterers.
H. Program Evaluation
1. Monitoring Batterers Intervention Programs Monitoring is a process by
which batterers intervention programs are designed, evaluated and restructured.
Evaluation is both structural and substantive. Monitoring of programs is
a responsibility which domestic violence programs and advocates may undertake
a. Each batterers intervention program shall establish a cooperative and
accountable working relationship with the local domestic violence programs(s)
[task force(s)/shelter(s)] for the purpose of being monitored, networking,
information-sharing, and mutual support. The batterers intervention program
shall initiate this request. Prior to the advent of monitoring, representatives
from the domestic violence program and the batterers intervention program
shall meet to establish a cooperative agreement which forms the structure
under which they work. Domestic violence programs and batterers intervention
programs across the state will most likely have aspects which are unique
to their setting and their community. When this occurs, these unique aspects
should be taken into consideration.
I. Personnel and Funding Policies
1. Standards for Staff Selection, Recruitment and Training Requirements
a. All persons providing intervention with batterers shall meet the following
All instructors who work 20 hours or more per week in the batterers intervention
program, must have completed 40 hours of orientation and initial training
before they work unsupervised with program participants. Staff, including
contract employees, who work fewer than 20 hours per week in the batterers
intervention program shall complete 20 hours of orientation and initial
training before working unsupervised with program participants.
b. The batterers intervention program provides staff with on-going training
and supervision by those with the expertise in domestic violence.
2. Staff Confidentiality
a. Standard Re: Class/Group Batterers intervention programs shall develop
policies and procedures concerning the confidentiality that will be afforded
to program participants in other aspects both within and outside the program,
for example, use of audio or video taping of group sessions, contracts with
the television or print media and community education activities.
b. Standard for Court Disclosure and Testimony Batterers intervention programs
shall develop policies about providing testimony in administrative and judicial
proceedings, addressing matters such as the scope of participation of batterers
intervention program staff in judicial or administrative proceedings and
the parameters of confidentiality in cases involving batterers mandated
by the court. The policy should specify that the court is entitled to information
about application, enrollment, attendance, potential violence or threats
of violence, lethality assessment, dismissal and justification of same,
and completion of court mandate.
c. Standard for Victims/Partners and Confidentiality Batterers intervention
programs shall not persuade nor coerce victims to waive confidentiality
and shall inform victims of the limits to confidentiality. Victims who wish
to give information to the batterers program must be informed of the limitations
of usefulness of doing so and encouraged to seek further assistance from
victim advocates. 3. Funding Guidelines Acknowledging that domestic violence
projects are presently under-funded, agencies seeking to fund services for
batterers shall not compete with victim services for funding. In addition,
batterers intervention programs shall not, in their efforts to identify
and secure funding, expect commitment and/or support from victim service
providers and/or advocates, other than in those terms which are acceptable
to the service provider.
II. BATTERERS INTERVENTION PROGRAMS AND COMMUNITY COLLABORATION
A. Standards for Collaboration with Battered Women's Shelters
Collaboration with the established local battered women's networks and programs
includes recognizing and using their knowledge and expertise, as well as
actively using their services for partners/victims of the batterer's intervention
1. Batterers intervention programs shall develop a written policy to establish
collaborative, accountable relationships with local battered women's shelters,
including information for victims about battering intervention services,
philosophy, program content, goals and limitations.
B. Standards for Batterers Intervention Programs and the Criminal
Batterers intervention programs must work in cooperation with all aspects
of the criminal justice system that come in contact with victims and with
batterers in order to improve and coordinate the criminal justice systems
response to domestic violence cases.
1. Batterers intervention programs shall establish or join a pre-existing
domestic violence/ criminal justice task force in their community.
2. Batterers intervention programs shall develop agreements and/or memoranda
of understanding with the courts concerning court mandated participation
in the program.
C. Standards for Collaboration with Substance Abuse Resources in
Collaboration with the substance abuse community includes recognizing and
using their knowledge and expertise in the field of substance abuse, as
well as coordinating their services for participants of Batterers Intervention
Program. (Please note that it is absolutely inappropriate to require the
victim to seek counselling for substance abuse.)
1. Batterers intervention programs shall develop a written policy to establish
a formal working relationship with substance abuse community resource providers.
D. Standards for Community Education
The consensus in the field of batterers intervention strongly supports the
use of multiple coordinated interventions to respond more effectively to
domestic violence. These interventions can include a strong safety network
for victims, enforced pro-arrest policies for police, pro- prosecution policies,
victim advocates within the criminal justice system and the use of probation
and incarceration as well as intervention programs for batterers. According
to experts such as Edward W. Gondolf, "A batterer's participation in
a batterer's program never occurs in isolation . . . Batterers also are
likely to be influenced by such legal interventions as protective orders,
court-mandated counselling, arrest or bail conditions" (Gondolf 1987a)
and furthermore, "it may be that program effectiveness is related more
to the system of interventions present in a particular community than to
the activity of one particular program." (Gondolf 1987b).
1. Batterers intervention programs, in consultation and collaboration with
domestic violence programs as well as criminal justice and other human services
programs, shall carefully develop community education, training and prevention
materials and disseminate these broadly. The purpose of these efforts is
to change community attitudes and institutional responses toward domestic
violence. In this way, communities can effectively hold the batterers accountable
for their violence by confronting them with negative consequences should
they continue to abuse their intimate partners, and by protecting victims'
rights to violence-free lives.
(Exhibit A) Checklist for Assessing Batterers Intervention Programs
Couples counseling, family counseling, and mediation are not appropriate
interventions with perpetrators of family violence. No mandatory counseling
or joint participation in batterers counseling should be required of the
victim. Appropriate referrals to shelters may be offered to the victim.
Safety of the victim should supersede all consideration of confidentiality.
Batterers intervention programs are obligated to screen individuals for
their appropriateness to participate in a batterers intervention class/group.
Not all perpetrators are good candidates for batterers programs. (See 7
Is there a program in your judicial circuit which specifically provides
services/advocacy to battered women?
Does the batterers intervention program have a letter of recommendation
from the local program for victims of family violence? This must be renewed
Is the batterers program a member of the local task force on family violence?
Does the batterers program have a written mission statement that reflects
the primacy of victim safety and accountability of the perpetrator?
Does the batters program have agreements regarding how it will work in conjunction
with the courts and probation departments?
Does the batterers intervention program require a participant to sign a
contract that spells out the perpetrator's obligation to the program and
the program's obligation to the perpetrator?
Does the batterers program have a process for notifying the court if participant
is inappropriate or problematic?
Does the program last at least six months and are the participants attending
weekly meetings? Are meeting days and times varied to allow for work schedules?
Are there meaningful consequences when a participant breaches a contract?
Does the program have content that is outlined in written form?
Have direct services staff been trained in family violence issues?
A minimum of 40 hours of training specific to the field of family violence
Bibliography of Curricula Available:
AMEND: Breaking the Cycle, Philosophy and Curriculum for Treating Batterers
. Michael Lindsey, Robert McBride, and Constance Platt; Gylantic Publishing
Company; Littleton CO, 1993.
The Duluth Model: Education Groups for Men Who Batter . Ellen Pence, Michal
Paymar; Springer Publishing Company; New York, 1993.
EMERGE: Program Manual for First Stage Groups . EMERGE Staff. Available
from EMERGE 2380 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02140.
Men Stopping Violence: A Program for Change . Dick Bathrick, Kathleen Carlin,
Gus Kaufman, Jr., Rich Vodde. Available from Men Stopping Violence: 1020
DeKalb Ave. #25, Atlanta, GA 30307.
Richard H. Blum, MSW;
For more information on the Georgia Standards contact:
337 S. Milledge Ave., # 206; Athens, Ga. 30605
706/369-0078 (voice & fax)
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