RHODE ISLAND COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
HISTORY OF THE ORGANIZATION
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence was incorporated in
1979 to assist and support Rhode Island's shelters for battered women in
statewide planning and development. The Coalition and our six member agencies
have been providing services to victims of domestic violence for the last
fifteen years, consistently expanding services in an attempt to provide
the comprehensive support battered women need.
As part of our services to our member agencies, the Coalition applies for
and manages several grants, and distributes funds to each member agency.
We publish two newsletters: Voices Against Violence and Help Link, which
together catalog resources available for victims throughout the state, chronicle
statewide efforts to improve public policy, and provide a forum for information
exchange regarding domestic violence. The Coalition also has available a
library of resources including books, publications, and the newsletters
of coalitions across the United States.
In addition to providing support to our member agencies, the Coalition works
both locally and nationally to improve public policy on the issue of domestic
violence. We place a high priority on collaboration with local and national
domestic violence programs. Nationally, we are an active member of the Domestic
Violence Coalition on Public Policy and the National Coalition Against Domestic
Violence. Locally, the Coalition and its members work with the Supreme Court
Task Force on Domestic Violence, the Attorney General's Working Group on
Domestic Violence, and the Crime Victim Service Providers Steering Committee
to try to develop an interdisciplinary community response to the problem
of domestic violence.
Since 1988, the Coalition has administered a statewide victim advocacy program
-m in District Court. Through this program, nearly 35,000 victims of domestic
violence crimes have received comprehensive assistance. In addition, the
Coalition oversees the management of the Restraining Order Office in the
Garrahy Judicial Complex, serving nearly 3,000 victims of abuse each year.
The Coalition and its member agencies have a recognized track record of
successfully administering and implementing effective programs for victims
of domestic violence. As an association of organizations, we have more of
the strength, unity and political clout necessary to confront domestic violence
on institutional levels and, thereby, to effect changes in services, policies,
laws and public attitudes.
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence
422 Post Rd., Suite 104,
Warwick, RI 0 2 8 8 8
List of Member Organizations
The Blackstone Shelter
Post Office Box 5643
Pawtucket, RI 0 2 8 6 2
723-3057 (hot line & business)
Elizabeth Buffum Chace House
Post Office Box 9476
Warwick, RI 0 2 8 8 9
738-1700 (hot line & business)
One Richmond Square, Suite 225W
Providence, RI 0 2 9 0 6 - 5 1 3 9
658-4334 (Providence hot line)
765-3232 (Northern RI hot line)
Women's Center of Rhode Island
Post Office Box 3300
Providence, RI 0 2 9 0 6
861-2760 (hot line & business)
Women's Resource Center of South County
61 Main Street '
Wakefield, RI 0 2 8 7 9
782-3990 (Wakefield hot line)
348-0160 (Westerly hot line)
Women's Resource Center-- Serving Newport & Bristol Counties
114 Touro Street
Newport, RI 0 2 8 4 0
847-2533 (Newport hot line)
247-2070 (Bristol Cty. hot line)
625-1144 (Tiverton hot line)
RHODE, ISLAND COALITION
AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Suggested Guidelines For Batterer's Program Standards
1.1 OVERVIEW AND BACKGROUND
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence is an association of
organizations working to eliminate domestic abuse. The Coalition is recommending
these standards of performance to organizations providing or interested
in providing services to perpetrators of domestic abuse (batterers). The
intent of these guidelines is to encourage quality services which stop perpetrators
from committing further abuse, and which provide safety for, and accountability
to, victims of domestic abuse.
In 1988, the Rhode Island Legislature passed the Domestic Violence Prevention
Act which, among other things, established a law mandating a police officer
to make an arrest it he/she has probable cause to believe that a domestic
violence crime has been committed.
Section 12-29-5 of the Rhode Island General Law states:
Every person convicted of or placed on probation for a crime involving domestic
violence or where the case is filed pursuant to RI General Law Section 12-10-12
where the defendant pleads nolocontendare, in addition to any other sentence
imposed or counseling ordered, shall be ordered by said judge to attend
to Counseling" appropriate to address his or her violent behavior at
a program with demonstrated expertise in "counseling" domestic
The dramatic increase in the number of arrests since passage of the new
mandatory arrest law has resulted in an increase in the demand for programs
for perpetrators. More agencies and private practitioners are offering batterers
programs or counseling for domestic abuse issues than ever before. Given
the recent proliferation of batterers programs, it is imperative that these
programs do everything possible to ensure the safety of battered women.
The following principles are based on national and local expertise in the
provision of services to men who batter, with the primary goal of ending
the violence and ensuring the safety of battered women.
1.2 STANDARDS FOR PRACTICE
The following principles are endorsed by the Rhode Island Coalition Against
Domestic Violence and represent minimum standards of practice by agencies
providing services to batterers. These principles are intended to ensure
the future safely of victims by holding both the perpetrators and the programs
which serve them accountable. Accountability is a process whereby men who
batter, and their service provider, make themselves available for scrutiny
and feedback on their efforts to end domestic violence, acts of domination
and coercion and of fear-inducing conduct. (Hart, 1992, p. 17) The concept
of "demonstrated expertise," per Rhode Island General Law, Section
12-29-5, is incorporated into these principles.
Several states have adopted batterers program guidelines because they, like
Rhode Island, are .concerned about the safety of victims of domestic violence
and the provision of effective programs for batterers which address the
core issue of their abuse of their intimate partners. Much of what appears
within the following text Is a compilation of standards currently used in
Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New York-and Pennsylvania. Following
are the seven main purposes for our intervention standards (adopted from
Hart, 1992, pp. 2-3):
These principles may not adequately address all concerns or issues of programs
providing intervention with batterers. The Rhode Island Coalition Against
Domestic Violence encourages feedback, comment and dialogue regarding these
Adoption of these guidelines does not constitute endorsement of the program
1.3 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Domestic Abuse is emotional, physical, sexual, or economic abuse which is
used by one person to gain and or maintain power and control over another
person in an intimate relationship. Domestic abuse, a pattern of learned
behaviors, occurs regardless of marital status, age, sexual orientation,
or the racial, cultural, educational, religious or economic backgrounds
of those involved. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women
in our country. "Domestic violence is damaging to all family members
and to society. It has adverse, long-term psychological, emotional, physical,
and economic effects." (Hart, 1992, p. 5)
Various other "domestic abuse" terms appear throughout these principles.
The following definitions apply.
Battering: The systematic terrorization and/or domination of one
person by another. Prior instances of physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional
abuse and threats of repetition create an atmosphere of extreme terror and
of coerced accommodation of the perpetrator. (Hart, 1 992, pp. 15-16)
Batterers' Programs: An intervention program offered by an agency
or individual designed specifically to address issues of abuse, power and
control as used against one's Intimate partner.
Domestic Violence Crimes: Domestic violence Includes, but Is not
limited to any of the following crimes when committed by spouses, former
spouses, Individuals who have resided together at some time in the past
three years, individuals who have a child in common, those individuals who
are related by blood or marriage, and those who are involved in a substantive
dating relationship: simple assault, felony assaults, vandalism, disorderly
conduct, trespassing, kidnapping, child-snatching, sexual assault, homicide,
and violation of the provisions of a Protective Order where the respondent
has knowledge of the order and the penalty for violation thereof (RI General
Laws, Section 12-29-2).
Facilitator: The person or persons who deliver the information, curriculum,
or content of the batterers program.
Responsibility Plan: "A component of the treatment contract
for men who batter. It is an individualized and step-by-step plan drawn
up collaboratively between the intervention participant and the facilitator.
The plan outlines basic steps the client agrees to tale to defuse dangerous
situations and assure the safety of his partner in conflict situations.
Responsibility plans can be crafted on successfully broader areas of coercive
control; delineating how the client will take responsibility for divesting
himself of behaviors he uses to maintain dominance." (Hart, 1992, p.
2. PROGRAM PHILOSOPHY AND PRINCIPLES
A batterers' program modality is considered to be inappropriate if it places
blame on the victim, asks the victim to take any amount of responsibility
for the batterer's violence, intimidates the victim, or assumes equal power
within the abusive relationship.
3 ETHICAL STANDARDS
3.1 In addition to the standards established by professional groups with
which treatment providers are affiliated, e.q. NASW, intervention programs
must maintain standards including but not limited to:
4. CONFIDENTIALITY AND DUTY TO WARN
Because of the severity of injuries and the number of deaths caused by domestic
violence, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence strongly
recommends that the least restrictive policy regarding confidentiality be
implemented. For the same reasons, the broadest interpretation of duty to
warn statutes should be adopted.
4.1 All client information should be kept strictly confidential except under
the following conditions for which a waiver of confidentiality shall be
5. PROGRAM OPERATIONS AND DISCLOSURES
5.1 In order to ensure maximum cooperation and success in our work to end
domestic abuse, we encourage programs to work cooperatively with shelters
for victims of domestic abuse, victim's advocates, task forces formed on
behalf of battered or formerly battered women, and the criminal justice
5.2 Batterers' programs must provide thorough information about victim services
to victims who call or walk in.
5.3 Batterers' program shall provide victims with information about their
program curriculum, policies, and.procedures.
5.4 The batterers' program should be able to admit a batterer into the program
within one month of the batterers initial contact with the program. If admission
to the program Is not immediate, the program should maintain contact with
the batterer no less than once a week until the batterer begins a group.
If the program has no groups available for the batterer to start within
30 days, they should refer the batterer to another endorsed program.
5.5 If the court or probation has made a referral, the program should report
on the client's 'progress promptly, as requested by the court or probation.
If the client's behavior in the program is such that the client is dismissed,
the program shall notify the court or probation, the next business day requesting
that the client's probation be violated.
"Intervention programs have an understanding of the law on domestic
violence and the operation of the justice system. Programs are responsible
to the justice system. The following represent the minimum knowledge that
any provider must have:
5.6 Batterers' program providers should make every effort to accept all
clients regardless of their ability to pay fees.
5.7 The agency providing a batterers' program should recognize the areas
in which facilitators are at risk for tacitly or explicitly condoning behavior
that contributes to the oppression of others. This behavior on the part
of the facilitators reduces the effectiveness of the batterers' program
and places women at greater risk for continued abuse. It is important that
the batterers' program Provide an internal monitoring mechanism whose purpose
is to assist facilitators in identifying subtle ways in which this behavior
Below are ways in which facilitators may collude with batterers. These are
areas that could be discussed during supervision.
5.8 Batterer's programs must have a mechanism in place to address/ work
with/ assist batterers's calling in crisis.
5.9 "During intervention, the program obtains a thorough history of
5.9.1 Abuse, battering and control of the partner in both the present and
5.9.2 Violence involving non-intimate others; and
5.9.3 The participant's own experience as the target of abuse." (Hart,
1992, p. 20)
5.10 R an initial intake or subsequent evaluation indicates substance abuse,
the substance abuse problem shall be addressed prior to, or in conjunction
with, the batterers' program. Referrals to agencies specializing in substance
abuse may be made.
TREATMENT FOR SUBSTANCE ABUSE IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR TREATMENT
FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.BEHAVIOR AND THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW MANDATES TREATMENT
FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFFENDERS.
5.11 Assessment/evaluation should cover the following:
5.11.1 A profile of the client's behavior focusing on their abuse, and Including
their substance abuse history, mental health history, prior criminal contacts,
and their potential for harm to self or others shall be gathered from independent
descriptions from criminal justice agencies (it available), victims, any
other domestic violence agency, and other treatment providers.
6. CURRICULUM STANDARDS
6.1 We believe that a batterers program should cover at least the following
topics in its basic
7.1 The most effective programs will incorporate the following Rhode Island
Coalition Against Domestic Violence recommendations:
7.2 Group work is strongly recommended as the appropriate modality for batterers'
programs because it breaks down the silence and secrecy endemic to domestic
abuse; it also provides peer group reinforcement for non-abusive behaviors.
Groups can be either open (accepting new members on an ongoing basis) or
7.3 Groups with female/male Co-facilitators are optimal.
7.4 The program provides the victim with reports of attendance and evaluation,
upon her request.
7.5 If audio or video taping is done of groups for purposes of being released
in the public arena, partners of victims of participants shall be required
to consent to such release.
7.6 "Batterer intervention services shall maintain the confidentiality
of victims, unless confidential communications are specifically waived by
the victim in writing or there is reasonable cause to believe that the victim
may be in imminent danger. Batterer intervention services shall not persuade
nor coerce victims to waive confidentiality and shall inform victims of
the limits to confidentiality. To avoid unintended disclosure of confidential
communications of the victim or partner to the participant, it is preferred
that workers having contact with the victim or partner be staff other than
those providing directing services to the participant.
7.7 "It is strongly advised that batterer intervention services keep
separate records for the participant and any partner or victim. Separate
record keeping reduces the risk of inadvertent disclosure. Information about
victims or partners, even in separate case records, should be kept to a
minimum and may include identifying information, including name, address,
and telephone number, methods for contacting the victim or partner in an
emergency and the telephone numbers of law enforcement agencies in the jurisdictions
where the victim or partner resides, attends school or is employed."
(Hart, 1992, p. 26)
7.8 Batterers programs shall not discriminate, in any aspect of their programs,
procedures, or operations based on race, class, age, physical handicap,
religion, educational attainment, Ethnicity, national origin, political
affiliation or sexual preference, except as the program is not able to provide
adequate intervention services based on the stage of its current development,
personnel or resources. (Hart, 1992, p. 28)
7.9 "During intake and periodically thereafter, the program assesses
the potential lethality of the applicant/participant. Attention should focus
primarily on the safety of battered partners in all contacts made with them
and all communications made on their behalf. Documentation of lethality
assessment must incorporate the following:"
7.10 "The program requires that an applicant enter into a contract
for services that includes at least the following:"
7.10.1 "An agreement to cooperate with group rules:"
7.10.2 "An agreement to stop violence and threatening behaviors-,"
7.10.3 "A commitment to be non-abusive and non-controlling while a
member of the group;--
7.10.4 "An agreement to develop and adhere to a responsibility plan:"
7.10.5 "A commitment to comply with all court orders, etc.: and"
7.10.6 "An agreement to execute all necessary documents for release
of information to battered partners, law enforcement, the courts and others,
as appropriate." (Had, 1992,p.20-21)
7.11 "Requirements that the participant provide documents related to
prior violence, prior or concurrent treatment services, etc. or execute
appropriate releases to authorized document provision by others with whom
the participant has had privileged communication." (Hart, 1992, p.
It is the belief of the committee that once it is decided who shall implement
and monitor the
Batterers' Program Standards set forth, a mechanism shall-be developed to:
It is the committee's recommendation that RICADV take an active role
in the implementation and monitoring of the batterers' program standards
in conjunction with another state agency, (i.e.. Attorney General's office,
Dept. of Health). Specifically, we recommend that the other state agency
be the vehicle through which the standards are implemented and the programs
monitored. We recommend at least two individuals from RICADV have prominent,
active roles in the governing body responsible for implementing and monitoring
This would ensure that the intent of these standards is adhered to, as well
as ensure that RICADV is informed of any relevant information regarding
We believe that it is the board's decision whether RICADV publicly endorses
any program adopting these standards. It is our belief, however, based on
the April 15, 1994 retreat that RICADV would develop an endorsement process
and would publicly endorse batterers' programs adhering to these standards.
It would be up to the governing body to determine how to inform batterers'
programs of the standards, how to assess their adherence to these policies,
It is also the recommendation that the court advocates use the knowledge
of whether a batterers program has adopted these standards in recommending
where defendants attend counseling as set forth in 12-29.