A position paper

1994, by Rose Garrity, NYSCADV Board of Directors

The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence has historically had reservations and concerns about the idea of providing services to men who batter and recognizes the need to be vigilant about the proliferation of batterer programs across New York State and the country. Concerns in the battered women's movement about batterer programs include the reality of potential funding competition with services for battered women, the fear that services to batterers will not recognize the safety needs of partners, the inherent inequality of power in battering relationships, or other truths of extreme importance to battered women. Other fears include the possibility, based upon repeated e)experience, that, as soon as services to men begin, the focus on safety and services to women and children will be diluted or lost. Courts frequently order joint custody, or terminate super\supervised \visitation once an abuser has begun or completed a program for batterers.

Domestic Violence is a widespread problem that causes dire consequences for families and for the communities in which families live. NYSCADV recognizes domestic violence as an extensive range of tactics used by men to control the lives of women with whom they are/were partnered. These tactics include patterns of physical, sexual and psychological abuse and result in an atmosphere of fear and/or terror for the victim.

Domestic violence may result in death, permanent or other significant injury. It almost always causes serious psychological damage to those who live with it. Children who witness this abuse and/or who are themselves abused as part of the abuser's controlling and abusive tactics are always seriously affected.

Woman battering is a pattern of behavior that exists in up to fifty percent of intimate relationships between men and women. Abuse of women by men is not caused by individual pathologies; it is a natural outgrowth of patriarchal anthropology. This violence cuts across historical eras, classes and cultures. As the Dobashes pointed out in 1977, "...what is being questioned is not just the issue of men who beat their wives but the rights of husbands to control and dominate their wives."(1) More than just individual, this power over women is maintained by institutional and social arrangements that are complex the criminal legal system, for instance, does little to help battered women, more often forcing them to endure rather than escape. The batterer knows he can get away with almost anything he chooses to do to his partner. The idea that she is subordinate to him is reinforced in countless ways, both subtle and overt, almost everywhere he turns. Susan Schechter defines domination as "an organization of society in which certain groups of people are able to both limit and determine the spheres of act of other people while at the same time they profit materially or through privileges from that limiting."(2) Schechter goes on to explain how control exercised by any group in power over others carries with it the threat or use of force to coerce compliance (defined as legitimate by those who have the power). Many other scholars, writers and social activists agree and have written similar analyses. Paulo Friere's - Pedagogy of the Oppressed - is a classic. Lenore Walker, Ginni NiCarthy, Ellen Pence, Barbara Hart, Andrea Dworkin, Phyllis Chesler and countless others share the analysis, as does the NYSCADV.

Economics play a major role in keeping women subjected to batterers. Low wages, lack of housing and medical care options and reduced or no access to legal help make it impossible for many women to create a safe place of their own to live. Societal pressures to be "partnered" at all costs coerce women to be with men, even if battered. "Protection" that doesn't protect, racism, classism and other injustices in the system also reduce options. The alternatives for battered women, even with shelter and non-residential domestic violence programs, are devastatingly limited.

Abuse is the force men use to maintain domination over women. As Lenore Walker said, "Rapists are the shock troops in the street, and batterers are the home guard" to keep women in their place. Women's everyday lives are filled with violence and fear of violence. When the institutions of society fail to hold accountable and punish men who batter women they reinforce the perceived legitimacy of domination.

It is only by understanding the analysis of woman abuse that takes these and other supports of male violence into account that we can effectively provide *any* service related to battering, or address the prevention of family violence without re victimizing and/or blaming the victim while allowing or participating in collusion with batterers and patriarchy.


NYSCADV knows that batterer programs can be dangerous to battered women and their children. Some **"treatment" for batterers is provided without regard for the position or safety of the battered woman. She may be seen as equally responsible for the "family problems" being addressed. He may be given anger management or communications skills training as though that will solve his 'problem'. Therapists may suggest couples counseling during or after **"treatment". Mediation may be recommended. There may even be mandated counseling for *her* concurrent with the batterer's **"treatment'. These and some other models are ineffective at best, and put battered women in serious, increased danger at worst, while blaming her for behavior he has chosen.

We must understand that battering is not an "illness" that can be "treated"; the use of the word "treat' or "treatment" in batterer programs implies individual pathology, and implies "cure". We know that there is never a way to gauge a man's dangerousness or potential for continued battering, no matter what program he participates in or how compliant he seems to be in the program.

Many approaches are being tried, often by those who have no knowledge or understanding of domestic violence. Many are now using approaches developed by or approved by advocates for battered women, having learned that program models exist that pay attention to the analysis understood in the battered women's movement, but are mixing those segments with techniques that pathologize the problem as an individual dysfunction that can be cured'.

Still others are careful to promise no change in the batterer's behavior, and to run programs that are accountable to battered women and that put the safety of the women first.

What we know about batterer programs is that they can increase danger to battered women in several ways. One of the most obvious is that women are manipulated into returning or into staying with a dangerous man because he is in a program. Many batterers deliberately use their alleged participation in programs to coerce their partners to do as they wish; they may also use the program to decrease their accountability or to look meritorious if the courts or police are involved The batterer program becomes one more tool with which he abuses his partner.

Another danger is that while he may decrease physical abuse he'll increase psychological control and abuse as a result of being in a batterer intervention program. Now it appears to his partner and to others that he is stopping his violence, but according to battered women the emotional terror is even worse. Unfortunately batterer programs can inadvertently give men new tactics for emotional abuse by teaching "alternatives" to violence, and in the tactics men may learn from each other in the batterers group.

Yet another danger in BIPs is that battered women whose partners are in a program often develop great hope and expectation that he will change, *in spite of the fact that no program can promise change.* Because of this new hope women may stay with abusers when the danger is not only as real as ever, but may even be more lethal.

When a batterer is in a program courts, police and other authorities may be less likely to hold him accountable for his acts; he may manipulate them with tales of his alleged change, and how hard he is "working" on the relationship, while accusing *her* of escalation. She may then be seen as the cause of the conflict or incident, or at least equally responsible. This is one more way batterer programs can increase danger to battered women.

Some batterer programs may directly increase danger to partners by encouraging or even requiring contact with them to ascertain compliance by the batterer. No matter how careful the batterer program thinks it is being in assuring her safety or protecting her, *they cannot.* She can be, and likely will be "repaid" by her abuser. Contact of battered women by the abuser's program puts women in the position of holding the abuser accountable rather than the system/community/state holding him accountable as they do other offenders.

Other dangers exist, however the list given here serves to illustrate how complex the issue is, especially for battered women and their advocates. The organization seeking to work most safety and responsibly with batterers will seek out volumes of detailed information and training by those who have done the work with unfailing accountability to battered women's safety and reality.


Batterer programs will continue to spring up across the State, and existing programs will grow. NYSCADV wishes to suggest that some minimal guidelines be followed by those seeking to establish or enhance batterer programs.

***Criteria that must be used include:***
-Never compete for or use funding that may support services for battered women and their children.

-Seek "state of the art" information and training from leaders in the field working with batterers.

-Adhere to standards: The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, with the assistance and guidance of several\ model batterer programs in the state, has developed Standards for Batterer Intervention Programs in New York State.

-Always keep the safety of battered women top priority in all facets of the
work. DO NOT USE THEM IN ANY WAY TO HOLD BATTERERS ACCOUNTABLE. This includes *not* asking them to report to you a batterer's compliance with program material or rules; contact of partners by batterer programs, however\ well-intentioned, puts battered women at great risk of retribution.

-Understand and use the analysis of domestic violence developed over the past thirty years by the experts in the battered women's movement.

-Be accountable in all phases of your work to battered women and battered and teach the analysis of domestic violence that acknowledges its relationship to patriarchy, oppression, several)sexism and misogyny, racism, homophobia, and power and control.

These criteria will be best attained by the use of a profeminist educational curriculum in which batterers are taught that only they are responsible for their behavior choices, that their partners are never responsible for their abuse, nor do they ever deserve it, that no one has the right to control another person, that other humans are never property, and that battering is a deliberately chosen tactic used to maintain power and control. (See 'Sources for Further Reading' at the end of this paper for resources on how to develop and run such a program.)
If you choose to offer a batterer intervention program do it only within the context of a community response system. You should work with a domestic domestic program to develop such a system by engaging each part of the criminal/legal system, the mental health community, health care service providers, social services, addictions treatment professionals, and others who serve battered women and batterers. A team approach that consistently holds batterers accountable while maintaining safety for battered women and their children will help to ensure program accountability and will monitor those engaged in the process to enhance safety and effectiveness\. Information on the development of such teams is available through the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. (See 'Sources...

(1) Russell P. and R. Emerson Dobash, "Love, Honor and Obey: Institutional
Ideologies and the Struggle for Battered Women" in Contemporary Crisis,
Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co., Amsterdam, 1977.

(2) Susan Schechter, "Psychic Battering: The Institutional Response to

Battered Women". Address presented to the Midwest Conference: Abuse of
Women, St.Louis, May 1978.

Adams, David, M.Ed., Counseling Men Who Batter: A Profeminist Analysis of Five Treatment Models, Emerge, 280 Green Street, Cambridge, Ma. 02139, 1986.

Gondolf, Edward, -Man Against Woman: What E\Every Woman Should Know About Violent Men-, Tab Books, Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., 1989.

Gondoff, Edward and Russell, David, - Man to Man: A Guide for Men in Abusive Relationship, Human Services Institute, Bradenton, Fla., 1987.

New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, New York
State Standards for Batterer Intervention Programs, Capital View Office
Park, Third Floor, 52 Washington Street, Rensselear, N.Y. 12144.

Pence, Ellen and Paymar, Michael, Power and Control: Tactics of Men Who
Batter -, Minnesota Program Development, 206 West Fourth Street, Duluth, MN 55806,1990.

Yllo, Kersti, and Bograd, Michele, eds, Feminist Perspectives on Wife
Abuse, Sage Publications, Newbury Park, Ca., 1988.

For further information, contact:

The Women's Building
79 Central Avenue
ALBANY, NY 12206
Phone: (518) 432-4864

Montreal Men Against Sexism)sexism, 1996.)