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
Phone 401/467-9940
Fax 401/467-9943

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)

Sojourner House
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)
861-6191 (business)

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)
782-3995 (business)

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)
846-5263 (business)

Suggested Guidelines For Batterer's Program Standards
December 20,1994



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 violence offenders.

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.


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): 1.2.1 Intervention standards promote the elimination of domestic violence by providing guidelines for ethical and accountable Intervention systems to protect battered women and children while seeking to eliminate domestic violence.

1.2.2 Intervention standards mandate that only the highest level of ethical and informed practice is acceptable and encourage provider responsibility in reaching these standards.

1.2.3 Intervention standards remind providers that intervention services are a small, albeit important, part of community strategies to end violence against women and children.

1.2.4 Intervention standards establish the minimum level of responsibility, service, and accountability expected from providers. Standards provide a measure against which program performance and efficacy can be evaluated, while providing a basis for future program development.

1.2.5 Intervention standards help insure that men who batter receive services that are non-abusive, that support change, and that hold program participants accountable for their behavior.

1.2.6 Intervention standards encourage statewide communication and interaction among providers.

1.2.7 Intervention standards demonstrate that a perspective which focuses on eliminating the oppression of women must be applied to domestic violence and to intervention services in order to avoid placing women and children at greater risk.

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 program principles.

Adoption of these guidelines does not constitute endorsement of the program by RICADV.

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. 17)

2. PROGRAM PHILOSOPHY AND PRINCIPLES 2.1 It is essential that batterers program have a philosophy which is accountable to battered women and their advocates in the domestic violence field. Accountability to this principle is demonstrated by a program model that:

2.1.1 Defines domestic violence as a serious crime.

2.1.2 Considers violent and abusive behavior to be a choice and requires that the abuser take responsibility for that choice; discarding alternative excuses such as substance abuse or psychopathology (which research shows may escalate the abuse, but does not cause it).

2.1.3 Maintains that there is no provocation or behavior on the part of the partner that justify ies the perpetrators abusive behavior.

2.1.4 Clearly articulates that the program's commitment is to stopping the abuse and protecting the victim from future harm, rather than on resolving other relationship or personal issues.

2.1.5 Has familiarity with the state laws which regulate police response to domestic violence calls, with the relief available to victims of domestic violence through protective orders, and with local law enforcement, prosecution, and court policies regarding domestic violence cases. (Hart, 1992, p. 1 1)

2.1.6 Defines domestic abuse as part of a pattern of coercive control that may include physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse. This pattern Is a learned and socially accepted set of behaviors.

2.1.7 Establishes linkages with the criminal justice system. Batterer's programs programs are to be responsive and accountable to the criminal justice system, including but not limited to reporting each batterers's compliance with program requirements.

2.1.8 Recognizes that violence is a learned model of behavior supported by a system of beliefs and attitudes. Groups that are limited to anger management programs or "co-dependency" models of intervention are more likely to place the victim at risk and to undermine the position that the batterer is completely responsible for the violence.

2.1.9 Recognizes that couples counseling and mediation between couples where there is abuse can be dangerous for the victim. Couples counseling and mediation assume equal power and freedom to disclose information by both parties. This is extremely dangerous for the victim who does not have this power or freedom in the relationship. It is critical at the initial stages of intervention, that separate group programs for each party are strongly recommended (batterers program and domestic violence support groups).

2.1.10 Clearly articulates to batterers and victims that becoming non-abusive requires long-term work on the part of the batterer and completion of a batterers program is not a guarantee that the abuse will stop. Indicating that a batterer is cured sends him and his partner a message that there is no more risk of abuse.

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.


3.1 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: 3.1.1 Warning the victim, the victim's advocate and/or the police if the victim is at risk (see
4.1 for more information on this duty to warn).

3.1.2 Communicating in ways that do not perpetuate attitudes of sexism, victim-blaming, racism, classism, ageism, or homophobia, etc.

3.1.3 An internal personnel policy or other mechanism to address alleged abuse by a program facilitator

3.1.4 Research personnel working in collaboration with domestic violence programs (namely RICADV member agencies) and advocates. Planning research in ways to minimize the possibility f-hat findings will be misleading. Provide thorough discussion of the limitations of the data, especially where the product touches on social policy or might be construed to the detriment of battered women and children. in evaluating intervention services, programs prefer and seek to have independent research other than self-evaluation. (Hart, 1992, p. 8).


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 executed: 4.1.1 In cases where a client makes an overt or covert threat to harm self or others (Particularly current or former partners ), there is a "duty to warn" the potential victim and the police. The program staff should promptly contact the partner, any other potential victim, and the police if the staff member believes someone is at risk. If the victim can not be reached, the staff member shall contact the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m Monday through Friday and the local battered women's program after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends.

4.1.1a "To adequately perform this duty,intervention programs must undertake on-going assessment of the risk of danger to the battered partner, the children, or the client, himself." (Had, 1992, p. 5)

4.1.2 If a client has been mandated to a batterers' program by a judge, appropriate staff shall release information about acceptance to, attendance, compliance with program rules/guidelines, behavior in group and current abuse or threats of abuse to an off icer of the court, a probation officer, or a judge. (Note: All incidents of noncompliance shall be documented in writing.)

4.1.3 The person identified as the victim of abuse shall be notified of her partner's acceptance or rejection for enrollment in the batterers' program, for the dual purposes of ensuring the safety of victims and providing information about the batterers' program.

4.1.4 If the client signs an authorization of release, information may be shared according to the terms of the authorization.


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 system.

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: 5.5.1 "Familiarity with the state laws which regulate police response to domestic violence calls -

5.5.2 "Familiarity with the relief available to victims of domestic violence afforded by the Protection From Abuse Act and criminal protective orders : and

5.5.3 "Knowledge of local law enforcement, prosecution and court policies regarding domestic violence cases." (Hart, 1992, p. 1 1)

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 occurs.

Below are ways in which facilitators may collude with batterers. These are areas that could be discussed during supervision. 5.7.1 Batterers should take full responsibilfty for their abuse. Facilitators should challenge batterers if he says or implies that someone else had some responsibility for his abuse (ex: "He/she only...").

5.7.2 Facilitators should keep batterers from focusing on their partners' behavior. By talking about his partner, a batterer is implying that his partner in some way caused his abuse or helped him to be abusive.

5.7.3 Facilitators should encourage batterers to view their behavior as a choice (ex: "I chose to push her') and confront any minimization (ex: "I lost control") which implies that the batterer didn't have the ability to choose the abusive behavior.

5.7.4 Facilitators should challenge batterers not to view themselves as victims within their relationship. Batterers should concentrate on their abusive behavior.

5.7.5 Facilitators should not allow bafterers to use profanity,loud volume or other forms of verbal abuse in groups.

5.7.6 Facilitators shall tell batterer's that completion of the program does not mean that the batterer is "cured". Most batterers need continued, long-term work to fundamentally reduce their abusive behavior. Indicating that a batterer is cured sends him and his partner a message that there is no more risk of abuse.

5.7.7 Oppression in all its forms should be addressed by the facilitators. The groups should make the connection between partner abuse and these other forms of oppression.

5.7.8 Facilitators should clearly state that the material presented in the group should be used to help the batterer stop his abuse, not to develop other methods to manipulate their partners (ex: using expression of feelings to make his partner feel guilty).

5.7.9 Facilitators should challenge batterers not to compare their level of abusive behavior to others in the group. This can lead to batterers thinking that their abuse "isn't all that bad".

5.7.10 Facilitators should confront batterers that minimize their abuse. Minimization can occur explicitly or by the batterer joking or distancing from the abuse.

5.7.11 For groups led by more than one person, facilitators should equally share the responsibility of confronting batterers. Otherwise the batterers may see the confrontation as a personal issue of one facilitator rather than a programmatic policy to confront the inappropriate behavior.

5.7.12 For groups led by more than one person, facilitators should equally share in the presentation of material so as to reduce the likelihood that one facilitator holds the power. This is of particular concern where women, people of color, gay and lesbian, or differently abled individuals may be co-facilitators. Failure to do this reinforces the notion that one group dominates another, reinforcing the perspective that men can dominate and abuse women.

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 the following:

5.9.1 Abuse, battering and control of the partner in both the present and past relationships;

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.


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.


6.1 We believe that a batterers program should cover at least the following topics in its basic
program: 6.1.1 A definition of domestic abuse which would include the key points listed in the definition in Section 1 above.

6.1.2 A model that illustrates the different forms of abusive behavior as indicated on the Power and Control Wheel, including specific examples of behaviors falling under these forms. (See attached.)

6.1.3 Techniques and/or tools for choosing non-abusive behavior (example: listening, other communication techniques, expressing feelings, etc.). Anger management would also be discussed.

6.1.4 How control techniques (including intimidation, isolation, use of male privilege, etc.) perpetuate abusive behavior.

6.1.5 The client's full responsibility for the abuse.

6.1.6 The impact of the abuse on the partner.

6.1.7 Gender role stereotyping and how these attitudes affect the potential for abuse.

6.1.8 Discussion of how violence is approved and perpetuated in our society through power and control.

6.1.9 Sexual abuse and pornography and its relationship to domestic violence.

6.1.10 Domestic violence and its relationship to child abuse.

6.1.11 Substance abuse and its relationship to domestic violence.


7.1 The most effective programs will incorporate the following Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence recommendations: 7.1.1 Offer program that is at least one year in duration.

7.1.2 Have regular supervision for facilitators.

7.1.3 Conduct a review and assessment of the program at least annually or whenever there is a change to the program.

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 closed sessions.

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:" 7.9.1 "History of threats of homicide or suicide;"

7.9.2 "History of ideation of homicide or suicide:"

7.9.3 "Possession of, access to, or a history of utilization of weapons;"

7.9.4 "Degree of obsessiveness and dependency on his partner;"

7.9.5 "History of episodes of rage;"

7.9.6 "History of depression:"

7.9.7 "History of use of drugs, alcohol or other substances"

7.9.8 "History of sexual abuse by the batterer to his partner and others; and"

7.9.9 "Access to the battered partner." (Hart, 1992, p. 9 & 20)

7.9.10 Recent separation from the victim.

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. 23)

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: 1. Inform the Coalition of any ethical violations of a batterers program so that we are able to make educated decisions about collaborations, referrals, etc. (end of Section 3)

2. Scrutinize and provide feedback (Section 1.2)

3. Conduct reviews and assessments of the program at least annually

4. Address the provision of education, consultation, and supervision

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 these standards.

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 batterers program.

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, etc.

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.