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Standards for Programs for Men Who Batter? Not Yet (From Domestic Violence Offenders: Current Interventions, Research, and Implications for Policies and Standards, P 11-20, 2001, Robert A. Geffner and Alan Rosenbaum, eds. -- See NCJ-197536)

NCJ Number
Richard J. Gelles
Date Published
10 pages
This article argues that it is premature to establish standards for batterers' programs, since too little is currently known about what types or features of programs are effective for which men under what circumstances.
The rationale for developing standards for programs that treat men who batter their intimate partners is that the evolution of such programs must be guided by standards that prevent programs from doing more harm than good. The most recent information indicates that the majority of States now have adopted some form of standards for such programs. Clearly, the potential for abuse and misuse of the psychotherapeutic treatment of batterers is significant; moreover, the incentive for abuse and misuse is substantial, given that courts require men to enter treatment and to pay for the treatment. Nonetheless, there are two compelling arguments against the trend toward the development of standards for batterer intervention programs. First, not enough is known about which treatment programs are effective, for which men, and under what conditions. This lack of empirical knowledge precludes the development of treatment standards. Second, the standards that are being requested, developed, and applied reflect a particular ideological commitment of those who work on behalf of battered women; thus, they have not emerged from an established and proven therapeutic theory or philosophy. In the absence of empirical evidence of treatment effectiveness, it is not reasonable that standards should be based in unproven conceptual models of zealous advocates. The application of unproven standards can cause harm to both batterers and their victims and obstruct the development of innovative treatment strategies that may prove effective with some men under certain circumstances, but which do not comply with existing standards. 22 references