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David Baxter

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Women's Perceptions of the Impact of a Domestic Violence Treatment Program for Male Perpetrators
09/04/2007
Karen S. Hayward, PhD, RN, SANE-A; Susan Steiner, PhD, RNC, FNP; Kathy Sproule, MS, RN, FNP-C

J Foren Nurs. 2007;3(2):77-83.

This qualitative descriptive study examined women?s perceptions of a court mandated batterer treatment program that their spouse or partner participated in following arrest for domestic violence. Although the women felt treatment had a positive impact on several factors, their feedback helped identify possible improvements in batterer treatment programs.

Conclusion
Victims' perceptions of the impact of a batterer intervention program is a complex issue. Interviews with victims of domestic violence whose male partner had completed the Men's Nonviolence course revealed the class did influence behavior on the part of the perpetrator and in some ways improved the relationship as perceived by the select sample. Replicating studies with a broader sample would strengthen transferability of the findings. Further development and evaluation of batterer treatment programs is needed to address identified gaps in treatment and effectiveness of the response to this public health problem.

While all of the women reported an impact on physical violence in their relationship with their partners after their participation in treatment, they indicated emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse remained a problem. Although men who have completed batterer treatment may stop the use of physical violence, eliminating emotional and psychological abuse may be much more difficult. Pence & Paymar (1993) suggest the batterer must have a personal commitment to give up his position of power or he will eventually return to using threats or violence to gain control. Long-term change requires a long, honest look into long-held beliefs, a commitment to handling conflict differently, and an honest examination of the batterer's beliefs and feelings toward women.

Many of these same subjects attempted to minimize non-physical violence by taking partial blame. Psychological abuse cannot be dismissed as less serious than physical abuse. Milner (2004) suggests that if physical violence is extinguished, men may substitute more subtle methods of intimidation and threats toward their female partners. This may in part explain the theme of continued emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse extracted from this study.

Substance use is a recognized contributing factor to the use of violence in a relationship (Anderson, 2002). Particular attention must be paid to the concurrent treatment of substance abuse as a co-morbidity in the treatment of the perpetrator of violence toward women. Intervention involving women victims may be useful in the continued development of effective response to domestic violence. Marital aggression resulting from anger and aggression in the relationship has been linked to the use of violence by both parties (McHenry, Julin, & Gavazzi, 1995).
 

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