Advisory - December 16, 1999
Office of the Commissioner of Probation
More Information, Contact:
Holland, Director of Communications
BATTERERS FREQUENTLY TARGET NEW VICTIMS
PROBATION REPORT REVEALS
batterers, someone with two or more restraining orders issued against
them by different victims, abused as many as eight new victims over
a six-year period tracked by the research department of the Office
of the Commissioner of Probation (OCP).
"Domestic Violence Special Report: Serial Batterers" is a first-time
report that assessed the rate of chronic domestic abuse cases, beginning
with the implementation of the Registry of Civil Restraining Orders
in 1992 by the Office of the Commissioner of Probation. The tracking
of this information ended in 1998 when more than 730 civil restraining
orders were issued each week by the 105 courts throughout the state.
The registry maintains and updates the number of restraining orders
issued in domestic violence cases in the Commonwealth.
The report shows that about half of all serial batterers are likely
to abuse their newest victim within a year or two of the last restraining
order issued against them for abusing someone else. About one in
every four (23.3 percent) domestic violence offenders listed in
the registry are serial batterers, according to Sandy Adams, the
commissioner's assistant director of research and author of the
report. Because information on a defendant's domestic violence history,
prior to 1992, is unavailable through the registry, Adams said the
actual magnitude of serial battering is immeasurable.
"Because serial batterers are violent and target multiple victims,
they are an extremely high-risk and dangerous population," Adams
said. "Intervention and treatment are critical in preventing these
offenders from preying on future victims."
The following are among the key findings of the study:
1. An overwhelming majority of serial batterers, 91 percent, have
previously been arraigned on criminal and/or delinquency charges.
2. Two-thirds of serial batterers, 65.1 percent, have a history
of being arraigned on violent criminal and delinquency charges.
3. At least 60 percent of serial batterers have a history of alcohol
and drug abuse.
4. More than 87 percent of serial batterers are men. "This research
is a reminder that we need to fight the battle against domestic
violence on several fronts. First, each and every victim should
get an opportunity to engage in safe planning. Secondly, we need
to work with the police and certified batterer programs to strongly
correct the batterer's belief that abusive behavior is somehow OK
– it's not. Finally, we need to get these batterers off of alcohol
and drugs," said Massachusetts Probation Service Training Director
Steve Bocko, who oversees a statewide educational training program
for probation employees. Training sessions on how to address domestic
violence issues are offered to probation officers throughout the
The Massachusetts Probation Service is a department of the Massachusetts
Trial Court. There are 12 Superior Court, 70 District Court, and
12 Probate and Family Court probation offices throughout the Commonwealth.
Probation's Juvenile Court system includes 11 divisions which represent
every county in the state. The Office of the Commissioner of Probation
(OCP) serves as the central administrative office for the state