Certified Batterer Intervention Programs have two central goals: victim safety and batterer accountability.
  • Victim Safety: We know that many victims simply want the violence to stop. BIPs can provide important information to victims to assist them in making informed decisions about their safety. BIPs can provide victims with referral information for support services in their own communities. In addition, BIPs can answer victims' questions about domestic violence and can keep victims informed about their partners' ongoing participation in the program.
  • Batterer Accountability: BIPs work with batterers to help them identify and take responsibility for their abusive behaviors and the effects of their abuse on their intimate partners and children. These are important first steps in the transition to a non-abusive lifestyle. BIPs also work closely with others in their communities as part of the coordinated community response to domestic violence.

Given these goals, the answer to the question, "Does batterer intervention work?" is a resounding, "Yes!"

Beyond these central goals of BIPs, when people ask, "Does batterer intervention work?," they often want to know if batterer intervention can stop domestic violence. The best research on the effectiveness of BIPs looks at recidivism (whether or not a batterer is charged by the criminal justice system with a new domestic violence offense after attending a BIP), the community's commitment to batterer accountability, and victim reports. This research tells us that batterer intervention programs can help batterers make positive changes. Batterers who complete batterer intervention programs are less likely to commit new acts of violence or to violate restraining orders. Several studies show that batterer intervention programs reduce recidivism by 36-85% (Dutton, 1986; Edleson & Grusznski, 1988; Tolman & Bennett, 1990; Gondolf, 1997; Gondolf, 1999).

The reality is, however, that batterer intervention programs alone cannot stop domestic violence and cannot guarantee victim safety. Certified batterer intervention programs can give batterers a reason to change and ways for doing so, but it is up to the individual batterer to decide whether or not he/she will continue to be abusive. Only batterers can change their behavior. Certified BIPs play an important role in the coordinated community response to domestic violence, along with the courts, police, health care providers, educators, government agencies, families, friends, and neighbors. Certified BIPs are most effective when their central goals of victim safety and batterer accountability are reinforced throughout the community. Domestic violence will end when we all work together to bring about change.

This information is provided by the Violence Prevention and Intervention Services within the Department of Public Health.