Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Information for Professionals

Abusive Partners

Administrative Components

While it is important to consider the programmatic components of an abusive partner intervention program, it is also important to be aware of the administrative components. On this page, we will discuss these components, including mandated and voluntary participants, funding, program length, and much more. 

Mandated and referred participants are preferred 

It is important that programs accept individuals who are referred to them by courts.  If the program is run as an arm of the court or as a tool of the court, it is possible to hold the participants accountable if they are non-compliant in any way including missing classes, missing payments, not participating, engaging in abusive behavior.  Individuals who are participating voluntarily are not under supervision and as a result, cannot be held accountable by anyone but themselves. If they miss classes, do not pay fees, or drop out of a program, there are no formal consequences.

However, programs that accept voluntary participants should be recognized for the service they provide to those who are outside the criminal justice system and might otherwise never participate in an abusive partner intervention program. While there is no formal mechanism for holding participants accountable, these programs have a strong focus on accountability and have processes in place such as keeping detailed reports on attendance and participation as well as requiring participants to complete assignments that provide opportunities for self-accountability. They hold the participant to all the policies and procedures that apply to mandated clients.

Program length and attendance procedures

The length of a program is important, as it will determine how much information can be covered. In most instances, the length of the program is based upon the length of time a participant is under supervision by the referral source. In New York State, the average range in program length is 26 to 65 weeks, but this varies from program to program. It is critical to recognize that behavioral change is a process and this process often requires a long-term commitment. There needs to be sufficient time to convey the crucial aspects of a participant’s behavior and provide guidance on how to change that behavior, if they choose to do so. Providing participants with the option to return after they have completed the program of their own volition is also a beneficial step in helping abusive partners create that behavioral change.

It is also important for programs to have strict attendance and participation policies that are clearly communicated to participants in writing before they begin the program and verbally thereafter. The participant must agree to adhere to the policies before they begin the program, usually by signing the written policy agreement. The program facilitator should read through and go over the policy with a participant before they sign the agreement to ensure that the participant fully understands the agreement. This will also help those who have literacy difficulties. These policies will vary from program to program, but they should be consistently enforced throughout the program’s duration.

Facilitator experience

It is necessary for programs to employ facilitators who have adequate experience working in the field of domestic violence, specifically with people who abuse. Whether this experience is measured by academic or professional history is at the discretion of the program. Having knowledgeable individuals who understand the dynamics of domestic violence, and have experience working with perpetrators, leading the program is important to ensuring that the material is being conveyed in the appropriate manner while also ensuring that there is no collusion between the participants and the facilitators.

Funding

Programs should never compete with domestic violence service providers or victim service providers for funding, under any circumstances. Victim service programs take precedence as victim’s needs should be first and foremost as a funding priority.

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