What are Some Treatment Options for Domestic Violence Perpetrators?

Domestic violence can occur in any relationship, whether you are married or unmarried, or an opposite sex or same sex couple. Men, however, are far more likely to be domestic violence perpetrators than women.

Eighty-five percent of domestic violence perpetrators are men. Domestic violence occurs in all ethnic or cultural groups, all income levels, all educational levels and all religions. Domestic violence perpetrators often were raised in families subjected to domestic violence and/or child abuse. Many have personality disorders or other psychological deficits contributing to their need for power and control over their victims.

Once domestic violence was finally acknowledged to be a crime, various treatment programs were initiated to cut down the incidence of recidivism among perpetrators. Currently, most of these programs are modeled on educating perpetrators to recognize the patterns of behavior leading to domestic violence while challenging the perpetrators’ sense of entitlement to control and dominate their partner. The programs teach the perpetrators to see their own behavior as part of this overall pattern of domestic violence, rather than viewing domestic violence as a series of unrelated or isolated incidents.

In this type of program, perpetrators are also taught new ways of interacting with their partner that are incompatible with domestic violence. Instead of intimidation, threats and coercion, isolation, emotional and financial abuse, blaming and scapegoating, perpetrators learn about fairness and negotiation, financial partnerships, shared and responsible parenting, trust, honesty and respect within the relationship, and non-threatening behaviors.

Other programs focus more closely on the perpetrator’s psychological coping deficits, noting that domestic violence perpetrators often had a parental abuser while growing up who modeled domestic violence behaviors rather than effective stress coping behaviors and techniques. This type of program emphasizes self-responsibility and self-control, teaching perpetrators to better recognize their own emotions when they are feeling “triggered” to engage in domestic violence. Perpetrators are taught how to take an emotional ”pause” at that point of high stress in order to make a more reasonable decision about their behavior. Perpetrators learn that no matter how infuriated they might feel with their partner at the moment, these intense emotions do not require a domestic violence response.

If you are considering taking legal action concerning domestic violence, consult with an experienced family law attorney about your legal rights and remedies. It could be the first step toward safety for your family.

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