Partner Violence. Prevention and Intervention
Chapter Summary by
In many respects, both prevention and intervention for partner violence are in their infancy. Shelters, the first service offered specifically for partner violence, originated only in the 1970's, and other programs have developed even more recently. Although many of these programs are well thought-out and take advantage of existing knowledge about the cause of partner violence, their success has been mixed. Perhaps the firmest conclusion that can be drawn is that even when considerable resources are spent and a variety of community institutions are involved, partner violence can still be quite an intractable problem. Providers in this field must be prepared to deal with a substantial number of individuals, both perpetrators and victims, who do not seem to change. Although it is generally that case that definitive outcome studies have not yet been done, some avenues for future services and service evaluation are suggested by this review.
Prevention efforts are growing rapidly throughout the United States, especially those that focus on teenagers. Most, however, are still rather brief interventions, and their long-term impact has not been conclusively demonstrated. In particular, the effects of community wide efforts are not well known because most studies of change at the community level have not looked at the effects of specific interventions. In the future, anti-violence programs for teens will probably become more fully integrated into the educational curriculum. Providers of such programs should also be aware, however, that some may cause a "backlash effect," or increase in violence, among a small percentage of participants. Offering relationship-training skills to engaged or newly married couples, perhaps through institutions such as the military, churches, and community centers, is a promising avenue that has received only minimal application and study. In general, programs that focus on teaching protective factors, such as healthy relationship skills, may be more effective than programs that focus on warning about risk factors.
Current efforts at social control of perpetrators may be meeting with some success. Over one half of perpetrators appear to cease their violent behavior during the 6-month to 1-year period following identification of the violence by law enforcement or other community agencies. It is not clear, however, what contributes to these results or how much these results differ from the cessation of violence that occurs without intervention. Conclusive evaluations of individual change in perpetrators' behavior have not yet been done. Perhaps even more importantly, the impact on the community of changes in arrest and other intervention policies has essentially gone unstudied. It seems possible that effects on the community may have long-term deterrent effects that are not observed over the course of several months or even a few years. Thus, most providers and other partner violence professionals agree that such interventions need to be continued despite only modest evidence of their efficacy.
The study of services to victims is not well developed. Of the models that have been developed so far, the Coordinated Community Action Models (CCAMs), in particular, are promising avenues for improving the provision of services to victims in addition to perpetrators. Nonetheless, much more needs to be done to develop and evaluate services that are tailored to the needs of individuals who have sustained partner violence. It seems most likely that models based on helping individuals recover from trauma will be most applicable.
In the development of future interventions, one important area that has received little attention is the issue of matching individuals to treatment. Basic research on typologies of batterers is progressing, but these findings have yet to be incorporated into treatment models. It seems likely, for instance, that legal interventions will be most important for perpetrators who have extensive criminal histories. Similarly, couples who have experienced less severe forms of violence may be most suitable for couples therapy.
Providers from a variety of backgrounds are increasingly coming to recognize the importance of addressing partner violence. New efforts at training providers to screen for and intervene with violence should broaden the number of people who are served. Providers are also becoming increasingly cognizant of unique safety and other issues that need to be addressed when working in the partner violence field. The importance of addressing one's personal violence histories is becoming increasingly recognized, as is the need to deal with vicarious traumatization. With this expansion of trained providers, one hopes, both prevention and intervention services will continue to develop and improve.
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of Family Psychology, 11,