Among Batterers: |
Examining Men's Success Stories
Priscilla Schulz, LCSW
from an article of the same title by:
Katreena L. Scott and David A. Wolfe, University of Western Ontario, Canada
Journal of Interpersonal Violence, V. 15 (8), August 2000, 827-842
What is the scope of this study?
Treatment programs for men who abuse their
intimate partners have been in existence since the 1970s and have become
a popular remedy used by the criminal justice system to address the problem
of domestic violence. However, between 1989 and 1998 six major studies
that examined treatment outcome literature on batterer programs revealed
no significant difference in "recidivism rates" of batterers who participated
in treatment compared to those who did not. The authors of the present
study suggest that a lack of theoretical and empirical information about
how to get violent men to curtail or stop behaving violently towards their
partners could lie behind treatment ineffectiveness. Of note is the lack
of connection between research findings about batterers and theories of
domestic violence and behavior change. In the present study, the authors
conducted a qualitative investigation of successful batterer treatment.
They described the perceptions of batterers who succeeded in changing
their behavior toward intimate partners, and compared these accounts of
success to theories about domestic violence and behavior change.
identified five theories on the development of abuse and four theories
of behavior change. From these, 28 "coding categories" were created against
which participants' responses were compared to evaluate which aspects
of theory were most salient to batterers' success in stopping violent
behavior. In this way researchers hoped to link successful batterer treatment
with existing theories in the field.
Participants were drawn from among men who had participated in a 20-week group treatment for batterers at Changing Ways, Inc., in London, Ontario, Canada. Nine men met criteria to be in the study. Study participants were those men who had succeeded in "changing abusive behavior through treatment" and had maintained that change for at least six months between January 1998 and July 1999. Participants, their intimate partners and Changing Ways' counselors evaluated men's success at changing abusive behavior.
Skilled clinicians conducted hour-long, semi-structured interviews with
each subject in private. The interviews were designed to encourage participants
to freely talk about their experiences of behavior change. Both "grand-tour"
and more specific questioning helped participants identify factors that
contributed to changing their abusive behavior. Two, independent raters
evaluated and coded participants' narratives, then matched accounts of
abusive behavior change with the 28 "coding categories" drawn from theories
described above. Only those factors that participants mentioned twice
or more were deemed important in the process of behavior change and used
for coding purposes. Reliability between raters was 80%.
What were the implications of
this study for batterer treatment?