Batterers' Intervention Programs

Last updated March 2019

Batterer Intervention Programs (BIP) are programs that batterers attend—some voluntarily, some under  court order—to educate and rehabilitate the batterer. The goal of BIPs is to change offender thinking and behavior with the result that offenders are held accountable and victim safety is enhanced and to decrease the likelihood of further violence. An important feature of BIPs is that the programs are designed to first promote survivor safety, which is achieved through accountability. All offender participants must sign a waiver of confidentiality to permit disclosure of participation to survivors, probation, and the courts, as needed. This assists BIPs’ accountability to survivors by ensuring that survivors have information needed to make informed decisions through sharing information with courts and probation.

The main purpose of BIPs is to assist batterers in learning skills for nonviolence. Programs are designed to teach offenders to monitor their actions and to understand their feelings when they become violent, such as anger, inadequacy, jealousy, or the need to control. Programs will often help offenders understand the root of their impulses and violent habits.

Importantly, programs emphasize that while a batterer may feel angry or upset, he remains responsible for his actions. His use of violence or other forms of abuse is a personal choice.

Facilitators in BIPs often challenge men about their negative or patriarchal attitudes and beliefs, willingness to accept or support abusive behaviors, and their denials of abuse. This practice of challenging thinking and behavior helps men examine the origins of their beliefs and actions with the group and to take responsibility for the abuse.


The first BIPs in the United States were established in the 1970s in response to hotline calls from victims and offenders. Around the same time that legal systems began criminalizing domestic violence and mandating prosecution protocols, judges began requiring that offenders attend BIPs.

The earliest programs often modeled themselves on substance abuse or mental health programs, with some taking the form of couples counseling. However, BIPs are not the same as marriage or couples counseling because those programs presume equality in the relationship and the presence of domestic violence negates this presumption. Moreover, couples counseling in situations of domestic violence is not a recommended best practices and can place victims at a continued risk of harm.

Later, more effective BIPs focused on altering batterers’ beliefs surrounding power and control over their intimate partner. One strategy developed by these programs was to have offenders draw the chain of events that lead to their abusive behaviors,  helping batterers  identify abusive behaviors and recognize when they are becoming violent.

Rather than acting as a diversionary program and allowing batterers to avoid criminal consequences, BIPs offer an opportunity to suspend sentences, as long the as the batterer completes all requirements of the program and does not reoffend. In some places in the U.S., perpetrators attend BIPs as a result of a criminal conviction and successful completion of a program may result in a lesser conviction or sentence.

The Duluth Model, developed in the 1980s, is a feminist, psycho-educational approach to ending domestic violence. This is achieved through “identifying behaviors that men use to create power and control, presenting options other than dominance and control, promoting behavioral and attitudinal changes, and confronting denial of violent behavior.”[1] The Duluth Model BIP is a best practice when it is properly implemented as one part of a larger community structure designed to comprehensively address domestic violence and intimate partner battering. Some of the requirements of a community implementing a Duluth Model BIP will:

  • Prioritize[] the voices and experiences of women who experience battering in the creation of those policies and procedures.
  • Believe[] that battering is a pattern of actions used to intentionally control or dominate an intimate partner and actively work[] to change societal conditions that support men’s use of tactics of power and control over women.
  • Offer[] change opportunities for offenders through court-ordered educational groups for batterers.
  • Ha[ve] ongoing discussions between criminal and civil justice agencies, community members, and victims to close gaps and improve the community’s response to battering.[2]

Implementing BIPs

In 2009, a group of domestic violence and batterer intervention experts from the United States identified the ideal components of a BIP. A model program should involve:

  1. Partnering with other individuals and organizations to enhance accountability and offer a range of services;
  2. Working closely with court and probation to monitor court-ordered referrals to BIPs;
  3. Creating a solid program infrastructure, which includes having ongoing training and supervision of staff and implementing policies that are consistent with best practices;
  4. Developing coordinated community responses that go beyond legal sanctions;
  5. Shaping interventions and programs based on input from adult survivors and children;
  6. Using risk assessment and risk management to provide more effective interventions for individual men who batter;
  7. Engaging men early in their role as parents and partners.[3]

The collaborative briefing paper sponsored by Promundo, Rutgers WPF, MenEngage, and MenCare+, includes recommendations for the implementation of BIPs.[4] Foremost among the recommendations is a list of six “preconditions” affirmed by MenEngage that must exist for the implementation of batterer programs.[5] The experts insist that “if these components are not in place, programs should not proceed.”[6] The list endorses the key elements mentioned by other experts:

  1. Position and implement BIPs as part of a larger inter-agency approach;
  2. Prioritize the safety of women and children and develop appropriate ethical standards;
  3. Undergo risk assessments and use results to help develop a risk management plan;
  4. Develop a BIP model and train staff in the principles of believing in program participants’ potential for change, holding participants accountable for using violence against an intimate partner, ending participants’ use of violence, and requiring program completion.
  5. Use “gender transformative approaches” to train staff to address men’s background, societal tolerance of violence, and norms that excuse violence against an intimate partner;
  6. Know the incidence and nature of domestic violence in your community.[7]


[1] Katherine Herman et al, Outcomes from a Duluth Model Batterer Intervention Program at Completion and Long Term Follow-Up, 53 J. Offender Rehabilitation 1, 3 (2014).

[2] What is the Duluth Model?, Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, (last accessed Nov. 1, 2018).

[3] Lucy S. Carter, Family Violence Prevention Fund & National Institute of Justice, Batterer Intervention: Doing the Work and Measuring the Progress, A Report on the December 2009 Experts Roundtable 7 (2010).

[4] Alice Taylor & Gary Barker, Programs for Men Who Have Used Violence with an Intimate Partner (PM-IPV): Recommendations for Action and Caution (Reviewing Global Practices and Effectiveness) 4 (2013).

[5] Id., 3–5

[6] Id., 3

[7] Id., 3–5