Vermont Domestic Abuse Teams and Programs
Intensive Domestic Abuse Program (IDAP), Batterers Intervention Program (BIP), Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Programs, Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services.
DOC IDAP 2007
Overview of Department of Corrections services for cases of domestic violence:
Successful work with domestic violence offenders within the Department of Corrections requires the Department to engage in a range of services in domestic violence cases.
The three main components of the DOC’s response to Domestic Violence Offenders are:
- Case planning and offender supervision
- Victim services and advocacy
- Batterer Intervention programs for offenders who are convicted of Domestic Violence offenses
The goals of the Department’s domestic violence services are to:
- Support the safety and well-being of victims, children, and the community
- Hold offenders accountable for their choices, and
- Support offenders in their process of change.
Overview of programming for male domestic violence offenders:
Within the state of Vermont, there are three tiers of programming for men who batter that correspond with three main legal statuses.
Independent community organizations provide certified batterer intervention programs (B IP’s) for probation-level cases. (For more information about the certification process visit http://www.biscmi.org/other_resources/Vermont_Signed_BIP_Standards.pdf to view the Vermont Statewide Standards for Domestic Abuse Intervention.)
The Vermont Department of Corrections provides two batterers intervention programs: the Intensive Domestic Abuse Program (IDAP) and the Incarcerative Domestic Abuse Program (IDAP.)
Currently, in Vermont, batterer intervention programs are intended for adult men who batter their female intimate partners. These programs are not intended for women, perpetrators of violence in same-sex relationships, or for intervention in other forms of family violence such as child or elder abuse.
Purpose: Why do we have batterer’s intervention programs?
As stated in the Vermont Statewide Standards for Domestic Abuse Intervention (section 2.2, Program Objectives):
The program and curriculum utilized in the programs shall work to:
- Increase the participant's understanding of his abuse as a means of controlling his partner's and children's actions, thoughts, and/or feelings. All forms of abuse shall be identified and challenged, including physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, intimidating behavior, threats, terrorizing tactics, isolating tactics, using male privilege, using the children, and sexual abuse.
- Identify cultural and social influences that contribute to abusive behavior, as well as the social contexts in which this violence is used; rationalizations used to excuse or justify an individual’s abusive actions will be uncovered and addressed.
- Address and confront excuses for abuse. This shall include a philosophical position emphasizing that men who batter are solely responsible for their choices to abuse and that abuse is never justified. This confrontation must occur in a way which is respectful and is supportive of self-change.
- Examine the harmful, damaging and potentially lethal consequences of abuse on battered women, children and the batterer's relationship with them. The short- and long-term effects of abuse and violence shall be enumerated, and participants shall be expected to take responsibility for creating these consequences. Programs will also work to increase the participant's understanding of the effects of domestic abuse on children.
- Provide the participant with practical information on how to end his abusive behavior and how to interact with his partner in non-controlling and respectful ways.
- Furnish the participant with general information concerning the federal, state, and local responses to domestic violence.
Domestic abuse intervention programs do not guarantee that men will cease their violence. Nor are interventions intended to salvage relationships.
Eligibility for IDAP:
To be eligible for IDAP through a pre-approved furlough (PAF) referral from a court, potential participants must complete a screening procedure, the Intermediate Sanction Report (ISR) and/or a Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI), which is conducted by DOC staff. Participants in other types of furlough may also be admitted. Potential participants are accepted based upon the following conditions:
- Have eligible offenses, supervision status, and sentence structure, as described by the Department of Corrections Sentencing Options Manual.
- Be willing to admit to the acts of domestic violence for which they have been convicted.
- Be determined to have an appropriate risk level to be supervised safely in a community setting.
- Be willing to sign and abide by a program contract, including limited
confidentiality, supervision conditions, and residency restrictions.
Eligibility for InDAP:
The InDAP program is designed for incarcerated individuals who are deemed ineligible to participate in the IDAP program in the community. This includes:
Participants whose convictions make them ineligible for IDAP, which typically includes a conviction for Aggravated Domestic Assault-1st Degree/ use of a weapon.
Others who may meet exclusionary criteria for IDAP, which may include:
- active VAPO and history of abuse while under the supervision and an
- unwillingness to participate/comply with conditions of release and/
- IDAP participants who have been unable to manage the program
- requirements and have been returned to jail on either a sanction or
Transition from Incarceration to IDAP:
Incarcerated individuals with domestic violence related offenses who have participated in InDAP complete their programming in IDAP. Additionally, other incarcerated individuals with domestic violence offenses who have completed other programming in the facility, including Cognitive Self-Change (CSC), or who have not completed programming, may be considered through the case staffing process. To be accepted, a potential incarcerated participant entering the community on Conditional Re-entry (CR) status must:
- Be willing to admit to the acts of domestic violence for which he has been convicted.
- Be determined by the DOC to have an appropriate risk level to be supervised safely in a community setting.
- Be willing to sign and abide by a program contract, including limited confidentiality, supervision conditions, and residency restrictions.
- When an incarcerated individual is being considered for IDAP, the facility Corrections Services Specialists (CSS) should be in contact with the CSS in the community who will supervise the case. The individual being considered should review and sign the IDAP contract prior to placement in the community.
Duration: How long is the program and are there variables for the length of stay?
IDAP groups meet three times a week for 1.5 hours. PAF participants are required to complete a minimum of 156 groups in addition to meeting performance competencies. Participants who reach the minimum number of groups without reaching the minimum competencies will remain in the group until the competencies are met. There is currently an aftercare component of 13 additional groups.
INDAP groups meet twice a week for 2 hours. INDAP participants are required to complete between 8 to 16 Program Participation Credits (PPC’s). A PPC can be earned monthly as long as a participant meets minimum standards of performance and participation.
In general, participants on Conditional Re-Entry (CR) who enter IDAP are expected to complete a minimum of 104 groups. This includes InDAP participants who have completed between 8 and 16 PPC’s, or other incarcerated individuals who may have completed CSC or another programming.
Guiding Principles of DOC’s programming for male domestic violence offenders:
Approach to Behavior Change
IDAP and InDAP both utilize a cognitive-behavioral model, incorporating best-practice methods of behavior change for men who batter. Cognitive-behavioral interventions are widely accepted nationwide, with a growing body of evidence suggesting effectiveness for mandated participants. The Department utilizes this model in a wide range of programming for offenders, and IDAP began in 1996 as an outgrowth of the Department’s Cognitive Self Change program.
The IDAP and InDAP programs combine cognitive behavioral techniques with targeted education regarding the dynamics of domestic violence. The programs seek to support participants in their process of change, encouraging their ability to be safe and respectful in their relationships with women and children. Emphasis is placed on creating opportunities for participants to accept responsibility for their behavior. This includes any violent incidents that may or may not have led to a criminal conviction as well as other behaviors that may not yield intervention from the criminal justice system but that are nonetheless abusive to the victim and serve to create an atmosphere of fear and an imbalance of power in the relationship.
Additionally, the programs encourage participants to understand the effects of their abusive choices on the victim, any children who may have been a part of the relationship, and others. We encourage participants to develop motivations for engaging in a change process. In 2007 we have been undergoing a revision to the curriculum that includes the latest evidence regarding a process of change for men who batter as well as applying motivational interviewing techniques with this population.
Assumptions about Men Who Batter
The Curriculum used in IDAP and InDAP, “Supporting A Process of Change for Men Who Batter,” operates under the following assumptions:
Domestic violence is a choice.
Men who batter make clear decisions about how, when and where to abuse their partners. Their choice to abuse is intentional and logical. Domestic violence is not a result of a communication and relationship skills-deficit nor is it a symptom of alcohol or other drug use, mental illness or a lack of anger management skills.
Domestic violence is supported by sexism and homophobia.
Domestic violence is supported by belief systems that maintain rigid definitions of masculinity and femininity and objectify women as less valuable than men. The larger societal norms and institutions that support an imbalance of power between men and women also reinforce domestic violence.
Men who batter continue to abuse because of the benefits they receive from their abuse.
Men’s choices to abuse are reinforced by the effectiveness of their behavior. While men also face significant negative impacts because of their choices to abuse, failing to recognize the benefits of their choices can lead to several inappropriate assumptions about their behavior. For example, failure to recognize the benefits of abuse for men can lead some to feel that domestic violence is a result of a lack of communication or relationships skills that, if learned, would alleviate the need to abuse.
Domestic violence is a wide range of behaviors aimed at maintaining an imbalance of power within a relationship.
Battered women consistently describe their partners’ use of a variety of tactics to maintain control. Too often, physical violence is the focus of many people’s definition of domestic violence. It is important to avoid the creation of a hierarchical understanding of the tactics that men use. No one tactic can be understood to be more important. It is the combined use of these tactics over time that creates the system of control that battered women describe.
Domestic violence has significant negative impacts on partners, children, extended family and the community.
It is always important to remember that one of the innumerable effects of domestic violence is the potential death of adult and child victims.
Domestic violence is a violation of a woman’s human rights.
Domestic violence violates women’s right to safety, liberty and, at times, life itself. It takes away or limits a women’s right to feel secure in her home and community and her ability to be self-determining.
Men who batter can change their behavior if they are motivated to.
Men who batter are capable of engaging in safe and respectful relationships if they make a commitment to doing so. Only they can end their abuse. Without this assumption, it is impossible to facilitate a respectful program supported by the expectation that men will respect the rights of their partners.
As stated in the Vermont Statewide Standards for Domestic Abuse Intervention (section 4.3, Intervention Format):
The preferred format for intervention services for men who batter is the educational group or class. This format provides a social environment of peers for men to be accountable for their behavior and to explore motivations for change. This format also provides an opportunity for men to challenge each other based on their shared experience.
Groups should be led by at least two trained facilitators / instructors. It is not recommended that one facilitator, regardless of the facilitator’s experience or training, lead groups. Co-facilitation teams should consist of one male and one female. Despite the challenges that staffing groups with a man and a woman present, experience has shown that same-sex facilitator teams (whether male-male or female-female) can significantly alter the dynamics of the group process and content.
These groups will generally be open-ended and designed so that new participants can be enrolled to begin the program at any point.”
Additionally, “the maximum capacity for IDAP groups is 8 group members” (Section 4.7.)
Outcome: What data do we have that shows a reduction in recidivism?
While there is still much to learn about the impact of BIP’s, there is evidence to indicate that batterer intervention programs have modest but positive effects on violence prevention similar to another programming for mandated criminal populations. National studies that have looked at other cognitive-behavioral programs indicate that men referred to batterer intervention programs have decreased or eliminated their assaultive behavior. For a comprehensive understanding of the research in this field, see Edward Gondolf’s “Batterer Intervention Systems: Issues, Outcomes, and Recommendations” (Sage, 2002.) Additionally, other national researchers who have contributed to the national body of evidence regarding batterer’s intervention include J. Edleson, O. Williams, L. Feder & D.B. Wilson, and J.C. Babcock, et al.
There is a small body of evidence that exists specific to batterer’s intervention in the State of Vermont. The Department’s 2006 “Facts and Figures” document indicates a reduction of re-conviction rates for participants who completed a batterer’s intervention program. In 2002 a pre-post test study was completed on a 27-week batterers intervention program provided in Chittenden, Franklin, and Addison County. The study indicated“ positive changes in attitude and motivational factors” among group participants and suggested that “this is an effective model in changing underlying batterer attitudes that provide rationale for abusive behavior,” Short-Term Change in Attitude and Motivating Factors to Change Abusive Behavior of Male Batterers after Participating in a Group Intervention Program based on the Pro-Feminist and Cognitive-Behavioral Approach” (Journal of Family Violence, March 2007).
Other measures of effectiveness?
Measuring the effectiveness of programming for men who batter presents a number of significant challenges. The effectiveness of a program is influenced by the decisions made by other elements of the criminal justice system, and so it can be challenging to isolate program effect for analysis. Additionally, rather than placing emphasis solely on recidivism, some suggest that effectiveness can be better measured by looking at other factors, such as measuring incidents of re-assault that have not led to a conviction. Others suggest that effectiveness can be best measured by seeking input from the victim and/or current partner of former participants. An assessment of the victim/current partner’s sense of safety may be difficult to attain but may provide the most accurate way to measure whether a domestic violence offender has ceased his abusive, violent, or controlling behavior.
As with other programs seeking to adhere to the Vermont Statewide Standards for Domestic Abuse Intervention, the IDAP and InDAP programs seek to actively collaborate with victims of domestic violence and victim’s advocacy organizations. We prioritize seeking and maintaining the support of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (www.vtnetwork.org,) recognizing that active involvement with programs serving victims is critical for any program providing services to men who batter. Additionally, the effectiveness of batterer’ s interventions programs is increased when programs actively participate in the coordinated community response to domestic violence, most typically through participation in local county-based domestic violence task forces.
Kim Bushey, Program Services DirectorDepartment of Corrections
103 So. Main St.
Waterbury, VT 05671-1001
Tel. (802) 951-5012
The Department of Corrections contracts with the Domestic Abuse Education Project (DAEP) of Spectrum Youth & Family Services to provide facilitation and supervision of the IDAP and InDAP programs. For more information about the Domestic Abuse Education Project visits www.spectrumvt.org. You can also contact Paul Hochanadel, the DAEP Program Co-Director at email@example.com, or by phone at (802) 864- 7423 ext 217.