This is one of the first studies that has attempted to test the effectiveness of treatment programs for spouse abusers using a true experimental design.
Although there is no shortage of evaluations of spouse abuser treatment programs (some 36 have appeared in the literature since the 1980's), most of these studies have methodological deficiencies that make it difficult to interpret their findings. In using a true experimental design, the current evaluation randomly assigned 376 court-mandated batterers to batterer treatment or to a program irrelevant to the battering problem (community service). All men assigned to batterer treatment were mandated to complete 39 hours of class time; however, some were assigned to complete the treatment in 26 weeks and others in 8 weeks. Men assigned to the control condition were sentenced to 40 hours of community service. For all cases in the study, interviews were attempted with victims and batterers at 6-month and 12-month intervals after the sentence date. In addition, records of criminal justice agencies were checked to determine whether new crime reports or arrests had occurred that involved the same defendant and victim. Treatment completion rates were higher for the 8-week group than for the 26-week group; however, only defendants assigned to the 26-week group showed significantly lower recidivism at 6-month and 12-month post-sentencing compared to defendants assigned to the control condition. The groups did not differ significantly at either 6 months or 12 months after sentencing in terms of new incidents reported by victims to research interviewers. Findings suggest that batterer intervention has a significant effect in suppressing violent behavior while batterers are under court control, but may not produce long-term change in behavior. 13 tables and 60 references
Date Published: January 1, 2000