New name and guidelines for Batterer’s Intervention Programs

Since 1991, The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has beenwc_jdi responsible for the funding, certification and overseeing of all state certified Batterer’s Intervention Programs. During these past 25 years, only minor revisions were made to the original language of the program. The state recently released some major revisions, including a name change, for the program.  All Massachusetts Certified Programs, including the program located at Stanley Street Treatment and Resources, Inc. (SSTAR) have been renamed.  They are now called Intimate Partner Abuse Education Programs.

The change of name as well as some basic standards for the provision of services were agreed upon after a large group, representing a cross section of experts involved in domestic violence work reviewed existing standards in Massachusetts and other states with similar programs.

According to DPH, important areas of change include strengthening procedures to assure the confidentiality of the survivors, the inclusion of the use of a Department-approved tool that structures risk assessment for dangerousness, the insertion of a substance use curriculum, minimum training qualifications for program staff as well as on-going professional development and the inclusion of the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards.’

The existing terms of “batterer” and “batterer intervention” were changed in response to the concerns of a multi-disciplinary team in related fields. From the leadership of Jane Doe, the state coalition of domestic violence and sexual assault programs, to consumers, judges, probation, domestic violence advocates and staff, it was decided that the term “batterer” was punitive and stigmatizing and was possibly screening out self- referred offenders from the program who had not necessarily been physically abusive, but were seeking help for other abusive behaviors within their intimate relationships. A new programmatic name change better captures the full continuum of power, abuse and control that often happens in the absence of physical abuse,

A six week assessment and evaluation is available at the request of the courts, the Department of Social Services or any other referral source to determine if the participant meets the requirements of the 40 week program. SSTAR uses a sliding fee schedule that takes into account the batterer’s ability to pay.  No one is denied services based on inability to pay. Programs will continue to require clinical supervision by a DCF funded Women’s Center (locally SSTAR Women’s Center), DPH observation of facilitators, and record keeping and coordination with probation and/or DCF if needed.   Programs will also continue to provide partner contacts, keeping in mind the safety of survivors.  Groups are male and female specific.

For information on the local Intimate Partner Abuse Education Program, contact: 508-324-3597 or     toll free 1-800-937-3610 ext. 4601