DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TREATMENT INFORMATION
What is domestic violence perpetrator treatment?
Domestic Violence (DV) perpetrator treatment is a program designed to help people who have abused a family member or intimate partner to change their behavior, with the goal of avoiding re-offense. Persons who are convicted of, or who plead guilty to, DV offenses are required to attend such treatment as part of their probation. However, the program is also available to and appropriate for persons who have concerns about their own behavior toward their partners, and who have not been convicted of a crime.
What can I expect in a DV treatment program?
State law sets guidelines for the content of DV treatment programs. State-certified programs last a minimum of one year. During that time, the participant attends at least six months of weekly group meetings, which deal with the actions, beliefs and patterns which constitute domestic violence and work to develop non-violent alternatives. The groups consist of all men or all women (no mixed-gender groups are allowed). The groups are educational in nature, but it is required that participants speak honestly about their own behavior and practice new skills that allow non-violent solutions to problems. Most groups use a “social learning model,” in which participants help each other discover and use non-violent alternatives in intimate situations.
Upon completion of the group component of the program, the participant moves into a follow-up period, during which monthly group attendance is required and other modes of therapy or education may be added, based upon the individual case.
Who will know I am in the DV treatment program?
Your attendance at group meetings and what you say and do there is confidential. However, if you are ordered by the court to attend, reports will be made to the court or to your probation officer as to whether you are in compliance with the agreed treatment plan. Whether or not you are court ordered, you will be required to sign a release so that the program’s victim advocates can speak to your partner to assure safety and monitor how things are going in the family while you are in treatment. You will also be required to sign releases to any other counseling or treatment programs with which you have been involved. You decide whether to tell friends and associates of your participation.
How will my treatment plan be designed?
While there are some basic requirements as to length and content of the treatment program, your counselors will also use several sources of information to tailor the program to your situation. In addition to interviewing you and perhaps conducting some standardized tests, program personnel will interview the victim, review any police reports and victim statements and check your criminal history. They will review records or talk to other treatment personnel who have worked with you, such as drug and alcohol treatment programs.
As mentioned above, they will be in touch with your probation officer, if one is assigned.
If you have a severe alcohol or drug problem, you may be required to receive treatment before beginning the DV group. Each treatment plan is designed based upon individual circumstances and may include parenting classes, drug and alcohol education, individual counseling and other interventions to support the use of non-violent alternatives.
I haven’t been convicted of anything – why would I go to treatment?
There are three primary reasons a person might choose to attend treatment voluntarily. First, you might decide that your behavior is problematic and that you want to do something about it. Second, if you have been arrested for domestic assault and are awaiting charging or trial, sometimes the fact that you have voluntarily begun treatment can affect the prosecutors decisions in regard to your case (discuss this with your attorney if you have questions – treatment personnel cannot give you legal advice). Third, with or without your partner’s help, you may come to recognize that unless your behavior changes, your marriage or relationship is close to ending. DV perpetrator treatment can help you learn non-violent partnership skills that will serve you well in your current relationship and in future relationships. This, DV treatment is an investment in your own future.
What about cost?
You can expect to pay a fee for the intake process and a weekly group fee, as well as a fee for each individual or follow-up appointment. While most programs expect the intake fee to be paid before you can join the program, you can generally pay weekly for groups and other meetings, so that the whole cost of treatment needn’t be paid at once. Costs vary widely among state certified treatment programs, and you are encouraged to “shop around” for one which meets your needs in terms of cost, location, size and group meeting times. All providers will inform you over the telephone of their current fee schedule.
What is a “state-certified program?” How can I find one?
A state agency (DSHS/DCFS) sets requirements for DV treatment programs and monitors the programs to assure their compliance with state standards.
Programs are reviewed every two years and certified to be in compliance. Court-mandated persons must obtain their treatment through state-certified programs.
For a list of state certified programs go to WWW.NWADVTP.COM and click on the Certified Programs page.
Be sure to ask any potential provider whether the program is state-certified, as this is your best guarantee of quality treatment.
What is a “DV Impact Panel ?” How can I find one?
The ideal panel is comprised of Survivor Family Members of a slain victim of Domestic Violence, a former Victim Of Domestic Violence, a recovering Perpetrator of Domestic Violence, others who grew up with Domestic Violence and chose a different path, with a closing by a Domestic Violence Treatment Provider who talks about what Domestic Violence is, the effects on the children, and the accepted remedies for Domestic Violence in the State of Washington. Most panels show a short video of Domestic Violence in the community. All speakers are screened for their ability to tell their story in a public setting (recommend at least two years recovery time for all speakers) in an objective, non-shaming way. For a list of DV Impact panels in the greater Washington State area go to WWW.NWADVTP.COM and click on the DV Impact Panels page.