Partnering with Programs for Abusive Partners

It is important for advocates to develop partnerships with programs for people who use domestic violence (commonly known as battering intervention programs or BIPs). If we really listen to the voices of survivors, we will encounter many individuals who not only want us to support them and their children, but also to help reduce the violent behaviors of their partners or ex-partners. As advocates, we may not see our role as working directly with abusive partners and parents; however it is our duty to ensure that the voices and experiences of survivors and children are shared and integrated into the work of those who work with people who use violence. If we don’t support the work with abusive partners, survivors will continually be blamed for the violence and there is no possibility for the abuse to genuinely be addressed. 

Furthermore, working with abusive partners is important for their children. Most children want to have a relationship with the parent who uses violence, and most survivors want such relationships to happen, if it can be done safely. Advocates can have an integral role in supporting survivors and children’s safety and wellbeing by working closely with battering intervention programs.

Considerations:

  • Do programs for abusive partners operate in your area and if so, have you reached out to them?
  • If applicable, are these programs certified by your state?
  • Have you created opportunities to mutually share values and philosophies about the root causes of domestic violence and how to effectively address them?
  • How do these programs (and your program) address racism and other systemic equity issues?
  • Is one of the BIP’s priorities to safely keep the lived experiences of adult and child survivors at the center of their work and if so, how do they operationalize it?
  • Do they attempt to contact the partners or ex-partners of participants to voluntarily and safely provide and gather information?
  • What type of training and ongoing supervision does the BIP staff receive about domestic violence and children’s exposure to domestic violence?
  • How do programs work towards holding men who use violence responsible for their behavior while supporting opportunities for change and healing?

Strategies for working together:

  • Hosting preliminary conversations between program staff about working philosophy and root causes of domestic violence and strategies to address them.
  • Developing common vision and principles.
  • Fostering respect and curiosity for each organization’s work.
  • Hosting ongoing conversations on how to work collaboratively to address racism and other forms of systemic oppression.
  • Providing cross training and learning about each program’s roles and limitations.
  • Creating mechanisms for support, consultation, and referrals.

Resources