Domestic Violence Treatment Programs: Do They Work?
Domestic violence is a problem that needs a solution. If you are hurting at the hands of an abusive partner, you may hope that things will get better. You may minimize what is happening. You could even think that apologies by the abusive partner mean that they will change. Sometimes, an abused person puts their faith in a program to rehabilitate an abuser. However, a program cannot help if the abuser does not see a problem. Let’s look at whether domestic violence treatment programs work.
Why Seek Help?
An abusive partner may benefit from educational and support programs to help bring an end to domestic violence. “Domestic Violence Intervention Programs” are designed for people who have used domestic violence against an intimate partner. A list of these local programs can be found here.
These programs are specifically designed to address an abusive partner’s use of power and control in a relationship. Abuse includes physical violence but also other forms of causing harm. An individual may volunteer for these programs. However, most of the time, an abusive partner does not attend until the courts or Child Protective Services mandate them.
In a domestic violence situation, you as the survivor may want to seek counseling for your own support. You can find the local program in your area here. Many reasons make it difficult to leave an abusive partner. You may not see how you will live without your partner, make ends meet financially, raise children, keep a job, and live independently.
You may need to discuss your situation with counselors who know how to help you think through the possibilities.
Who Can Change?
As a victim of domestic violence, you may have a sense of foreboding about changing your situation and moving on. It makes sense for you to wonder if your partner can change. It is normal to hope that life with them could get better. However, it does not happen overnight or because you want for them to change.
According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, some people do change, but “there’s no consensus on whether or not abusive partners can truly change. We know that some people do, but only when they genuinely want to change and devote themselves to doing so.”
We also know that there are societal or external factors that contribute to violence in a home. Research shows that there are risk factors such as job and economic instability. Lack of being connected with one’s community also contributes to violence. Protective factors, such as community connectedness and job stability, help lower the risk for violence.
Programs for Abusers
There are many intervention programs to help change abusive behaviors. Often, a court orders an abusive partner to attend an intervention program.
The NC Council for Women approves the abuser treatment programs used by the North Carolina court system. The abuser treatment programs re-educate offenders on their behavior and help them to develop new methods of interacting with partners and family members. In Wake County, the programs include:
- “Choosing to Change” in Louisburg
- “DOSE/Triangle Family Services” in Raleigh
Other programs are available for abusive individuals who want to seek out help apart from the court system. An abusive partner who recognizes they need help and seeks counseling is taking a good first step toward changing.
However, relearning how to treat a partner with respect and equality rather than acting from a power and control belief system is difficult. In addition, if there are any drug or alcohol addictions, the way forward to a healthy relationship is even more challenging to achieve.
The bottom line is that the programs designed to help abusive individuals may help those who want to change. However, there is no way of knowing whether an abusive individual in your life truly wants to do the work needed to change.
What Can You Do?
If you are in a situation where your partner abuses you physically or emotionally, there are many ways to assess the best path forward. The first step is to admit what is happening in your relationship, that it is not okay, and that it’s not your fault.
Once you realize that there is a problem, you can reach out to others who have gone through similar experiences. Some people have gone through the same kinds of abuse and found a way forward into a peaceful life again. They are waiting in organizations across the state and nation for you to make contact and get the help you need. It is possible to move forward into safety again.
When you are ready to do something about the abuse, there are legal options to help. One of these options is called a Domestic Violence Protective Order, or DVPO. This type of protection can offer many ways to keep you and your loved ones safe, including:
- Ordering the person harming you to have no contact with you of any kind, directly or through third parties
- Prohibiting the other person from assaulting, threatening, abusing, following, harassing, or otherwise interfering with you or your children by any means, including in-person, through social media, at work, or on the telephone.
- Ordering the other person to move out and not return from the home where both of you may have been living – no matter who owns or leases the home.
- Giving the police permission to remove the other person from your home.
- Giving you possession of personal property, including a car.
- Ordering the other person to stay a fixed distance away from any place you request, such as your work, your children’s school, your friends’ homes, and any other place where you may be seeking shelter.
- Giving you temporary custody of a minor child
- Giving you possession of your pet and ordering the other person not to harm your pet.
- Ordering the other person to surrender firearms and not be able to purchase firearms
- Ordering any other prohibitions or requirements that the court feels necessary to keep you safe.
If an abusive partner chooses to defy any of these protections, they may face arrest and criminal conviction. A violation of the order is, at a minimum, an A1 misdemeanor (the most serious misdemeanor crime in NC), and in some circumstances, a felony.
We Can Help
At Scharff Law Firm, we have been assisting victims of domestic violence and stalking for 20 years and would be happy to assist you through the protective order process. Whether you are considering a restraining order or need assistance at a hearing or guidance on modifying a protective order, we have the resources, compassion, and expertise to assist you. Our experience can help you make the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with your protective order or other questions relating to domestic violence.