Policy and Politics / News

Domestic Violence in the NFL

Most of you, at least in the United States, are aware of the highly publicized domestic violence incidents involving NFL football players Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens and Ray McDonald of the San Francisco Forty-Niners.   Both cases have drawn attention to the very serious problem of domestic violence. What can we learn from these cases, as concerned citizens and as providers of perpetrator treatment programs?   We can start by recognizing that while domestic violence is not always taken as seriously as it should, and victims not always sufficiently protected, it is nonetheless a complex problem and should not be reduced to easy stereotypes.

The respective football teams, and the NFL league office, were widely faulted for not responding appropriately.  In the Ray Rice case, people wanted to know why a man who knocked out his girlfriend, Janay, was only suspended for two games.  In the Ray McDonald case, there were calls for his suspension by San Francisco sports writers and victim advocates, despite the fact that Mr. McDonald was never charged with a crime, because initial reports indicated that his girlfriend has suffered “visible injuries.”

We know that Ray Rice, as shown in that elevator video, punched his girlfriend so hard that she was rendered unconscious.  We also know that he did so after she tried to hit him, as is also evident from that video.  There is no question that his response was grossly out of proportion to the threat posed, and he clearly the dominant aggressor in that incident, for which he rightfully deserved to be arrested.  So, let’s imagine that Ray Rice was referred to you for counseling, and let’s imagine you could use whatever intervention approach you thought would work best, to make sure that he never again assaulted his girlfriend.  What would you do?  The consensus among victim advocates interviewed by the media was that these men (Ray Rice in particular) are typical batterers who use violence as a means to dominate and control their partners.  I have not read or heard any specific suggestions on what intervention, aside from incarceration, would be appropriate in each case, but I am fairly certain that victim advocates would want for these men to complete a batter intervention perpetrator program.  They would most certainly strongly oppose any suggestions that the female partners should also join a batterer intervention or anger management program, or participate in couples counseling, because this would, in their view, be “victim blaming.”  Here is all that we know about the Ray Rice incident, from media reports:

  • In their hotel room, Ray and Janay had both been drinking, and at some point Janay tried to forcibly take his cell phone from him.
  • He responded by spitting at her.
  • She then responded by slapping him.
  • Later, in the elevator, Janay attempted to physically strike him.
  • He responded by punching her and knocking her out.
  • Janay says that this was the first time that either of them ever used physical force on the other.

It is possible that Janay was minimizing Ray’s violence and that he had in fact assaulted her in the past.  It is equally possible that she, too, had assaulted him previously.  But if we take her at her word, then the facts indicate that this was a classic case of a mutually-escalated conflict, in which both partners contributed to the escalation.  This does not mean in any way that Janay “deserved” to be knocked out.  Ray Rice should have been mandated to attend a batterer intervention program.  However, we don’t know whether Ray Rice’s violence was intended to “send a message” to Janay that he is in charge of the relationship and that she had better not ever challenge his authority, or whether he came from an abusive background and when threatened with physical violence by Janay, and being under the influence of alcohol, reflexively struck out.  If Ray’s violence was more instrumental than expressive, then I would insist that he attend a lengthier course of batterer intervention, and perhaps also participate in intensive individual therapy.  Either way, however, I would treat both partners, because both need to learn ways to better manage their anger and resolve their conflicts peacefully.  I would also recommend that they each undergo a thorough substance abuse assessment.

Do you agree?

Now, with respect to the Ray McDonald case, here is what the Deputy District Attorney concluded, after looking at all of the evidence, as reported in ESPN NFL (Online):  “Conflicting versions of the event, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a significant lack of cooperation from Jane Doe; we cannot prove a crime occurred,” said Lindsay Walsh, Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney in charge of the case. (my italics).

“Both Jane Doe and McDonald agree that Jane Doe struck first,” according to the memo. “Jane Doe said it was a single push. McDonald said Jane Doe hit him multiple times with a closed fist. … [McDonald had no visible injuries or complaints of pain.] McDonald grabbed Jane Doe’s arms to restrain her, resulting in visible injury.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle (November 10, 2014:  In late May, officials said, officers went to the residence to deal with an altercation in which McDonald and his fiancée had an argument involving a gun. McDonald called police, and, at the time, denied that she ever pointed the firearm at him or fired it. During the investigation into the domestic violence incident, however, McDonald changed his story, saying his fiancée fired the gun into the ground as he drove away, prosecutors said.

So, there was insufficient evidence to charge Ray McDonald with a crime.  In retrospect, although he was subsequently accused of sexual assault (in another case), the Forty-Niners made the right call in not suspending him from the team and waiting instead to hear from the District Attorney’s office.  But is it in fact true that a crime did not occur?  The same girlfriend who admitted to initiating a physical assault on Ray McDonald, for which he had to defend himself by grabbing her by the wrists, had previously fired a gun in his presence.  It troubles me that the District Attorney chose to ignore this evidence.  Do you think she should have been charged?  And would you have a different view if he were to be charged and found guilty of sexual assault?

Your thoughts?




National Survey for Domestic Violence Intervention Programs

Currently, we are conducting the National Survey for Domestic Violence Intervention Programs, the largest survey of its kind into the demographics, philosophy, and structure of batterer intervention programs across the U.S. and Canada. The aim of this study is to ascertain what domestic violence batterer intervention programs are like across the country. In order to determine this, we have developed a survey that investigates facilitator demographics, client demographics, facilitator insights, and program logistics. By doing so, we will be better able not only to understand how batterer intervention programs operate on the ground but also to develop more accurate policy recommendations in order to improve interventions.

Batterer intervention programs have become the most likely type of intervention after a domestic violence plea or conviction. An exhaustive review of the literature on batterer intervention programs found that some studies have resulted in mixed findings, due in part to flawed research design, but that some recent studies have shown cautious optimism about the positive intervention some batterer intervention programs provide (Eckhardt et al. 2013). Given these findings, such a study as ours is crucial to understanding how effective batterer intervention programs are across the nation and what can be done to improve them in order to reduce instances of intimate partner violence. In their study on leadership, philosophy, and structure of 276 batterer intervention programs in 45 states, Price and Rosenbaum (2009) found that although batterers are not a homogenous group, interventions are based on a “one size fits all” model. Given their findings, we propose to expand the case base to 3,500 batterer intervention programs across the U.S. and Canada. We also aim to study not only the philosophy and structure of these programs, but also the demographics of both facilitators and clients. Once the survey is completed, we intend to use them to publish journal articles about what we find as well as use them to create evidence based arguments for policy changes (assuming any are needed).

If you work at a batterer intervention program please participate in our survey by clicking this link

Clare Cannon, Tulane University

Domestic Violence (DV) Intervention Programs in México

Efforts to ameliorate partner abuse in clinical samples (also known as Domestic Violence) in México have largely focused primarily on treatment programs for victims. Such programs have been implemented throughout all the 32 states and delivery efforts have been commissioned to the National Institute of Women (Instituto Nacional de la Mujeres-INMUJERES) by means of its state Councils in all México. This has greatly aided women victims of domestic abuse who have made use of the states council’s services in terms of legal and psychological assistance.

In hand with these policies recent complementary efforts have been directed toward the implementation of batterer intervention programs. These re-educational programs follow an understanding of partner abuse where perpetrators need to amend their views on “traditional” or stereotypical beliefs about sex/roles.  A basic premise of these intervention programs within the “re-education” process” is:

“that perpetrators [men] of partner abuse commit a crime whilst women victims of it do not. There is great difference between perpetrating and suffering [violence]” (Híjar & Valdez Santiago, 2010: 17). As such, these programs have adopted a definition of violence as “Any act or omission based on its [the person’s] gender] that causes them psychological, physical, economical and/or sexual pain and suffering or death in private settings [e.g.  [at home] or in public” (Híjar & Valdez Santiago, 2010: 17).

This term is accompanied in the re-educational manual of victims and perpetrators of partner violence by a definition of victim [of partner abuse] as: “Women of any age who sustained any form of violence”; and a definition of perpetrator: “Any person who perpetrates any type of violence against women”.(Híjar & Valdez Santiago, 2010: 17).

As such, these programs deem Domestic Violence is a unitary phenomenon due to broad gender inequality differentials that are extrapolated all the way to family or the couple’s affairs. These efforts in México have been supported by federal legislation which has aimed its focus toward this kind of partner violence (gendered violence or violence against women borne out of cultural gender differentials) as part government initiatives to tackle structural gender inequality. The General Access of Women to a Life Free of Violence Law [Ley General de Acceso de las Mujeres a una Vida Libre de Violencia] approved by Congress and published in 2007, and updated in 2009 and most recently in 2014 exemplifies the above. Such law establishes a definition of family violence as:

“any abusive act of power or intentional omission aimed at controlling, dominating or aggressing women physically, verbally, psychologically, economically [even by means of using the partner’s property] and/or sexually within or out of the family home, whose aggressor has or has had a family relationship by consanguinity or affinity, of marriage, cohabitation or a factual relationship” (Cámara de Diputados del H. Congreso de la Unión, 2014: 31).

One of the main challenges in México in terms of partner abuse treatment and intervention program delivery lies within appropriate diagnostic of types of partner abuse or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in relationship dynamics (in either victims or perpetrators of IPV). Current Domestic Violence treatment and intervention programs in México provide assistance, aid and guidance exclusively to victims and perpetrators of violence against women.  There is conclusive empirical research elsewhere (e.g. Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2013; Hines & Douglas, 2010; Johnson, 2009; Laroche, 2005; Straus & Winstok, 2013) that supports the heterogeneity of partner violence perpetrators and victims thus research on different types of partner abuse or intimate partner violence in México is warranted.

Emerging research currently underway in México is attempting to identify different types of partner violence, backed up by research in other countries such as Canada, the UK, the US and others, in order to better inform IPV intervention program providers about the nature and the different developmental trajectories characteristic of specific IPV types (in clinical and youth populations).

Coming soon there will be an analysis available on prevalence, patterns of IPV and mental health repercussions of victims and perpetrators of partner abuse in Mexican samples. The main part of this upcoming report shall importantly contain recommendations on priorities of partner abuse intervention and focus on specific types of IPV or partner abuse victims and offenders empirically identified in México.


Cámara de Diputados del H. Congreso de la Unión (April 2014). Ley general de acceso de las mujeres a una vida libre de violencia [The General Access of women to a Life Free of Violence Law]. México City: Diario Oficial de la Federación.

Graham-Kevan, N., & Archer, J. (2003). Intimate terrorism and Common couple violence: A test of Johnson’s predictions in four British samples. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 18(11), 1247 – 1270).

Híjar, M., & Valdéz Santiago, R. (2010). Programa de reeducación para víctimas y agresores de violencia de pareja: Manual para responsables de programa [Re-education program for victims and perpetrators of intimate partner violence: A manual for program deliverers]. Cuernavaca, México, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública.

Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2011). Intimate terrorism by women toward men: Does it exist? Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 2(3), 36-56.

Johnson, M. P. (2009).Differentiating among different types of Domestic Violence: Implications for healthy marriages. In H. Elizabeth Peters and Claire M. Kamp Dush (Eds). Marriage and Family: Perspectives and complexities (pp. 281 – 297). New York: Columbia University Press.

Laroche, D. (2005). Aspects of the context and consequences of domestic violence-Situational couple violence and Intimate Terrorism in Canada in 1999.  Québec: Institut de la Statistique de Québec.

 Straus, M. A., & Winstok, Z. (August, 2013). Gender differences in the relation of dyadic types of partner violence to depression to depression among university students in 15 nations. Paper presented at the Society for the Study of Social Problems Annual Meeting. New York.

Domestic Violence against Men in India: A Perspective

Domestic Violence against Men in India – A Perspective – WHUM

In the absence of any systemic data, with more men coming up and reporting violence by women, it is important to understand and examine the issue of violence against men by women and associated factors. With changing gender roles and power relations, the author predicts that this will increase in the future, which will have far-reaching consequences and implications for the larger society and relationships between men and women. The paper attempts to understand the dynamics and factors that play or will play a crucial role in escalating violence against men by women. The paper is based on authors counseling sessions, discussion with men victims of violence, and other secondary sources.

Welcome to ADVIP

As the ADVIP founder and website administrator, I would like to welcome all of you to this wonderful new organization.  Our mission statement can be found by clicking the ABOUT link.  You can find our Advisory Board members in the BOARD section, and our current general membership list by clicking on the MEMBERSHIP link.

Because ADVIP is dedicated to evidence-based practice, we recommend strongly that you acquaint yourself with the articles and books in the RESEARCH pages.  The lists of books and journal articles are not meant to be exhaustive, but they do include some of the most recent, relevant research on domestic violence intervention.  They indicate is that while a fair amount of research has been amassed on the prevalence, dynamics, causes and consequences of intimate partner abuse in the United States, research from other countries is limited to investigations of prevalence rates.  Furthermore, the state of research on the effectiveness of perpetrator programs in Europe is still in its infancy, and it is essentially nonexistent in the rest of the world.  The most recent review by Eckhardt et al. found only a handful of rigorously-designed experimental studies in the United States.

Promising interventions include those based at least partly on Motivational Interviewing or other client-centered approaches, and interventions that include both partners. Conversely, there are indications that programs based on a Duluth-type of model, at least in the United States, do not substantially help to reduce rates of recidivism.  But again, the research is scant and mostly inconclusive, and almost exclusively based on U.S. samples.  Furthermore, very little of the empirical research, no matter how reliable, is reflected in the government standards regulating intervention programs, at least in the US.

Questions abound.  Are gender-based programs more suitable outside of the Western world?  In what cultural environment would couples or family therapy be contraindicated?  Can sociological explanations coexist alongside psychological theories?  Should treatment standards be the same for male and female offenders?  Ought providers be required to be mental health professionals?  How much training does a provider need before he or she can be trusted to facilitate perpetrator groups, and who should be entrusted to conduct such trainings?  To what extent should government bodies be involved in regulating intervention programs?

Your thoughts?