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«Evaluation of Three Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions: FVEP, EXPLORE, and EVOLVE Stephen M. Cox, Ph.D. Professor Pierre M. Rivolta, Ph.D. ...»

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Session 1: Rules; Equality vs. Power and Control – Emphasizes a group dynamic by identifying the power and control aspects of harmful relationships, participants may begin to realize the negative impact of their behavior and then after seeing the equality wheel may start to picture changing. The central point is letting go of control and accepting powerlessness over other people’s actions Session 2: Effects of Violence on Others - Discussion about how relationship violence impacts partner, children, other people, and yourself. Emphasis on the impact of family violence on children; this awareness can tremendously increase one’s motivation to change.

Session 3: Accountability and Time Out – Stages of change are discussed. Emphasis on acceptance of personal responsibility for the action and learning to take a time out when a situation escalates.

Session 4: Anger and Cognitive Restructuring – Examining thoughts and feelings in depth to understand how they relate to behaviors. Identifying cognitive distortions that lead to anger.

Managing emotions effectively and emphasizing positive self-talk.

Session 5: Socialization and Stereotypes – Societal and cultural differences are examined as a way of understanding how violence is learned. Where and how people learn about violence.

This session uses the group dynamic to show how people are socialized differently and how violence can be learned from a number of different sources.

Session 6: Substance Use/Gambling and the Change Process – Learning the connection between substance use and family violence. Use/abuse/dependence. Positive and negative emotional triggers leading to substance use. Comorbidity of substance use and family violence.

Session 7: Communication Skills and Problem Solving – Aggressive, passive, and assertive communication. Assertive communication = win-win.

Session 8: Maintaining Healthy Relationships – Normalizing the stress and struggles that participants face. Increase the healthiness of difficult relationships and applying these skills.

Healthy ways to manage stress and take care of oneself.

Session 9: Developing an Action Plan – Review of skills that have been taught and healthy coping mechanisms. Self-identification of their current stage of change. Action plan includes identifying risky situations – skills that “help me” – and what “I will do.” Summary of Program – The overall emphasis of FVEP is to start the process of change by educating participants about the common issues that personal relationships can face. The program does not take a hardline approach that participants are deeply flawed individuals or criminals, rather most of the education phase of the program enlightens participants about the challenges that they are facing and that they are not alone in their struggles. Once participants have been shown how unhealthy relationships can encompass different types of emotional and Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University physical abuse and have detrimental effects on their children, participants are encouraged to accept responsibility for their transgressions and begin the process of change. Cognitivebehavioral therapy is then introduced. In this context, CBT emphasizes identifying the cognitive distortions leading to the detrimental abusive behavior that led to legal interdiction and changing these distortions into healthy, rational, pro-social responses. Participants are encouraged to develop a plan for their future that puts this change into action and helps them to achieve a mutually beneficial, healthy relationship with their partner.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University

–  –  –

A 26 week program for male batterers of female intimate partners. There are 26 90-minute group sessions, once per week, each starting with check-in period.

Check-in consists of welcoming new members to the group and then asking each member to report on use of violence, control, and/or abuse. Stressful situations/close calls and how they handled themselves. Relationship updates, new arrests, drug/alcohol usage, skills used since last group or how they used what they have learned.

Sessions (key concepts and techniques utilized will be summarized)

1) Defining “intimate violence” and identifying how domestic violence laws apply when you have hit, hurt, or seriously threatened violence against family members, member of household, former spouse, person with whom you have recently lived, person with whom you have a child, a person with whom you are in or have recently been in a dating relationship with.

Dividing domestic violence into physical violence, emotional abuse, threats, intimidation, isolation, sexual abuse, use of children, economic abuse, and use of male privilege.

Participants conceptualize different types of violence and abuse and clinician writes responses on board while informing the group of topics not identified. The main point of session one is to educate group about the harmfulness and progression of abusive behavior and to show what behavior is illegal.

2) Review of “control log” which had members identify specific acts about how they have used control against their partner and their specific intent behind the act. Pointing out to the group that these behaviors and beliefs can be changed. Explore the feelings/emotions before and during the incident.





Power and Control wheel: participants will provide examples of specific behaviors for each category of the wheel. Intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimization, denial, blaming, using children, male privilege, economic abuse, coercion and threats.

Cycle of violence: honeymoon period tension building period violent/abusive incident honeymoon period.

Participants will generate opinions for other means of handling the situation and their feelings. Emphasis on time-out as a way to initially get enough space to gain perspective.

Breaking the cycle.

3) Anger cues – Anger and underlying feelings. Emphasis on avoiding situations that are likely to lead to violence/abuse and when they cannot be predicted to take a time-out.

Have group identify bodily responses to anger and behaviors that result when they are angry.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University Emphasis is on identifying the feelings that underlie the anger and anger being a secondary emotion. Pointing out that anger is an emotion that can result from vulnerable feelings and that the expression of this anger is what may have led to their arrest. Anger does not have to lead to aggression.

Idea of sharing “vulnerable feelings” with partner and taking responsibility to teach her what he needs and wants when sharing these feelings with her.

4) Time-out process: eliminate violence and abuse by avoiding situations likely to lead to it.

Time-out is a way of rebuilding trust a little bit at a time. Not driving, not drinking/drugging, leaving the building for a set period of time that is agreed upon with partner. It is a way of rebuilding trust and facilitating effective communication not to be used as another way to control their partner.

5) Excuses/Justifications – Accountability/Personal Responsibility. Group will identify reasons/excuses that explain their violence and abuse. Transitioning thought process from excuses to personal accountability i.e. without verbally minimizing the extent or externalizing the blame.

6) Accountability letters – Review of homework which was designed to have members accept responsibility for abusive, violent, and controlling behavior and the impact it had on the victim rather than justifying/blaming others.

7) Jealousy, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, positive self-talk. Cognitive restructuring exercise: situation thoughts feelings behaviors (identified by group) and then present alternatives that apply topics which were previously reviewed including behaviors and thoughts. Positive self-talk can be used as a way of influencing the entire chain.

8) Substance abuse/domestic violence connection. Focus on the detrimental effects on children and the family dynamics. Importance of addressing substance abuse issues independently from the domestic violence issues.

9) Socialization of violence – Emphasis on different socialization processes and cultural impact. Identifying a group consensus of the causes of violence (genetic/learned) how group believes violence can be learned. Places, family, culture, media, church, courts, sports, religion, military – learning that violence is accepted or expected.

10) Gender socialization –Identifying what men believe their role is in society, how it differs between cultures and their roles in relationships. Differing between socialization messages and healthy messages

11) Socialization role plays – Group members perform role play scenarios illustrating domestic violence and controlling behavior. Once role play is completed, group members are asked “what kind of man do you want to be?” The purpose is to illustrate the negative behaviors exhibited and call for change which acknowledges women’s rights.

Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University

12) Sexuality and Violence/Sexual Respect –“Unit Overview” – Facilitates understanding of healthy sexual habits in relationships. Identifies several different scenarios and provides guidelines for better sexual communication and respect.

13) Effects on the victim: Developing empathy and understanding – Illustrates the woman’s perspective on violence from a first person account. Pointing out cognitive distortions (denial, minimization, and blame) to avoid taking responsibility and trying to turn these distortions into empathy.

14) Effects on the victim: Anger and trust – Assist men in understanding the damaging effects of violence on their relationships, recognizing and respecting their partner’s anger and mistrust, and developing strategies for improving. Multiple scenarios are reviewed preparing participants to let go of their partner and/or not force themselves upon their partner.

15) Effects on the victim: Recognizing your partner as separate and distinct from you.

Recognizing partner’s separateness and identifying and dealing with issues that arise when a partner chooses to end a relationship. More scenarios.

16) Effects on the victim: Separation, divorce, and letting go. Scenarios reviewed dealing with issues that arise when a partner chooses to end the relationship. Teaching participants that they need to employ tactics learned earlier in the program such as timeout and responsibility plans for avoiding violence.

17) Compassion and equality: Emphasis on showing compassion for partner and empathizing. Compassion vs. anger. Equality wheel = negotiation, non-threatening, respect, trust, honesty responsible parenting, shared responsibility, economic partnership.

18) Effects on the victim: Empathy letters – Letter’s written in which group members pretend to be the victim of the same abuse, violence, and/or control that they inflicted on their partner and describe their feelings as the victim.

19) Effects on the children: Informing group about the reality of children being very aware of domestic violence occurring even if the children may have been sleeping at the time.

Long list of detrimental effects on children are listed.

20) Non-violent parenting - Abuse of children wheel is explained to contrast good parenting as intimidation, using institutions, emotional abuse, economic abuse, threats, using adult privilege. Nurturing children wheel is trust and respect, promoting emotional security, providing physical security, consistent discipline, give time, encouragement, affection and, care for yourself.

21) Co-parenting – How men can create a more positive relationship with their children’s mother that respects her needs and fears. Crafting a positive relationship over time with your child’s mother that respects the law, her needs, and her fears. Respect court orders Court-Mandated Family Violence Interventions Central Connecticut State University and understand how their violence has been a contributor to relationship problems between their children and their children’s mother.

22) Assertive, non-coercive communication – Defining the differences between aggressive, assertive, and passive communication. Uses different vocabulary to illustrate different types of speech. Uses CBT to show how ineffective communication does not achieve the desired result and then shows the benefits of assertive behavior and how to modify cognition to change the behavior.

23) Active listening – the most important element of communication. Group members should be able to describe the situation and be able to paraphrase what the speaker has said.

24) Problem-solving – Discussing how communication and active listening are the keys to the process of solving relationship problems. Scenario is described and different elements are dissected by the group. This shows how to implement problem solving through effective hypothetical communication. Evaluating the pros and cons and utilizing costbenefit analyses.

25) Stress Management & Relaxation – Stress as an internal response within us to something we perceive as a threat, acute or chronic. Identifies coping skills, positive and negative and the adverse health effects. Breaking the stress cycle.

26) Common characteristics of people who are violent/abusive to their partner – Dependency jealousy possessiveness isolation. Aggressive low self-esteem passive.

Provides basic summary of how each concept should be dealt with by transforming these feelings into pro-social thoughts and expressions.



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