Batterers Intervention Program
I got a call today while offering my time to answer calls for the Massachusetts Bar Association’s monthly Dial-a-Lawyer program regarding the Batterers Intervention Program (BIP). BIP is a program for batterers in a domestic violence situation. It is similar to AA for alcoholics where batterers go and get counseling as a group and also individually. The purpose is to rehabilitate the batterer so that they no longer batter their spouse, significant other or family member. Does it work? Rarely.
The recidivism rate for batterers who attended and completed the BIP is unacceptably high. There can be many explanations – it’s not a voluntary problem for most because they’re referred by the criminal justice system; they see it as punishment; once a batterer, always a batterer. There are a myriad of explanations but the one thing I know for sure is that they don’t work well.
As a victim of domestic abuse and violence, should you depend on the BIP to rehabilitate your abuser? A therepist or counselor would tell you that it’s up to you to decide. However, as a divorce attorney, I don’t have to be impartial and I believe it to be my job to advise people who they should do. My advice is this: it’s great that the abuser is going to treatment and I hope they never batter someone else but for the abused, it’s already too late. A good and healthy relationship won’t likely result from any treatment so the victim must move on. Get a divorce or move away.
A counselor will probably advise that the victim decide for themselves because it empowers them but I believe victims are seeking different advice when they go see an attorney than when they go see a counselor.