Uncategorized

Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Research, Uncategorized

Issues in Recovery: Addressing Intimate Partner Violence

DrugScope have been working with London services, commissioners, and academics to examine how the needs of individuals who have experienced intimate partner violence can be better addressed within substance misuse services. Lauren Garland writes about the new briefing published by DrugScope on behalf of the Recovery partnership.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an issue which disproportionately affects people accessing drug and alcohol services. Research suggests that women who have experienced gender based violence are 5.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with a substance misuse problem over the course of their lifetime, while anotherstudy suggests that 21% of people who had experienced IPV believed that the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol and 8% thought the perpetrator had used illicit drugs.

DrugScope have published a briefing paper which considers how substance misuse systems and services can better address the needs of people affected by drug and alcohol problems and…

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Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, Restorative Justice, Schools, Uncategorized, Youth

New York City preparing to expand restorative justice programs

validus-hallway-e1403307041443 Jackie Schecter reports for Chalkbeat on New York City's plan to expand restorative justice programs throughout public schools.

The head of the Department of Education’s Office of Safety and Youth Development verbally committed to provide new support for restorative justice programs at a May meeting about school discipline issues, according to two attendees. Though few details of the expansion have been finalized, the agreement represents the administration’s first step toward enacting discipline policy changes that Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Mayor Bill de Blasio have both called for.

Click here to read the full article.

Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Research, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention

Reducing Rates of Re-offending: What works and what doesn't

Below is a summary of a January 2013 report entitled, What works to reduce recidivism by domestic violence offenders? This report was published by Washington State Institute for Public Policy. All statistics, research findings, and information related to Washington state’s domestic violence laws presented below, were drawn from the Institute's report which can be accessed here..

Following a 2012 legislative mandate, Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) set out to update it’s review of the literature on the efficacy of domestic violence (DV) treatment programs. In particular, WSIPP focused on treatment outcomes for offenders mandated to Duluth-style programs. According to the institute, Washington State law requires that DV treatment programs adhere to Duluth Model guidelines which conceptualize domestic violence as the following: “...a gender-specific behavior which is socially and historically constructed. Men are socialized to take control and to use physical force when necessary to maintain dominance”. Substance abuse, mental illness, dysfunctional relationship dynamics, and other potentially relevant etiological issues are not seen as related within this model. In Washington State--as well as in states with similar laws--the use of non-Duluth treatment programs such as cognitive behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, or anger management is prohibited.

In January 2013, WSIPP released a report outlining the results of their systematic review of group-based treatment for domestic violence offenders. Below are some of the most pertinent findings.

Summary conclusions: “Based on six rigorous outcome evaluations of group-based DV treatment for male offenders, we conclude that the Duluth model, the most common treatment approach, appears to have no effect on recidivism. This updated finding is consistent with our (and others’) previous work on this topic. There may be other reasons for courts to order offenders to participate in these Duluth-like programs, but the evidence suggests that DV recidivism will not decrease as a result” (pg. 12)

Impact on recidivism for “Duluth-like” programs: “We also considered programs to be similar to Duluth if the study authors said the curriculum included “power and control” dynamics, “sex role stereotyping,” or gender-based values. Six of the 11 effect sizes assessed Duluth-like programs. We analyzed separately the results of these six effect sizes and found that, on average, programs using Duluth-like models had no effect on recidivism (see the upper panel in Exhibit 3); therefore, this approach cannot be considered “evidence-based” (or research-based or promising)” (pg. 6)

Impact on recidivism for non-Duluth Model programs: “...when these other non-Duluth models are analyzed as a whole, the combined effects indicate a statistically significant reduction in DV recidivism (the lower “average effect size” in Exhibit 3). The average effect was a 33% reduction in domestic violence recidivism” (pg. 6)

The models that indicate efficacy with regards to reducing repeat incidents of DV offending in Exhibit 3 include:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (Palmer, 1992, and Dunford, 2000b) Relationship enhancement (Waldo, 1988) Substance abuse treatment (Easton, 2007) Group couples counseling (Dunford, 2000a)

Based on their research, WSIPP also suggest that addressing offender psychopathology through therapy aimed at treating Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could be efficacious. This is particularly promising they note, given that both BPD and PTSD are highly prevalent among DV offenders and both disorders are associated with impulsive and aggressive behavior (pg. 7)

Rethinking our Dependence on the Duluth Model Paradigm

Research such as this is hugely important for the domestic violence field. Data on rates of DV incidents and on rates of DV incidents which end in homicide continues to show that domestic violence remains a major social problem. The development and utilization of evidence-based treatment models which can be shown to reduce recidivism has never been more pressing. In their January 2013 report, WSIPP highlights that 44 of 50 states in the U.S have legal guidelines that stipulate the kind of treatment professionals can legally administer. Furthermore, "In 28 states, standards for DV treatment specify the Duluth model by name, or require that power and control dynamics—central to the Duluth model—must be included in the treatment curriculum".

This mandate is highly troubling. When put to the test via rigorous research standards the Duluth Model fails time and again to reduce rates of re-offending and yet it remains the treatment of choice for professionals engaged in this difficult work. In light of this failure, a paradigm shift regarding our conceptualization of domestic violence, including how we view and work with both victim and offender, is needed. A suggestion such as this which challenges the core assumptions of the feminist-rooted Duluth Model is viewed by many as an anti-woman, victim-blaming stance. We cannot however continue to allow criticisms and challenges such as this to prevent us from developing innovative work in the area of violence intervention and treatment.

Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Empowerment, Healing, Intimate Partner Violence, Restorative Justice, Schools, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention, Women, Youth

Continued success of RJ in schools offers hope for the domestic violence field

Recently released data from the 2013-14 school year reveals that suspension and expulsion rates throughout California public schools continue to decline. This is the second year in a row that rates of suspensions and expulsions have dropped across the state. The report, released by the California Department of Education (CDE), notes that this downward trend has correlated with the implementation of innovative and non-punitive responses to classroom rule breaking. Such responses include the development and broad utilization of restorative justice programs. Lisa Schmidt--a juvenile defense attorney who represents youth in suspension and expulsion hearings--contends that the results presented in the CDE report have implications that extend far beyond student discipline. For example, Schmidt highlights that schools with restorative justice programs not only report lower rates of suspension and expulsion, they also report marked improvements in other areas including graduation rates, absenteeism, and literacy.

Schmidt goes on to say that the efficacy of restorative justice programs lies in the core assumption that students’ problem behavior can be positively changed: “...restorative justice doesn’t simply remove a problem from the classroom. Instead it uses misbehavior as a learning opportunity, teaching students the consequences of their actions and how to make better choices”.

Implications for Domestic Violence Intervention

Here at the Center on Violence and Recovery (CVR) we remain committed to the idea that the theory of restorative justice (RJ) offers victims of violence and trauma efficacious ways of ending the violence that has plagued their lives. This includes victims of domestic and intimate partner violence. We are inspired by the diligent work of teachers, parents, and students in public schools across the nation who have fought back against punitive responses to school-based behavior infractions--responses which have wholly failed to address the identified problem behavior. The data released by the CDE should motivate all those who are passionate about the development of more effective and victim-centered responses to crime and wrongdoing.

CVR strongly believes that RJ theory and practice, when used properly, can increase victim safety, help survivors heal, and ultimately decrease rates of repeat incidents of domestic violence. In addition to working with survivors around their identified needs, RJ offers the potential to intervene with perpetrators in a meaningful way by holding offenders accountable for their actions and teaching alternatives to violent and aggressive behavior.

Our belief in RJ as a DV intervention stems from the encouraging research results of CVR’s National Science Foundation funded-study which indicated that RJ-based interventions for domestic violence can be both safe and effective with regards to preventing future violent incidents (Mills, Barocas, & Ariel, 2012). Published in 2012, the research found that when compared to offenders who had undergone treatment in a traditional batterer intervention program, offenders who in the RJ-based model, recidivated at significantly lower rates 12-months post random assignment. This research is currently being replicated in Salt Lake City, UT.

Coupled with the growing support that restorative justice programs are receiving in schools across the nation to deal with problematic, defiant, and sometimes violent behavior, these findings provide victims and advocates alike tangible hope for a violence-free future.

For more information on the exciting and innovative research work underway at CVR, please visit our website here

Full citation for the Center's 2012 study: The next generation of court-mandated domestic violence treatment: A comparison study of batterer intervention and restorative justice programs. Journal of Experimental Criminology 9(1) DOI: 10.1007/s11292-012-9164-x

Community-Based Intervention, Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Restorative Justice, Transformative Justice, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention, Women

Creative Interventions: Community-Based IPV Intervention

The Mission of Creative Interventions is to create community-based options for interventions to interpersonal violence. Creative Interventions provides collective, creative, and flexible solutions, which take into account the realities and resources of each situation and community. By bringing knowledge and power back to those closest to and most impacted by violence, Creative Interventions breaks isolation and clears the path towards holistic, viable and sustainable systems of violence intervention and community health.

Established in 2004, Creative Interventions is an innovative and powerful resource for survivors and advocates who have experienced frustration and failure with current responses to intimate partner violence (IPV). Mimi Kim, founder of Creative Interventions, reports that after working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault for over 15 years she began to ask herself challenging questions related to the assumptions underlying traditional intervention strategies.

“After taking hundreds of crisis calls from survivors of domestic violence, I realized that I always asked the questions, Have you thought of leaving? Did you call the police? Why did my solutions assume that leaving was the only option? Why did they assume that the best way to achieve safety was to call the police? Why weren’t there any other options?”

This is an indispensable resource for everyone who works in the domestic violence field. On their website, Creative Intervention provides access to a Toolkit which outlines the community-based model for violence intervention. This toolkit can be downloaded in full, or if more appropriate, the individual intervention tools can be downloaded and tailored to fit victim and/or agency need.

For more information on the exciting work underway at Creative Interventions, please visit their website by clicking here.

To access the Toolkit, click here

Criminal Justice System, Prison, Rehabilitation, Restorative Justice, Uncategorized, Youth

How Restorative Justice Changed This Colorado Cop's Views on Prison

Officer Ruprecht continued to feel skeptical about this process, but something was definitely changing. He saw how much money had already been saved by choosing to go down this route instead of jailing the boys and sending them into a lengthy and expensive judicial process. He realized that restorative justice had more teeth than conventional punishment because it imposes real, face-to-face accountability among offenders for their actions, and makes them listen directly to the victims of their crimes. He realized that six young lives might be saved from years of cycling in and out of the prison system. He learned that the human brain doesn't develop fully until the age of 22 or thereabouts, so punishment and fear-inciting prison regimes have an even bigger impact on the development of young people. He remembered his own children and recognized that more than anything else, they and others deserve the chance to make mistakes and pick themselves back up again, sure in the knowledge of their own inherent worth and value.

Click here to read more about how the power and efficacy of restorative justice diversion programs for youth have impacted law enforcement officials in Colorado!

Empowerment, Restorative Justice, Schools, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention, Youth

Long Beach, CA Students use Theater to Promote RJ

Last week, as students rallied in front of the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) the school board passed a resolution to encourage teachers and administrators to use alternative discipline policies in schools. The week before, students and community members came together to demonstrate what that could look like on a daily basis. Facilitated by the community theatre group, the Cornerstone Theatre, Long Beach youth presented “Tangle”– a play that revolved around problem-solving and conflict resolution using Restorative Justice (RJ).

Read the full story, here


Domestic Violence, DV Statistics, Empowerment, Intimate Partner Violence, Research, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention, Women

IPV and the Military

Pacific Standard contributor Lauren Kirchner recently reviewed a 2013 Journal of Family Violence study examining Veterans Health Administration (VHA) perspectives on screening patients for intimate partner violence (IPV). The study reveals that female veterans experience IPV at rates much higher than the general public. The study also highlights that while women comprise a growing number of active duty personnel and veterans, their unique health care needs often go unaddressed. VHA doctors lamented the lack the training they receive when it comes to identifying and intervening in cases of IPV. One doctor interviewed for the study had the following to say about screening for domestic violence among female veterans: “It’s just really not on my radar. It is so overshadowed by other mental health issues and substance abuse issues that, relative to those topics, IPV isn’t really up there.”

This failure to recognize the role that IPV plays in exacerbating such issues speaks to the need for increased training among VHA practitioners around identifying IPV in patients. For IPV survivors and advocates, it comes as no surprise that women experiencing abuse would present with a myriad of mental health concerns and substance abuse issues—particularly if this abuse is compounded by combat related trauma.

While millions gather today to pay tribute to the men and women who have served in the nation’s military, let us also acknowledge the problem of IPV for female veterans and their families. Improving the healthcare that America’s veterans receive is no doubt the best way to honor their service.

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Criminal Justice System, Prison, Rehabilitation, Restorative Justice, Uncategorized

Crime victims find healing through restorative justice

Following the murder of her husband--a San Leandro, CA police officer--Dione Wilson struggled for years to move past her crippling grief. In an interview with San Francisco's KALW Public Radio station, Wilson describes her hope that a guilty verdict would bring her the peace she needed to move on with her life. "I had this little light at the end of the tunnel. I kept thinking, it’s almost over, he’s gonna get convicted. He’s gonna be on death row. I’m gonna feel better. I’m gonna feel better. And then when it happened, and he did get put on death row, I waited, and I waited, and I waited. And I thought, Huh, well, it really didn’t work. I don’t feel better, I feel worse"

After exhausting all resources available in the criminal justice system, Wilson turned to the Insight Prison Project--a restorative justice (RJ) based organization which helps facilitate victim-offender dialogue meetings. Meetings such as these bring together offenders with those who have been harmed as a result of their crime to have a discussion around accountability, harm, and repair. Sonya Shah, the advocacy director of Insight Prison Project had the following to say about why crime victims often do not find healing through the traditional processes of the criminal justice system:

In that process, what’s missing is nobody actually asks me as a person who’s committed a crime what I’ve done. And nobody actually gives me an opportunity to take accountability. And on the side of a survivor, the victim of the crime, nobody asks that victim what they need. What the impact of the harm was. And what does the victim think the obligation is on the side of the person who’s committed the harm. Victims are just used often to convict

In contrast, Shah continues, "Restorative justice invites a very different process of repairing harm. It takes into account crime survivor’s needs, community safety, public safety, accountability, and really actually getting to the root causes of harm."

To hear about about Dione Wilson's inspiring story, click here to listen her interview on KALW.

For additional information on the exciting work underway at Insight Prison Project, visit their website by clicking here.

Domestic Violence, DV Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence, Uncategorized

NO MORE: Challenging the Current DV Paradigm

This month, the NO MORE PSA Campaign launched a series of print, broadcast, online, and outdoor advertisements, the goal of which is to raise awareness around issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. The 3-year long campaign was developed in response to a study conducted earlier this year which revealed what many advocates and survivors have long known--namely, that domestic violence and sexual assault continue to be widespread and that there exists a shockingly high degree of silence and inaction around both issues. A call to action

Given these findings, the NO MORE campaign has chosen not to direct their message to individual victims or offenders. Instead, the campaign calls on friends and family members to take action to intervene in potentially violent situations to prevent survivors from experiencing further victimization. The message of NO MORE is also directed at society as a whole; challenging widespread beliefs about accountability and victimization.

In the print and television ads, celebrities such as Mariska Hargitay call for an end to the excuses commonly used to justify inaction. Rationalizations such as "She was really drunk", "He's such a nice guy though", or "Why doesn't she just leave" are among the many which are exposed. Below are two of the many online videos produced by NO MORE.


The brilliance of the this campaign lies in its message of broad accountability, calling on friends, family members, and even coworkers to do their part to end or prevent sexual assault and domestic violence. Such a message refocuses the accusatory attention often directed at survivors of victimization--attention which sadly blames the survivor for being abused or sexually assaulted. The inclusion of men in the delivery of the NO MORE campaign's message is also a step in the right direction. Too often women are instructed on how to best protect themselves against a potential assault. We are told to not go out alone at night, to carry pepper spray with us at all times, and to be careful of how much alcohol we drink at a party. Those who are intent on harming women are unfortunately not included in conversations about ending sexual assault and domestic violence, thus absolving them of any responsibility for their wrongdoing and further stigmatizing victims. Furthermore, as can be seen in one of the videos above, NO MORE includes statistics on male victims of intimate violence and sexual assault, challenging the notion that men are always perpetrators of violence and never the victims.

Unfortunately however, the NO MORE ads fail to address the issue of domestic violence within same-sex relationships. In addition to male victimization, intimate violence between LGBTQ couples is under addressed in the anti-violence movement. The inclusion of statistics as they relate to rates of victimization in the LGBTQ community would have served to further strengthen the message of this campaign.

Redefining the victim

As was mentioned above, it is widely believed that men are always perpetrators of violence while women are always victims. Not only are these beliefs inaccurate as they relate to the reality of male victimization, they assume that violence only takes place within heterosexual relationships. Advocating for a more inclusive definition of victim is not intended to undermine the gendered nature of domestic violence and sexual assault. Indeed, statistics on domestic violence and sexual assault reveal the centrality of gender in the dynamics of both forms of victimization. Our hope here at CVR is that anti-violence activists and advocates will continue to examine and expose the misconceptions that have long harmed survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Only after redefining victimization to reflect the totality of experiences with domestic violence and sexual assault can treatment and intervention offer individuals a viable option to end the violence that plagues the lives of survivors, their families, and their communities as well.

For more information on male victimization, click here to visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website.

More information on domestic violence within the LGBTQ community can be found here.

Empowerment, Restorative Justice, Schools, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention, Youth

Restorative justice message unites students

RJ Student activist Kylar Hughes, pictured above, is a member of ReThink, a citywide, schools-based restorative justice club.

"The restorative-justice approach is designed to foster communication and conflict-resolution skills among students, aiming to defang feuds and beefs before they escalate. Students gather in a circle to air grievances with an eye toward resolving them."

Read more about ReThink and the movement to promote restorative justice in schools here

Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Uncategorized

Police Take on Family Violence to Avert Deaths

With domestic violence murders on the rise in New York City in 2011, NYPD's domestic violence unit has begun to make precautionary visits to households with a history of domestic violence incidents.

As part of their work, the officers assigned to the domestic violence unit make a total of 70,000 precautionary visits a year to the households with past episodes. Each precinct station house also maintains a “high propensity” list of a dozen or so households that get special attention because they are believed to be most at risk of further violence.

Read the full article here

Domestic Violence, DV Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence, Research, Uncategorized

New York DV stats show uptick in 2012

The Division of Criminal Justice Services reported 54,848 domestic violence victims outside New York City in 2012, up more than 1,700, or 3 percent, from the year before. The New York Police Department, using data that excludes some lower level crimes, said there were 30,428 domestic violence victims last year, an increase of about 1,500. State criminal justice officials said Wednesday that the increase in police reports about domestic assaults, sex offenses and violations of protection orders may reflect an ongoing push for victims to contact authorities.

Recently released data on incidents of domestic violence throughout New York reveal an increase in rates for the year 2012. Read the full article here for a summary of 2012's findings

Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Uncategorized

Domestic violence and the “abusive monster”/“weak woman” labels

Throughout our efforts to develop safe and effective domestic violence treatment options, the Center on Violence and Recovery has remained critical of stereotypical conceptualizations related to incidents, perpetrators, and victims of domestic abuse. In the above piece, Pop Feminist blogger Naira Ruiz addresses the harms created by such conceptualizations—namely, through the pathologizing of victims who stay in abusive relationships and the minimizing of violence which is not overt and physical.

Criminal Justice System, Research, Restorative Justice, Uncategorized

Restorative Justice more Effective for Serious Crimes

As we've mentioned elsewhere on this blog, serious concerns exist with regards to use of restorative justice to address violent criminal offenses. Of the few restorative justice programs in existence across the U.S, the majority target juvenile offenders who have committed low-level, non-violent property crimes. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency which has implemented a restorative juvenile diversion program throughout Almeda County in Oakland, CA is one notable example. In New Zealand however, where the use of RJ throughout the criminal justice system is widespread, new research has challenged the notion that RJ would be ineffective in addressing the harms caused by more serious crimes. In fact, the study claims that RJ may actually be more effective in helping victims heal and in reducing rates of reoffending in cases where the criminal offense is more serious in nature.

Highlights of this new research includes the following as reported by New Zealand's Scoop Independent News:

Restorative Justice conferencing is more effective in cases of serious crime, particularly cases of violence, than in cases of property theft, or minor incidents. Overall, restorative justice conferencing, reduces reoffending by about 20%, with around 90% of victims registering satisfaction with the process, and indicating that it has helped them in the healing process.

A 2007 UK Ministry of Justice research concluded that there was a 27% drop in reoffending by those who experienced restorative justice across a wide range of offences from less serious juvenile crime through to adult robbery and serious assault, compared with those who took part in the usual criminal justice process.

A 2011 New Zealand research showed a 20% reduction in reoffending, and long term fiscal benefits arising out of 1,500 conferences of $7.6m for the public sector, and $9.9m for the private sector.

Read the full story here

Restorative Justice, Schools, Uncategorized

Discipline Reform in NYC Schools

Hilary Lustick, a former high school English teacher in Brooklyn and current member of Teachers Unite, provides important insights regarding the discussion of punitive disciplinary measures in schools. Based on her past experience as an educator, in addition to information gathered through interviews with New York City teachers, Lustick contends that discipline reform is desperately needed and restorative justice offers a viable solution.

Just Restoration vs. "It's Just Policy": What Will it Take to Truly Reform School Discipline?

Criminal Justice System, Uncategorized, Violence Intervention

Save Our Streets: Alternatives to Violence Intervention and Prevention

SOS-Crown-HeightsBetween 2010 and 2012 The Center for Court Innovation evaluated the efficacy of the Save Our Streets (SOS) project to combat gun violence in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood. SOS is a remarkable community-based organization which has developed an innovative approach to dealing with gun violence. Using outreach workers to target high risk individuals--namely, those who are at risk of either perpetrating or falling victim to gun violence--SOS has had a significant impact on rates of violence in the community. SOS outreach workers also engage in violence interruption--a strategy used to identify and mediate conflicts which have the potential to erupt in gun violence. The study concluded through monthly analysis of gun violence in Crown Heights that overall, violence dropped by 6%, while 3 comparison neighborhoods saw an increase in gun violence by 18% to 28%

This is an inspiring story for anyone who is interested in restorative justice. Specifically, the work of SOS supports the idea that violent behavior is not inevitable and that change is possible without punitive punishment. By focusing on the individual and providing support to both (potential) victim and offender, SOS has effectively prevented future acts of violence from taking place.

To learn more about SOS, visit their website by clicking here. Information about the specifics of their anti-violence program model can found here.