Can You “Fix” Abuse?

Can You “Fix” Abuse?

Counseling for Abusive Spouse Is Possible. Here’s How

Katherine van Wormer and her co-author, Albert R. Roberts, have written a book about men who kill their partners, “Death by Domestic Violence (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008).” They have also developed a new model for treating abusers.

The current model isn’t as effective as it could be,” said van Wormer, 63. We can even do better with a more holistic approach to treatment that gets to the root of the problem which may be different in individual cases. Treatment should be individualized, not one-size-fits-all.”

The current treatment model, according to Van Wormer, is the Duluth Intervention Model. It shows you how the person who is perpetrator uses economic control, control over the women, power plays to get at the woman, and so almost all the batterer intervention programs are based on this.”

But she doesn’t think the model is as effective as it could be because it’s based on the premise that the patriarchal system in this country” is the problem because it diminishes the importance of women: If you look at surveys, you will see that …our society does not share the belief that it’s OK to beat up your wife.”

Van Wormer thinks it’s more complicated. “…We can’t talk about brain damage or substance abuse,” she said.

Van Wormer is presenting another approach, one that takes into consideration batter’s personal history to understand them and help them understand themselves better. They have to meet the men where they are….” she said. Our model for prevention is a harm reduction model which is based on research, on treatment intervention effectiveness and the effectiveness of practical steps that can be taken when a break-up (the most dangerous time for homicide) is planned or has been carried out,” van Womer said.

The model includes:

  • Arrest and imprisonment of men who are unsuitable for treatment or who have failed to complete treatment.
  • Intensive court-ordered treatment.
  • Intervention using a cognitive approach directed at the men’s irrational thinking patterns and related behaviors.
  • Referral to a psychiatrist for a prescription for anti-depressants if depression is a problem.
  • And substance abuse treatment to be integrated with the intervention, if substance abuse is evident.

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Interviews with wives who were almost murdered indicated three-fourths had alcohol and other drug problems,” said Van Wormer. Given the new model, Van Wormer is confident. I believe a lot can be done.”


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