What is Batterer Intervention?
In Florida, the Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP) is a 6 month intensive program designed and monitored by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).
The program purports to address the root causes of domestic violence and prevent participants from committing acts of domestic violence in the future. It consists of an initial assessment, orientation, and at least twenty-six (26) weeks of group counseling sessions.
To commence the Florida Batterer’s Intervention Program, participants will first undergo an initial assessment, which is described by the Department of Children and Families as a ‘psychosocial’ evaluation to determine if [participants] will benefit from mental health or substance abuse treatment programs prior to or concurrent with batterer intervention.”
The participant must also sign a contract, admit responsibility for his or her acts, and follow strict rules and procedures as outlined by the program’s administrators. Violation of Batterer Intervention Program rules and procedures can result in a participant’s immediate expulsion from the program.
Upon completion of the initial assessment, the participant attends a one-time orientation, followed by at twenty-six consecutive weeks of group “counseling” sessions. Each group session is typically an hour and a half long and is presided over by a designated “facilitator.”
Failure to Complete Program
The failure of a defendant to attend all scheduled Batterer Intervention classes can result in termination from the program. This will cause the participant to violate probation, have a warrant issued for his or her arrest, and face the possibility of significant jail time.
Goals of Batterer Intervention
The curriculum used in the Florida Batterer’s Intervention Program is based on a so-called “intervention model,” which considers domestic violence to be the result of “one person . . . systematically using tactics of emotional and physical abuse in order to maintain power and control over the other.”
In following the “intervention model,” the Department of Children and Families requires that the BIP curriculum incorporate the following elements:
- An educational approach that assigns responsibility for the violence solely to the batterer and provides a strategy for assisting the batterer in taking responsibility for the violence;
- Content that encourages the participant to develop critical thinking skills that will allow the participant to rethink their behavior and identify behavior choices other than violence;
- Content that supports the belief that domestic violence is primarily a learned behavior;
- Content that supports the belief that domestic violence is not provoked or the result of substance abuse;
- Content designed to improve the batterer’s ability to identify and articulate feelings;
- Content designed to improve communication skills and listening with empathy;
- Content designed to improve negotiation and conflict resolution skills;
- Content that challenges stereotypical gender role expectations;
- Content that includes strategies for helping the batterer to develop and improve support systems;
- Content that identifies the effects of distorted thinking on emotions and behavior;
- Content that identifies the effects of domestic violence on children, and
- Content that includes information on the relationship of substance abuse to domestic violence.
Cost of Batterer Intervention
If the duration and rigor of the Batterer’s Intervention Program was not enough, the Florida legislature and the Department of Children and Families has made the program exceedingly expensive.
Participants are typically charged an enrollment or program fee, and a $30.00 “participant fee” for each weekly group counseling session. With fees and transportation costs, successful completion of the Batterer’s Intervention Program will cost a participant anywhere between $700 and $1,000.00.
Contact an Attorney
A domestic violence charge is a serious matter with severe penalties. If you have been accused, contact an attorney immediately.
In Florida, Domestic violence is one of the most defendable charges in all of criminal law, and a decision to plead should not be made without a lawyer thoroughly reviewing your case and considering all of your legal options. Contact Hussein & Webber, PL today for a free consultation.