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What is a certified batterer's intervention program?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed November 2019, Bob Haynor, Director IPAEPS, MA Department of Public Health

Intimate Partner Abuse Education Programs (IPAEP) are education programs for people who abuse their intimate partners. Your intimate partner is the person you decided you want to be close with. This may be your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, significant other, the love of your life, or your soulmate. These programs used to be called "batterer intervention."

The court can only order an abuser to go to a program that has been "certified" by the state.

If the court orders you to go to a certified IPAEP, expect that:

  • You must go to a few intake sessions so the program can figure out if you are a good fit for the program.
  • If you get into the program, you must sign an agreement that says:
    • You will finish the program.
    • You will not be violent to your intimate partner. And
    • In some programs, you cannot use drugs or alcohol at all, while you are in the program.
  • You must pay for the program.
    • Not all programs cost the same.
    • All programs have a sliding fee.
    • If you have a low income and can't afford the fee, ask if you can do 4 hours of community service instead.
  • You must go to 80 hours of sessions to complete the program. The sessions are usually 2 hours long and run for 40 weeks. 
  • This is not like a private counseling program. The program has to share things you say and do with the court and some other agencies. The program will also tell the court how many sessions you attend and how you're doing in the program.
  • The program will contact the person you abused, if the person wants to be contacted.
    • The program will try to help them get help for themselves.
    • The program will tell them when you finish the program.
    • The program may also warn them about things you say, like threats or any violent things you say about them.
  • The program will refer you to other services you need, like drug or alcohol programs, employment training, and parenting skills classes.

You do not have to wait for a court to order to go to one of these programs. You can go on your own.

These programs use group counseling sessions to teach you what is wrong with the way you have been acting. The programs try to do 2 things:

  • Help you stop you acting abusive and controlling. And
  • Keep the people you have abused safe.

Read more about Intimate Partner Abuse Education Programs on the Massachusetts' Health and Human Services website.

See a chart that shows the difference between Fatherhood programs and IPAEP.

See a chart that shows the difference between Anger Management programs and IPAEP.

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