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What is a certified batterer's intervention program?

Produced by an AmeriCorps Project of Western Massachusetts Legal Services. Updated and revised by Attorney Jeff Wolf for MassLegalHelp
Last updated February, 2012

What is a certified batterer's intervention program?

 Batterer's intervention programs are counseling programs for people who abuse their partners. 

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

Most certified batterers intervention programs work in the following way:

  • The abusive person has to go to a few intake sessions.
  • The program might not accept him. Not all abusive people are a good fit for these programs.
  • If he gets into the program, he must sign an agreement saying that he will finish the program, that he will not be violent, and that he will not use drugs or alcohol while he is in the program.
  • He will have to pay for the program. Not all programs cost the same. Some programs may have a sliding fee. If he has a low income, he might be able to get help paying for the program.
  • He will probably have to go to 80 hours of sessions. The sessions are usually 2 hours long and run for 40 weeks. Most sessions are in groups, but he may get to talk to a counselor by himself too.
  • This is not like a private counseling program. The program can share things he says and does with the court and some other agencies. The program will also tell the court how many sessions the person attends.
  • If you want, the program will tell you when the abuser finishes the program. The program may also warn you about things he says, such as threats or any violent things he says about you.
  • The program will refer the abusive person to other services he needs, like drug/alcohol programs, employment training, parenting skills classes, etc.

A person does not have to wait for a court to order him to go to one of these programs. He can go on his own.

These programs usually use group counseling sessions to teach the abusive person what is wrong with the way he has been acting. The programs try to do two things:

  • Stop the person from acting abusive and controlling, and
  • Keep the abusive person's victims safe.

Read more about Batterer Intervention programs on the Massachusetts Health and Human Services website.