Domestic violence is a serious public health problem in America with far-reaching consequences for women and children. Efforts to stop the violence have taken many forms and include diverse settings such as community shelters, schools, courts, hospitals and clinics, and research institutions.

While treatment outcome research is in its infancy, there is some preliminary evidence that certain kinds of interventions work better for particular batterer types than for others, that some offenders may not be helped by traditional interventions, and that even brief intervention programs are better than no treatment at all. Group treatment is generally preferred to individual or couples' treatment. Those batterers who drop out of treatment, and are therefore hardest to treat, are likely to be young substance abusers with a long history of violence.

Interventions for women generally take the form of shelter programs and group treatment programs. However, few communities offer interventions designed specifically to meet the needs of children exposed to domestic violence. While most battered women eventually do leave their abusive partners, those who have access to social and financial support, and who feel protected in the community and by the police, are more likely to leave.

Current efforts can be seen in communities that take an ecological or multilayered approach to the problem. That is, they offer coordinated responses to domestic violence in terms of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Educational programs aimed at reducing the culture of violence against women and school-based programs that teach nonviolent problem solving and social skills are primary preventions.

Domestic Violence Intervention

Dating violence programs for teenagers and psycho-educational intervention programs for younger children exposed to domestic violence are examples of innovative secondary preventions. It is hoped that in the future communities that take the initiative in preempting and combating violence against women will need fewer treatment programs and police units to respond to domestic violence after it occurs.

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