Options for People Who Use Abusive Behaviors

Domestic violence happens because one person in a relationship believes they have the right to exercise power and control over the other person in that relationship.

That belief is supported by a system of personal and cultural experiences and attitudes. While changing belief systems and ending abusive behaviors is difficult, it is not impossible.

Change is a long-term process. It requires a sincere desire to change on the part of the abusive person, and requires the community to insist upon accountability. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and batterers who claim to have changed their ways in a short period of time should be regarded with suspicion, since such manipulation is often a tactic used by abusers.

Many people think anger management classes will help a batterer stop abusing, but this is not true.  This is one of many myths about abuse that abound in our culture. Domestic violence is not caused by a person being angry and out of control. Similarly, substance abuse treatment or therapy will not address battering behaviors, either. A person who chooses to abuse may also have substance use or mental health disorders that exacerbate their abusive behaviors—indeed, many do—but the battering behaviors are not caused by the substance abuse or mental health issues. While addressing co-occurring issues is one piece of creating a safe future, it is vital that we recognize that the only way to address and change battering behaviors is to deal directly with the belief systems that cause them.

Abusive people who truly wish to change should seek help through a Certified Batterer’s Intervention Program (CBIP). These 48-week programs, licensed through the Maine Department of Corrections, are designed to challenge the belief systems that support abusive behaviors, and to provide needed accountability to actually change behavior.

All CBIPs work closely with their local Domestic Violence Resource Centers to maintain the highest standards for victim safety and offender accountability. To find out about the Certified Batterer’s Intervention Program nearest you, visit the Maine Department of Corrections’ website.