On February 3rd, 2021, the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) appeared before the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety to present our report, “Initial Findings on the Effectiveness of Maine’s Certified Batterer Intervention Programs.” After an introduction from partners at the Department of Corrections, MCEDV’s Violence Prevention & Intervention Coordinator Karen Wyman spoke and responded to questions for over an hour, describing work of the two years since the Maine Legislature provided the first ever funding for statewide coordination of Maine’s network of Certified Batterer Intervention Programs (CBIPs).
This is the next step in more than five years of work by MCEDV and partners to examine and enhance the impact of these 48-week programs, which are designed to address the core beliefs that drive the actions of people who use violence against their partners. CBIPs are nationally recognized as the most effective community-based intervention to reduce abusive behavior, but the programs are chronically under-resourced, and misunderstandings about their purpose and impact persist.
The funding approved in 2018 allowed MCEDV to hire a staff person to coordinate CBIPs across the state, bring national trainers to Maine to support facilitators, provide technical assistance for CBIPs, and administer the funds approved for partial fee reimbursement for program participants facing financial hardship. (Importantly, previous work done by the Maine Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse found that when the program fee is a barrier for the participant, the cost ended up having a negative impact on survivors and their children.)
Accomplishments highlighted by Wyman included:
- The annual provision of both basic and advanced trainings for facilitators of both men’s and women’s programs;
- The implementation and administration of the partial fee reimbursement program for participants for whom cost was a barrier;
- Regular convenings of both CBIP facilitators and the monitors who observe the programs;
- Concentrated technical assistance, particularly around safe program delivery during COVID-19; and
- The development and implementation of a survey re: the impact of CBIP participation on the partners of program participants.
Wyman shared what we have learned about CBIP effectiveness over the past two years: that the programs are most effective when they are part of a strong coordinated community response and when participants complete the full 48 weeks. When those things happen, survey results indicate that safety for survivors in Maine was improved. When they do not happen, survivors reported no increase in safety and sometimes reported an increase in danger. These findings are consistent with national research.
The report also includes recommendations for what needs to happen next in order to maximize the potential for these programs as part of Maine’s coordinated community response to domestic abuse, and to address identified systemic barriers, particularly around issues of equity and access for all Mainers of all backgrounds and identities. LD 1307, AAT Ensure Access to and Availability of Violence Intervention Services to Reduce Domestic Violence in Maine, sponsored by Sen. Deschambault and LD 1270, AAT Implement the Recommendations of the Department of Corrections for Certified Batterer Intervention Programing, sponsored by Rep. Warren, are bills before this legislature that seek to move forward key recommendations from the report.