How to Find Domestic Violence Classes

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Information in this article may be triggering to some readers. If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

What Are Domestic Violence Classes?

Domestic violence classes are geared toward perpetrators of domestic violence as an intervention used to stop the cycle of abuse. However, domestic violence is an issue that impacts many.

Read on to learn about what domestic violence is, why it occurs, how domestic violence classes can help, and how to find a class.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), is a range of abuse, including economic, physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological violence.

A recent study estimated that at least 5 million adult women experience a form of domestic abuse annually. Make no mistake; women aren’t the only people impacted by domestic violence. For example, 1 in 7 men will experience physical violence from their intimate partner, and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual violence over the course of their lifetime.  

While mainstream conversation often focuses on domestic violence in heterosexual relationships with male perpetrators, the truth is that anyone of any gender identity and sexual orientation can inflict violence in an intimate relationship.

The term perpetrator is used to describe the person inflicting the abuse. The person experiencing the abuse is referred to as a victim or a survivor, depending on their preferred language. 

Why Does Domestic Violence Occur?

Part of ending the cycle of abuse is developing an understanding of why domestic violence occurs.

First, abuse in intimate relationships can take many different forms. Sometimes, multiple forms of violence occur, whereas in other cases, there is one form of abuse. These forms include: physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and financial abuse.

When the abuse is physical, there may be a phase in which the abuser is apologetic and promises never to inflict that type of pain again. Unfortunately, the cycle is likely to continue without any action taken by the abusive partner to halt their behavior.

The CDC lists the following risk factors for intimate partner violence:

  • Uncontrolled anger and hostility (especially toward women)
  • Poor impulse control
  • Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Feeling insecure in their relationship
  • A desire for control over their partner
  • A history of childhood trauma related to domestic violence
  • Poor community sanctions against domestic violence (bystanders don't intervene)

However, it is important to remember that you aren't destined to be abusive or be abused just because you've experienced childhood trauma.

Research shows an increased risk of IPV when someone grows up in an abusive household. However, if you did grow up around domestic violence and you are noticing similar patterns in your adult relationships, it is possible to prevent or stop the cycle—therapy, cycle-breaking strategies, and learning about why this violence happens are ways to end the cycle of abuse.

What Happens in a Domestic Violence Class?

Domestic violence classes are also known as Batterer Intervention Programs (BIP). They are an integral part of the domestic violence system because perpetrators of violence will often be court-mandated to attend these classes after being reported as a way to halt the cycle of violence.

This is done through a mix of education regarding the root of violence, anger management methods, and referrals to further lines of support like therapy, substance abuse interventions, and psychiatric care.

Types of Domestic Violence Classes

The only recognized domestic violence classes are BIPs. However, a process known as restorative justice can be used to address domestic violence issues.

Batterer Intervention Programs (BIP)

The average BIP has 10 participants in a group and offers sessions that are about 90 minutes long for around 32 weeks.

Participants are often court-mandated, though some will opt to take a class on their own to halt the cycle of violence occurring in their lives. The classes are based on a uniform curriculum, meaning each session has been pre-planned and isn't customized to the participants.

While BIPs are considered the only official domestic violence class, a recent study has emerged showing some efficacy of incorporating restorative justice practices into the BIP curriculum.

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is an approach where dialogue between the offender and the victim is facilitated by trained support staff. It is key to recognize that this study is an exception to the rule that victims and perpetrators are not to be put in any ongoing therapeutic group together. This study shows much promise for the future of incorporating restorative justice into BIPs. Future arrests and the severity of any resulting violent infractions committed by participants were reduced by over 50%.

It is important to recognize that anger management programs are not domestic violence classes. Anger management methods are utilized in domestic violence classes, however, the classes will also address the root issues of the individual's violent behavior. Anger management classes are not a substitute for domestic violence classes.

For Victims of Domestic Violence

It is worth noting that domestic violence groups are available for survivors of intimate partner violence. These are not the same as domestic violence classes. Instead, these groups are focused on the cycle of violence and processing the resulting trauma. Perpetrators and survivors are never put in a therapeutic processing space together—not even in couples therapy. This is due to the risk of violence reoccurring between partners during the therapy process. 

Who Should Seek Domestic Violence Classes?

Those struggling to control their anger in their relationship, resulting in emotional or physical violence, should seek domestic violence classes immediately. Do not wait for the circumstances to escalate—the quicker one finds help, the faster the cycle of violence can end. 

Domestic Violence Classes Are Usually Court-Mandated

Attendees of domestic violence classes often don’t have a choice when it comes to attending. These classes are part of court mandates for intimate partner violence cases that result in legal action.

Currently, domestic violence classes serve as one of the primary interventions in intimate partner violence.

How to Find Domestic Violence Classes

The best way to seek domestic violence classes is to contact the Domestic Violence Hotline. They can direct you to local resources and classes.

Your Safety Is Always a Priority

While some survivors of domestic violence may find themselves tempted to stay with their abusive partner while they seek services, it is important to remember that halting the cycle of violence can be a long process, and safety comes first.

Furthermore, change can only occur if the perpetrator wants to change. Therefore, finding domestic violence classes for them isn’t only ineffective, but it can also threaten your safety. 

Emotional and financial challenges make it difficult for a person to leave an abusive partner. It's estimated that a woman will leave her abusive partner seven times before leaving permanently.

However, it's important to remember that it is extremely dangerous to stay in a physically abusive relationship. There are many negative health effects linked with physical violence including chronic pain, digestive problems, heart problems, trouble sleeping, eating disorders, brain injury, and mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If you are in an abusive relationship, it is vital that you also reach out to the Domestic Violence Hotline. They can help you find resources like therapy, support groups, and a safe shelter. Alternatively, you can use their local resources search function to see what is available near you.

A Word From Verywell

Stopping the cycle of violence requires a multilevel intervention that includes domestic violence classes, trauma therapy, and substance abuse treatment if needed.

Accountability is extremely important—it is never the victim's fault that they have been abused. The victim must be given resources and space to heal, and they are not responsible for helping their abuser in any way.

If you are a victim, know that there is help and resources that are available to you. Healing is possible and you deserve to feel safe, loved, heard, and cared for. If you're looking for mental health support, a licensed therapist will be able to assist you in your healing process.

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9 Sources
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