Domestic Violence Referral Guide for Fatherhood Programs

Research BriefFamiliesJun 11 2020

This brief provides information to help fatherhood practitioners better understand what referrals are appropriate for participants who have used or survived domestic violence (DV). It provides background information to help distinguish between the key features of DV agencies, battering intervention programs (BIPs), and anger management programs. The brief also provides information on which type of referral is appropriate in different circumstances, additional considerations for referrals, and future directions for the field.

This brief was created through the Preventing and Addressing Intimate Violence when Engaging Dads (PAIVED) study. PAIVED was funded by the Office of Family Assistance and overseen by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation. Child Trends and their partners, Boston Medical Center and Futures Without Violence, conducted the study.

Key Findings

If fatherhood programs determine or suspect that DV is occurring in their participants’ relationships, the most appropriate referral will depend on whether they assess that the participant is using violence against their partner, surviving violence from their partner, or both. Broadly, it is important for fatherhood programs to partner with a local DV agency and consult the DV agency whenever they are unsure of what to do. However, general guidelines on referrals include:

  • If a fatherhood program believes that their participant is using DV, then they should refer to a local BIP, if available. If no BIP is available, fatherhood programs should refer to a therapist who specializes in DV or consult with a local DV agency or state DV coalition on how to proceed.
  • If a fatherhood program believes that their participant is surviving DV, then they should refer to a local DV agency;
  • If a fatherhood program believes DV is occurring but is unsure whether their participant is using or surviving violence (or both), then the fatherhood program should consult with a local DV agency or refer directly to a local DV agency for further assessment.
  • If a fatherhood program finds that their participant struggles with controlling their anger outside of their relationships (e.g., at work, in class, when driving, when interacting with friends or strangers), then they may want to refer to an anger management program or therapist.

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