Intimate partner violence (IPV) is defined as physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and/or psychological aggression carried out by an individual’s current or former intimate partner. IPV is prevalent in society and has lasting adverse consequences for survivors and their children, including poor physical health, psychological distress, and social consequences like isolation from social networks. Given the well established, potentially devastating consequences of IPV for the entire family, there is a critical need for researchers, practitioners, and decision makers to better understand the services that exist to help prevent IPV and address it effectively when it occurs.

IPV services reach a relatively small proportion of men, women, and families affected by IPV. Men in particular can be difficult to reach. Services like battering intervention programs (BIPs) can be prohibitively expensive, even though a majority of referrals to BIPs are made through court-ordered mandates or via child protective services requirements. Therefore, not all users of violence can access BIPs even when mandated or required. Further, the stigma and shame attached to being a male survivor of IPV or to receiving either survivor services or services for users of violence can limit disclosures of violence. Federal Responsible Fatherhood (RF) programs serve men who may be at an increased risk for using or being survivors of IPV. Fathers served through these programs may be motivated to seek out IPV services mostly by their desire to become better fathers. Thus, RF programs are in a unique position to address IPV among fathers, and especially to help prevent it from occurring in the first place.

This report summarizes findings from the Preventing and Addressing Intimate Violence when Engaging Dads (PAIVED) research study funded by the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) and overseen by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE). Child Trends and their partners, Boston Medical Center and Futures Without Violence, conducted the study, which examines how RF programs aim to prevent and address IPV through their fatherhood programming. Specifically, this report presents information about the approaches that RF programs take to provide IPV-related services. It also discusses challenges and successes to providing these services, promising practices, and areas for growth.

The interviewees for this study preferred (and overwhelmingly used) the term “domestic violence” (DV), rather than “intimate partner violence.” As a result, this report uses IPV and DV interchangeably. To ensure consistent use of terminology, we use IPV throughout the overview, background, and methodology sections. When we transition to the study findings, we use DV to accurately reflect the language choices of interviewees.