The Building Healthy Relationships class and intervention with domestic violence

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We are fairly often asked about whether the Building Healthy Relationships class is appropriate as an intervention for persons who are involved in domestic or family violence in some way. This is a more complex question than first appears. The simple answer is yes, but...

For more than a dozen years, the Center hosted the Abuse Prevention Program.  This program was among the founding programs of ABIP - the Association of Batterer Intervention Providers. The Abuse Prevention Program was discontinued in 2008. The material in the Building Healthy Relationships class is very similar to the content of the Abuse Prevention Program and addresses several sets of issues pertinent to interpersonal violence and abuse including;

  • clarity about what is abuse, violence, and oppression,
  • what does a healthy relationship with anger look like,
  • how we can make a keep durable agreements, and
  • how we can repair relationships when we have damaged them.

The "but" is that there are some features a program must have if it is to address the needs of the community when working with criminal offenders. The Building Healthy Relationships program does not have these features and is not prepared to coordinate with a probation officer the way programs that are members of ABIP must.

From time to time a worker with the Children's Division will contact us to see about enrolling one of their clients into the class. This has worked well and it has worked poorly. The principal issue is the degree to which the client is self-motivated to learn from the class. We do not have the tools to impose motivation onto the client, but when the client is very interested in improving the quality of his or her intimate relationships we can be very effective.

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