You are on page 1of 34
c==te=0 CHAPTER FOUR SOLUTION-FOCUSED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VIEWS Bridges Toward a New Reality in Couples Therapy Eve Lipchik and Anthony D. Kubicki ala his chapter reflects the efforts of Eve Lipchik, a pioneer of solution-focused 3 brief therapy (SFBT), and Tony Kubicki, a coordinator of a batterers pro- gram since 1984, to develop a treatment model for couples experiencing emo- tional and/or physical abuse in their relationship. This evolutionary effort attempts de.) * integrate a SFBT point of view with the arguably irreconcilable perspective of J5 dp the domestic violence field. As such, the chapter presents an integrative model that is a “work in progress” and proposes a bridge that unites the two disparate approaches. Issues of safety, ethics, personal responsibility, power and control, and therapy versus advocacy are addressed and fleshed out in the format of a con- versation between the authors. Since couples treatment faces considerable opposition in the domestic vio- lence field, we hope that our dialogue will make it clear that we are fully aware of, and take very seriously, the arguments against it. However, our combined years of experience have resulted in views that we feel deserve consideration. Historical Context Through her experience in the domestic violence field, Eve Lipchik became in- creasingly aware that most women return to their partners in spite of what they say when they first come to shelters, and regardless of the earnest efforts of those 6s 66 Handbook of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy aS dedicated to helping them leave abusive partners and start a new life. Conse “quently, it made sense that if couples stayed together, they neecled help to elirmi- sw Pate physical and emotional abuse from their relationship as quickly as possible. > Working with couples therefore seemed the most logical option. However, this op~ tion is contrary to the traditional belief among domestic violence advocates that working with abusive couples is both unsafe and unethical. Eve believed that the therapeutic approach she and her colleagues at the Brief Family Therapy Center 1S a : \ were developing climinated these safety and ethical objections. Ese ao In 1992, she sought out Tony Kubicki in hopes of imteresting him inco= Oke. developing an outcome study that would compare men in a traditional batterers _ group with men treated along with their partners with her approach. She quickly discovered that Tony’s batterers groups were also founded on humanistic, 4 competency-based premises. She also found that he was in agreement with her about the need for safe couples treatment. This common ground formed the foun- dation for a bridge between the two views and led to their decision to collaborate. o§ What Is Domestic Violence and How Prevalent Is It? Domestic violence is not confined to any socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, or age group (Hamberger & Hastings, 1986; Hotaling & Sug- arman, 1986; Tolman & Bennett, 1990). We believe it can best be thought of as oc- curring on a continuum from very severe violence (kicking, punching, and stabbing) to less severe violence (pushing, shoving, and slapping). Anywhere from 4 percent (O'Leary et al., 1989; Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1988) of violence falls into the severe category. Ar ted i orado indicates that 11 percent of women who con gency rooms have sustained injuries as a result of domestic violence (Abbott, Johnson, Kazio-McLain, & Lowenstein, 1995) Many people think of domestic violence as no more than physical abuse or threats of physical abuse by one family member against another. The American Medical Association's diagnostic and treatment guidelines on domestic violence (1992, p. 40} define it as “violence characterized as a patterw of coercive behav= iors that may include repeated battering and injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, deprivation, and intimidation. ‘These behav. iors are perpetrated by someone who is or was involved in an intimate relation- ship with the victim.” One can readily see the pool of domestic violence recipients becoming a food Via this definition, and in response, the need for safe and effec tive professional interventions rising exponentially Solution-Focused Domestic Violence Views 6? Existing Treatment Options A review of the relevant literature about treatment options for battering points to ‘OME a major deterrent to better outcomes: the polarization between the prevailing phi- 4J4 losophy, which describes all domestic violence as men using power to control 5) /gLAi). women, and the practical reality that men who batter and women who are ba tered are unique people in unique relationships, therefore making each case ferent. From a clinical point of view, the polarization between those who believe j in mandatory, gender-separate treatment for men (Pence & Paymar, 1990; Walker, a 9 1984; Yllo & Bograd, 1988) and those who are open to treating the relationship Mm as well (Geffner, Mantooth, Franks, & Rao, 1989; Galdner, 1992; Lipchik, 1991; Neidig, Freedman, & Collins, 1985) has been pra: ical specifically, the sociopolitical school asserts that t for men to be seen in groups for “resocialization” and for women to be seen sep- aS arately to be empowered. The other perspective believes that violence is at times relationship specific, and that in these cases, since such a great percentage of cou- ples stay together, it is safer to help the couple improve their relationship. LOWS Overall, mandatory arrest and court-ordered group meetings for men have 5) va become the most commonly accepted modes of civil intervention for batterers _in spite ofan absence of supporting research. As of 1993, relatively little research ““has been completed on batterers groups. A review by Hamberger and Hastings (1993, p. 229) of twenty-eight major studies evaluating treatment outcomes of mostly court-mandated batterers groups from 1984 to 1990 concluded that “it is discouraging that all of the effort and expense of the treatment themselves, as well as the research on them, have yielded so few conclusions, none of them firm, As of this time we cannot confidently say whether treatment works. Actually, we wy should be well beyond that question, asking instead, “what treatment works best on which type of client and under what circumstances?” os The prototype for batterers group is the Duluth, Minnesota, program (Pence OS & Paymar, 1990). The program lasts twenty-six weeks and has been duplicated all > over the world. In an interview (Hoffman, 1992), Pence expressed her disap- - pointment in the results of her hard work. She estimates a 60 percent recidivism We vate and urges women to leave men who batter because no program, even hers, OS can insure that a violent man will change his ways (Hoffman, 1992), Lawrence Sherman, principal investigator of the most definitive U.S. study on arrest of batterers, is equally pessimistic about the overall effect of short- L/\ term arrest for battering (Sherman, 1992). His study, conducted in Minneapolis, shows that a night in jail for batterers cuts the risk of repeat violence against the