How Do I Sign Up For Domestic Violence Classes?
By Sarah Fader
Updated August 13, 2019
Reviewer Kelly L. Burns, MA, LPC, ATR-P
If you or someone you know has been directed to complete domestic violence training by a court or as part of some other such requirement, you may be asking yourself "where are domestic violence classes near me?" You may have no idea where to even begin when it comes to enrolling in domestic violence programs. And is this just a silly requirement that carries no real meaning, or can domestic violence classes be genuinely helpful?
Do Domestic Violence Classes Help?
For a domestic violence class to do more for a person than simply satisfy a court-ordered requirement, the person has to want to change his or her behavior. If the desire is not there, then no domestic violence class, no matter how well constructed, is going to do anything for that person. But if he or she has a real desire to change, then yes, domestic violence classes can help them understand what it is they are doing wrong and the steps they can take to change this destructive behavior.
It, therefore, stands to reason that if someone is entering a domestic violence program on his or her own accord, then there is a greater chance that he or she honestly wants to change their behavior and will learn from the program and adhere to its teachings. It is important to note that domestic violence classes may be different, depending on the state you live in. They may not necessarily be called "domestic violence classes," but may instead be categorized as anger management courses, or something similar.
What You Learn In A Domestic Violence Class
Over the course of a domestic violence intervention program, you will learn what specifically constitutes domestic violence, as well as the different kinds of domestic violence that are out there. You will learn why victims tend to stay in abusive relationships, as well as why abusers do what they do. You will also learn about the kinds of victims who suffer domestic violence, as well as why domestic violence exists in the first place, and how such behaviors can and should be changed.
Typically, these courses are approved by the courts to meet certain requirements. If you are considering a program that does not explicitly mention that it has received court approval, and if you need a program that is approved by the court, do your research to ensure that you won't be wasting your time. The last thing you want to do is pay for a course and present a certificate of completion that means nothing to the court that directed you to enroll in the course.
Interestingly, one of the most common assumptions is that a domestic violence program tackles the issue of anger management. However this is perhaps one of the worst things a legitimate domestic violence program can explore. This is because an anger management course typically focuses on those "triggers" that cause someone's temper to flare. This inadvertently places the blame on the victim for instigating the abuser and absolves the abuser of responsibility.
Of course, anger management is a useful tool in helping people curb their outbursts in personal and professional settings, but it is not conducive to eradicating domestic violence. Domestic violence is less about anger and more about control. For this reason, it is infinitely more helpful to look into programs known as "batterer intervention and prevention programs," though you will have to research whether they are available in your area. These programs are better suited to helping those who are perpetrating or coping with domestic violence.
Batterer Intervention & Prevention Programs (BIPP)
Batterer Intervention and Prevention Programs (BIPPs) are different from other kinds of domestic violence programs in that instead of focusing on how to control an abuser's "triggers," instead the focus lies on holding the abuser accountable and educating victims on how to stay safe in an abusive situation. These classes are infinitely more helpful than a straight-up anger management class.
Topics covered in a BIPP can include:
- Addressing conflict in a non-violent manner
- Learning how to respect, support and trust each other
- Being honest with each other and holding an abuser accountable for his or her actions
- Negotiation and fairness
The key difference between a BIPP and an anger management program is that a BIPP addresses an abuser's history of abusive behavior and teaches him or her accountability. The problem with abusive behavior is that it is a pattern that has developed over time. Even though anger may be a part of that behavior, it is more about dominating another person. A BIPP teaches an abuser to reflect on his or her actions and use critical thinking, rather than flying off the handle on an impulse.
Paying For A Domestic Violence Intervention Program
Some classes start off as a free sample of sorts in that they give you a preview of what to expect. Then, if you like what you see, you can sign up for the remainder of the course for a fee.
In addition to learning how to improve your life, you will also receive a certification showing that you did, in fact, complete the course, which can then be offered up as proof to your probation officer or employer. Keep in mind, though, that there is usually an additional fee for the certificate as well, which varies depending on the provider.
Signing Up For Domestic Violence Intervention Program Online
Depending on the type of domestic violence intervention you may be looking into, you may notice that some of them require payment up front for a series of classes. "But where are the free domestic violence classes near me?" you may be asking.
Today, everything is online, so if you are stressing out about not being able to attend domestic violence classes in person, you may be able to sign up for a court-approved regimen online. Then, you don't have to worry about whether there are classes available near you, as you won't have to attend them in person. Some courses even have live video conferences so that you can attend in real time without having to be present in the building physically.
Another bonus to taking online classes is that the cost of the program is usually lower because offering the class online saves the provider money by not having to upkeep a classroom with physical books, desks, and chairs.
Changing Domestic Violence For The Long Term
Domestic violence classes have their critics. A couple of years back, NBC News published an article citing researchers who flat-out said that domestic violence classes "don't work" in light of the news stories that came about that year about abusive players in the NFL. One expert, in particular, sociologist Michael Kimmel of Stony Brook University, told NBC that there is very little evidence to show that these programs are even partially successful.
Some researchers, however, remain vigilant that such treatment can work. For instance, back in the '90s, Edward Gondolf, a professor at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, conducted a study on hundreds of abusers who entered counseling for a period of between four months to one year, depending on their course of counseling. Four years later, Gondolf declared the counseling to be a success, as only 10 percent of those who had entered counseling four years before had recurrent abusive behavior.
The same year NBC published its article, Jessica Johnson attended a domestic violence class as someone who had survived an abusive relationship, and she wrote about it for the Feminist.org blog. Johnson noted that as the class wrapped up, the instructor reminded everyone that while they now possessed the tools to enact some serious change, it takes time to establish a new pattern of behavior. The problem, as Johnson points out, is that this is not entirely helpful for the short term, as the person being abused still has to kind of hang in there while waiting to see if the training takes hold.
That is not entirely comforting, and this traces back to the argument that you have to want to change for something to work truly. Someone can give you the best toolset on the planet, but if you don't want to build anything, those tools are going to collect dust in the garage. These classes are what you make of them. If you're taking them to simply fulfill a court requirement so you can move on with your life, then that is all they will be. But if you have a genuine desire to change for the people in your life that you love, then you will take the advice and run with it - and sooner, rather than later.
Are you a victim of domestic violence? Or are you struggling with getting your violent behavior under control? You may want to consider speaking to a professional who can guide you on what your next steps should be.