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responsibility for their violent and coercive behavior as the issue emerges in any forum, including individual and group counseling sessions.

Domestic violence is behavior over which abusers have control and should never be justified, excused, or minimized. Abusers, even those with mental health problems, should be held accountable for their battering and abusive behavior. Alcohol/other drug treatment, mental health treatment, or psychiatric care should not be used as a response to an abuser's violent behavior, although such care may be warranted as a response to other issues prior to or in addition to an appropriate criminal or civil justice response. Providers should be aware of the socio-cultural roots of domestic violence and not perceive their treatment of an abuser as a "cure" for his violence. Further, providers should not do anything in providing services to abusers that might compromise a victim's safety.

c.If a court orders an abuser into mental health treatment as a response to the individual's violent and controlling behavior in an intimate relationship, the mental health provider should respectfully refer the case back to the court with a recommendation for the imposition of appropriate criminal or civil justice sanctions.

Perpetration of violence and coercion in an intimate  relationship is not a mental health issue. Mental health providers can best support the goal of abuser accountability by refusing to accept cases in which abusers are court-ordered into mental health treatment as a response to their violent and controlling behavior.

The appropriate response of the courts in dealing with abusers is to impose sentences of incarceration, probation, restitution, or fine, or some combination of these. Where available, mandated participation in a Batterers Intervention Program may be part of such a coordinated sentence. Abusers should neither be referred to nor mandated to dispute mediation, mental health services, or substance abuse treatment as a response to the domestic violence. Providers in all of these systems should be referring the cases back to the court for appropriate adjudication.

d.Mental health providers should maintain thorough and accurate case records.

Information obtained from the client, as well as specific observations, should be carefully and fully entered into the client record. Future or pending legal proceedings might very well draw on the information recorded in client records.

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