institutionalized heterosexism may create obstacles to gay men and lesbians seeking assistance. Many of the options generally available for victims of domestic violence might not be seen as viable by victims from these groups, although there is often a significant variation of responses among individuals from the same cultural, racial, or religious group.
Men who are abusive use emotional, psychological, economic, sexual, and physical abuse in order to control their intimate partners. Domestic violence does not result from individual personal or moral deficits, diseases, diminished intellect, addiction, mental illness, poverty, other persons' behaviors, or external events.
Abusers act from a set of attitudes and beliefs about how men and women should relate in intimate relationships. In general, abusers believe that they have a right to enforce their will on their female partners. This belief, rooted in sexism and misogyny, is supported and tolerated by the society in which we live, a society that has historically condoned the use of violence against women.
Abuser accountability is possible only when there is an ability to impose swift, consistent, and meaningful sanctions for the abusive behavior, a role that rests primarily, if not exclusively, within the justice system, through arrest, prosecution and sentences of incarceration, probation, restitution or fine, or some combination of these. Batterers Intervention Programs (BIPs), where they exist, should be used by the courts only in combination with other legal sanctions, as part of a coordinated disposition that also includes incarceration, probation, restitution, or a fine. Further, while BIPs can be a useful element of a community coordinated response, they are not a necessary element of such a response. (See definition of Batterers Intervention Program.)
This policy cautions against the use of Batterers Intervention Programs as a referral for non-mandated clients. Many abusers self-refer to BIPs in order to convince their partners to stay with them or to return if they have already left, a powerful and often effective form of emotional manipulation. As a result, non-mandated abusers