Webinar presenters Jeri Greer and Danielle Thompson answered a number of your questions after their presentation, A Proactive Response to Domestic Violence: Collaboration in Facility and Parole-Based Batterer Intervention Programming. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: Do you have any suggestions on how we might start a BIP program in our facility, and how do we go about getting it certified?
Danielle Thompson: Oh, that’s a great question. So, to answer the certification questions, so that would be based on the state that you’re in if they have a certification process. So here in the state of Kansas, it is through the Attorney General’s Office. In order to get certified, we have to go through an application process with the Attorney General’s Office, and our program has to meet those minimum standards in order to be certified. And so, if you’re wanting to start a facility-based BIP program in your area, the first step would be identifying the stakeholders that you will need in order to get this up and going. I know before they hired me to start the facility-based program, they had gotten support from the warden at the prison where I am located. As well as, you know, getting support from the Kansas Prisoner Review board. It also helps that we already had a BIP program at the parole offices. And so, the facility-based BIP Program was actually started, because the parolees were experiencing a lot of barriers to completing BIP, which is why we started that facility-based BIP Program, to reduce some of those barriers. So, getting the support of the higher-ups, if you will, in the facility to start the program, would be your first step, I would say.
Audience Question: What is the source of funding for your BIP Program?
Danielle Thompson: All of our full-time staff are funded through our state budget. We are a state agency. So, our full-time staff is funded through the state budget for KDOC and then we also have part-time staff who work for us. And our part-time staff are funded through a grant that’s called JAG.
Audience Question: Is this for State Department of Corrections prisoners only, or do you provide these services for county jails as well?
Danielle Thompson: This is specifically for the state prisons, so we do not offer this in the state’s jails. There may be, like community-based BIP programs, who could offer this in the county jails. But the prison that we do it specifically, is a state prison.
Audience Question: In your experience, which types are the most prevalent abusers, and which are the least press prevalent?
Danielle Thompson: That’s a great question, too. Um, Jeri. I’ll answer it from my perspective of working with the offenders. And if you maybe want to answer it based on your perspective, working with victims, um, the men that I’ve worked with in my facility groups, as well as the parole groups, I would say a majority of them have either entitlement-based motivation or survival-based motivation. I think entitlement probably is more common than survival. But again, someone can have multiple motivations. And so often times, you know, we work with guys who have several different motivations, but I would say that. The two most common are survival, and entitlement being more than survival. Sadistic based motivation, that is not as common for several reasons. You know, one of the characteristics of someone who has sadistic based is, you know, they’re really great at hiding the abuse and violence if they’re using and they get pleasure out of fooling people. So, it makes a lot of sense that, you know, we don’t know that we’re working with a lot of sadistic based motivations, because they’re really great at hiding it. Also, oftentimes, when we’re presenting the sadistic based information in our groups, the reactions from the guys and groups oftentimes are, Oh, that’s not me, that’s crazy. And so, there’s a lot of shame with the stigma of being characterized as sadistic based, which could cause an offender to not want to say that their sadistic base. So, even though we may not know that we’re working with a lot of sadistic based guys, they are certainly there. We may just not know it.
Jeri’ Greer: Yeah, as far as victims and when we screen for types of abuse, I would say entitlement and survival-based as well. There are a lot of abusive behaviors that are centered around financial coercion. Just having that sense of entitlement that the victim is disposable, but also on the flip side of that, there is a long-lasting relationship where abuse or DV is the Dynamic and so the survival-based motive we see as well from the victim experience.
Audience Question: A couple of additional questions about the motivation, and then we’ll move on to other areas. Do you find that some offenders have more than one motivation for their abuse? In other words, can they both be survival and entitlement based?
Danielle Thompson: Yes, I would say that is very common for, and I think you can also, you know, differ based on the relationship that they are in. And so maybe with a past partner, they were more entitlement based, but with current partner, they are very survival based. So, I think it could depend on their relationship. But I would say it’s very common for them to have multiple motives.
Audience Question: What about women? Do they have the same kind of motives? Have you looked at the motives behind women who are abusive?
Danielle Thompson: You know, that’s a great question. You know Dorothy Stucky Halley was the one that did this research. And I believe she did this research only on men. So, I can’t say that I can fully answer that question because I’m not sure if that research also was based on women. So, I would say that question would be better asked towards Dorothy Stucky Halley if she includes women in her research. But I don’t think she did, but she would be able to better answer that question. And in our groups, we serve primarily men. In our groups, we will provide assessment services for women who are referred to us. But we don’t have enough women who are required to take BIP in order to do a female group. So, if they’re found appropriate for BIP, we refer them out to community-based BIP providers who can provide those group services to them, but we will do their assessment for them.
Audience Question: Danielle, when you went away when you went around the room. you asked the men to give their word a positive one. What was that? What was that word called? Or can you talk a little bit about that?
Danielle Thompson: Sure, yeah, so that is called the Golden Shadow Message. And that is part of the FPI curriculum. In this activity, specifically in the river of cruelty, you know, when we experienced cruelty and trauma in our childhood and those experiences, we are given a message about ourselves from the people who are cruel towards us. So, for example, if my dad was physically abusive to me during that abuse, I may have gotten a message that I wasn’t important, that I didn’t matter to him, or that I was weak. And so that’s what we call a shadow message. And when working with them in our groups, you know, to really combat that shadow message, we have them think about if it’s not true that you’re weak, or that you’re not important, or they don’t matter. What could be true about you, that’s what we call the Golden Shadow message. And so those messages often are: I’m a good person. I am strong, I matter, I’m important, I’m worthy. And if we are to operate our lives from the Golden Shadow message, how would our behaviors look differently in our relationships? That if we believe that we matter and that we’re important, that we are worthy, we are more likely to treat our partners like they matter, and that they are important, and that you know, they are worthy as well.
Audience Question: What curriculum provider do you use for BIP?
Danielle Thompson: So, our curriculum is through the Family Peace Initiative, which is an agency that’s based out of Topeka, Kansas, and Dorothy Stucky Halley who did the research for the Motivations for those who batter is also involved with the Family Peace initiative, so if you would like more information about her research or the curriculum, I would recommend that you go to their website, which is www.familypeaceinitiative.com.
Audience Question: Do you have any juvenile specific resources that you can recommend?
Danielle Thompson: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, actually, the Family Peace Initiative is providing groups that are similar to BIP, with juveniles at a county jail. So, we don’t provide juvenile services here in Kansas Department of Corrections, but the Family Peace Initiative does. So, I would recommend that that person contact the Family Peace Initiative to get more information about juvenile services.
Audience Question: How does Kansas DOC deal with the mental health aspect of the batterers?
Danielle Thompson: So, when thinking about addressing their domestic violence risk, we do know that mental health, as well as substance abuse, that kind of thing, can escalate violence. It’s not the cause of the violence but it certainly escalates it and increases the safety risk for the victims and partners. And so, we have an offender who, you know, has a BIP special condition, but they also have mental health concerns. We will provide those BIP services to them, in conjunction with them also participating in mental health services through the community-based mental health center. You know, whether that’s medication management, or case management services, going to therapy, that kind of thing. So, the services are provided separately to address both of those risk areas. We have had some offenders whose mental health was pretty severe and interfered with their ability to successfully complete and participate in BIP. And so, we have recommended for offenders to get more stable when it comes to their mental health needs first, before we’ll enter them into BIP because the work we’re asking them to do is pretty tough. So, making sure that they’re stable first before they come into the group is really important.
Audience Question: How do you find that batterers respond to women running the BIP groups?
Danielle Thompson: That’s a great question. You guys are full of good questions. So, you know, I think I think it varies based on each group member. So, I know for me, all the groups that I run are with myself and a female co-facilitator. And, so, certainly, there is some resistance at times, us being women teaching this group, but I think there’s also great benefit in us being able to share our perspective as women. And so, I think there are challenges, but there is a benefit as well, being able to share the perspective of a woman. Some of our groups are facilitated by a male and a female facilitator. Those groups have a male and female facilitator duo. And it’s really cool to watch them, you know, demonstrate and model healthy interactions between men and women. Our male facilitator, you know, there are some things that he can do and say that work really well and go over really well with the guys, that me as a female. If I were trying to do or say that, it wouldn’t go over so well. So, we’re really lucky that we have a male facilitator that can do some of that stuff that would be more challenging for us, women to do as a facilitator.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of A Proactive Response to Domestic Violence: Collaboration in Facility and Parole-Based Batterer Intervention Programming.