In Florida, an individual who pleads to a Domestic Violence charge must enroll in and complete a Batterer´s Intervention Program (BIP) as a condition of probation.
Domestic violence is defined as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”
The Batterer´s Intervention Program looks to address the root causes of domestic violence and prevent participants from committing any domestic violence acts in the future. The program consists of an initial assessment, followed by orientation, and a minimum of 29 weeks of group counseling sessions.
The assessment is a psychosocial evaluation that will determine if the participant will benefit from mental health or substance abuse treatment programs before or concurrent with batterer intervention.
Afterward, the participant needs to sign a contract, admit responsibility for their actions, and follow the procedures and rules outlined by the program’s administrators. If the individual violates these rules and procedures, it may lead to their expulsion from the program, which will cause the participant to violate probation, have a warrant issued for their arrest, and face the possibility of jail time.
When the initial assessment is completed, the participant attends an orientation, followed by 29 weeks of group counseling sessions.
Requirements for BIPs.
The Department of Children and Families requires that the BIP incorporates the following elements:
- The purpose of the program must be victim safety and the safety of children, if present.
- The batterer or participant should be held accountable for acts of domestic violence.
- The program content shall be based on a cognitive behavioral therapy model or psychoeducational model that addresses tactics of power and control by one person over another.
- The program shall be funded by user fees paid by the batterers who attend the program.