Programming Responses for Intimate Partner Violence

SASKATCHEWAN

Context

Provincial Legislation: Victims of Interpersonal Violence Act

Provincial Action Plan: The government has not issued a domestic violence action plan.

Domestic Violence Courts: There are three domestic violence courts currently operating in the Province of Saskatchewan: the Battlefords Domestic Violence Treatment Options (BDVTO) Court, the Saskatoon Domestic Violence (SDV) Court and the Regina Domestic Violence (RDV) Court. These therapeutic courts emphasize healing and provide an alternative to traditional court processes. Each court has a domestic violence court coordinator along with specialized judges, Crown prosecutors, Legal Aid lawyers, and probation and victim services workers.

Although there are differences among the courts depending on the resources and needs of the community, they all offer a treatment option with sentencing delayed until after the offender attends programming. They also have similar objectives:

  • consistent justice response to crimes involving domestic violence;
  • improved victim safety and support;
  • timeliness of court process;
  • offender accountability;
  • cultural responsiveness;
  • consistent monitoring and evaluation framework; and
  • increased awareness of domestic violence across sectors.

Although different court models have been implemented, all three courts provide intensive support for victims and their families. In addition to its treatment option, the SDV Court has a broader approach that deals with matters set for sentencing and also with domestic matters set for trial or preliminary hearing. It is both a sentencing and case management court for domestic violence matters.

Offenders in all courts who are deemed eligible for the treatment option (based on several factors including criminal history and severity of the offence) and who take responsibility for their offence and enter a guilty plea are screened for suitability for domestic violence programming. Suitability factors assessed include risk, addictions, treatment readiness and ability to attend and participate in group programming. Suitability is partially determined using the Saskatchewan Primary Risk Assessment (SPRA) and the Ontario Domestic Abuse Risk Assessment (ODARA) tools.

Each court continues to use the collaborative model identified during the development of the courts to oversee court policy and procedures and provide front-line services. Representatives from the judiciary; Community Corrections and Innovation and Strategic Initiatives in the Ministry of Justice; police services; the health region; police-based victim services programs and community-based organizations that provide related services. Depending on the court, representatives from other sectors may also participate (e.g., Aboriginal Courtworkers, Child Protection).

Offenders who choose to participate in the treatment option programming appear in court for progress reports regularly. The interaction between the judge and the offender is very important to the success of the program. Each court has a process in place for front line workers to come together as case managers to discuss offender progress and make decisions about future direction for the individual. As well, courts have an established process for reviewing requests to change non-contact conditions that are placed on the offender at the time of release from police custody.

Recidivism studies completed in two domestic violence courts have shown that offenders completing treatment programs recidivated less often and had fewer police call-outs than other groups of offenders. In addition, these studies showed that offenders referred to treatment programs through the domestic violence courts completed treatment more often than those referred otherwise (i.e., post-sentence and self-referrals). As well, standardized instruments are used by treatment programs to measure attitude and behavior changes in participants. They show significant changes in offenders attending through the treatment option.

The Innovation and Strategic Initiatives Branch of the Ministry of Justice produced a video about the Treatment Option available through the three domestic violence courts (DVC). Through interviews with treatment graduates, victims/survivors, the Judiciary, Crown Prosecutors, Legal Aid and private legal counsel, DVC Coordinators, domestic violence and addictions treatment providers, victim services, child protection services, children’s program providers, probation services, and RCMP and municipal police, the video documents the journey of accused and who choose the Treatment Option and the perceptions of the victims.

Interministerial Committee: In addition to the DVC/DVTO committees, the Inter-ministerial Committee on Interpersonal Violence and Abuse consisting of Justice - Attorney General, Status of Women, Justice - Corrections and Policing, Health, Government Relations, Education and Social Services coordinates government services and liaises with community coordination. Provincial committees such as Saskatchewan Towards Offering Partnership Solutions to Violence (STOPS to Violence), the Provincial Association of Transition Houses (PATHS) and the Saskatchewan Association of Sexual Assault Centres (SASS) contribute to these efforts.

Community Mobilization Model: In 2011 the Community Mobilization Prince Albert (CMPA) was developed to address high-risk community issues. CMPA is composed of police, corrections, social workers, education, addictions and mental health service providers. While not specifically a domestic violence initiative, the multidisciplinary team meets twice weekly to identify, develop and deploy interventions for acutely elevated risk including risk associated with IPV. Elevated risk is defined as situations where there is significant interest at stake, high probability of harm occurring, severe intensity of potential harm and the situation requires multi-sector solutions. The team has established a filter process that ensures that priorities are maintained and privacy is protected. This process has multiple options for example, agencies can provide de-identified information on the client’s risk factors, or basic identifiable information can be shared to identify agencies that should be involved in the planning. CMPA employs one full time worker who coordinates the team’s activities. This model has been extended to other locations in Saskatchewan.

Risk Assessment

Police do not use a standardized risk assessment tool in Saskatchewan. As stated above, the Saskatchewan Primary Risk Assessment (SPRA) and Ontario Domestic Abuse Risk Assessment (ODARA) tools are used by Community Corrections to inform case management strategies for each offender when they request participation in the domestic violence treatment option. Domestic violence victim service workers attached to the court use the ODARA and consideration of lethality factors as part of the assessment process when a change to the non-contact condition is requested.

Men’s Narrative Program to Foster Respectful Relationships
Family Service Saskatoon

Funding

This program is funded through fees paid for by the program participants.

Structure

Participants are referred to the program by the Saskatoon DVC. The program also accepts accused not eligible for the DVC stream who self-refer.

Program

Participants are required to attend 2 pre-group sessions with the program coordinator and co-facilitator. Information regarding the offender’s participation, level of engagement and completion of written assignments is shared with the referring agency.

Developed from a Narrative Therapeutic modality (adapted from the Bridges program), the program is 5-six hour sessions that take place on alternating Saturdays over a 9-week period (30 hours of group). Men are guided in an examination of their values, successes and challenges with a view to developing and implementing a relapse prevention plan. Topics included are studying abuse (feelings, thoughts and triggers; effects of the abuse on victims, children and themselves), perspective-taking exercises, listening and communication skills development.

Program staff uses unstructured clinical judgment to monitor offender risk. After the 4th session, victims are contacted to discuss safety planning and links to other community agencies for ongoing assistance where indicated.

Integration

Family Service Saskatoon is involved in the DVC working group and are members of STOPS to Violence.

Domestic Violence Education
Community Corrections - Custody, Supervision, and Rehabilitation Services

Funding

This program is currently unfunded.

Structure

The majority of clients are moderate to high-risk offenders referred through Mental Health and Addiction Services, Family Services and probation. Information is shared with the referral source with the consent of the client.

Program

The program consists of 12, 2-hour sessions. It is an educational program with some basic skills training components. Program staff uses ODARA to assess and monitor client risk. Topics covered in the program include defining abuse, communication skills, time-outs, guilt, shame, stress management, beliefs, self-talk, relapse prevention and substance use.

Impact on child witnesses

No parenting program is available

Accountability to Victims

The program does not have any partner contact.

Alternatives to Violence
Five Hills Health Region (Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan)

Funding

The Alternatives to Violence program is funded by the Department of Corrections and Public Safety and Mental Health and Addictions Services (MHAS). MHAS has recently contracted with Moose Jaw Transition House to provide services for voluntary clients.

Structure

Mandated clients are referred from Probation through the DVT or attend as condition of probation. Voluntary clients can also request service. Formal risk assessment is done by the DVTO Coordinator or the Bail Supervision Officer using ODARA and SARA. Probation co-facilitates the groups at Five Hills Health Region.

Program

The group is closed and runs for 12 weeks, 2 hours per week. The program was created utilizing a variety of therapeutic approaches including CBT, Narrative, psychoeducational and solution-focused therapy. Topics covered include anger management, types of abuse, cycle of violence, ABC’s of thinking (CBT) values in relationships, healthy relationships, assertive communication, impact of violence on children healthy parenting, jealousy, development of a feelings language, self-talk/beliefs. Two guest speakers are included in the program, one man who has successfully completed the program, and a woman whose stepfather murdered her mother.

Impact on child witnesses

Parenting and children exposed to violence programs are offered by Moose Jaw Transition House. Information regarding the impact on children exposed to IPV is incorporated into the treatment group.

Accountability to Victims

The offender’s probation officer contacts victims. There is no victim contact for voluntary clients.

Integration

There is no Domestic Violence Court in Moose Jaw, however collaboration happens informally amongst community-based service providers, police and corrections.

Alternatives to Violence

  • Regional Health Authorities are funded by the Ministry of Health and are responsible for the day to day delivery of mental health and addiction services.
  • Alternatives to Violence Treatment is shared between mental health and addictions and probation services in Regina, Saskatoon and North Battleford where Domestic Violence Courts exist.
  • Delivery of Alternatives to Violence Programs also exist in other health regions but are not a core mental health service in some health regions and other health regions provide services on an individual basis.

Battleford Mental Health Centre

Funding

Alternatives to Violence program is funded by the Ministry of Health.

Structure

Participants may be referred through the Battleford Domestic Violence Treatment Options (BDVTO) Court. In addition, men who have been convicted of a domestic violence related offence and sentenced with the condition to attend an IPV program, may be referred through Community Corrections. The program also accepts voluntary participants.

Program

The program utilizes cognitive-behaviour, client-centered and psychoeducational modalities. The group is 16 weeks in duration, with 2-hour sessions once per week. The program consists of 3 segments. For the first 8 weeks the group focus is on anger management. Using a thoughts, feelings, and actions model, participants create an anger management plan that includes what they can do to change. The participants use the abusive event that resulted in them being in the program as a frame of reference for this work, discussing thoughts, feelings and circumstances surrounding the event and alternate outcomes had the circumstances been different. The second segment focuses on healthy relationships. Participants identify components of healthy romantic relationships. The third segment deals with affect regulation. Participants are taught strategies to manage difficult emotions, self-care, and goal setting.

Impact of child witnessing

Parenting and children’s programming is offered by Catholic Family Services. Information regarding the impact of witnessing IPV on children is incorporated into the treatment group.

Integration

The program is delivered within the DVTO, collaborative framework. Information is shared by all services involved with the offender every 2 weeks during the DVTO meetings regarding the participant’s progress.

Accountability to Victims

The program does not have contact with victims; rather, this contact is the responsibility of Victim Services attached to the DVTO.

Kanaweyimik Family Violence Treatment Program
Battleford, SK

Funding

Funding for the Family Violence Treatment Program is provided by Ministry of Justice – Attorney General.

Structure

Kanaweyimik Family Violence Treatment Program serves individuals referred from the Battlefords Domestic Violence Treatment Options (BDVTO) Court, as well as individuals who are self-referred or referred by a community agency.

Program Treatment

Kanaweyimik offers a 25-week program with continuous intake. The model used by the program is holistically based, focused on the mind (psychological self), the body (physical self), the emotions (emotional self), and spirit (spiritual self). A combination of both western therapeutic methods and cultural health practices are used. Men's group sessions are held every Monday and victims’ sessions are held every Tuesday.

Impact of child witnessing

Catholic Family Services offers parenting and children exposed to violence programs.

Accountability to Victims

Kanaweyimik Family Violence Treatment Program provides services to all family members, which would include victims of violence on a volunteer basis.

Integration

Kanaweyimik is part of “The Working Group” that takes a case management role with offenders in BDVTO Court. It includes representatives from Victim Services, Community Corrections, Legal Aid, Crown Prosecutors, and Mental Health. The Working Group meets every second Friday to discuss client progress. For offenders referred from the DVTO, a Kanaweyimik counsellor provides progress reports to the court every second Thursday.

Evaluation

Annual data reports are compiled for each court. Two courts have participated in a process and outcome evaluation and recidivism studies; one in an implementation evaluation. A research project with the University of Regina is focused on the impact of therapeutic courts on the various systems involved.

Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Programming:

Voluntary services are provided to victims of interpersonal violence and abuse through the Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Program [IVA]. The program provides funding for the delivery of 43 IVA services through 33 non-profit organizations in 17 communities for Saskatchewan residents who are at risk of, victims of and survivors of interpersonal violence and abuse. This includes crisis services for women and their children and non-residential services and support for those affected by sexual violence and assault, domestic violence, family violence, dating violence and assault.

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