Programming Responses for Intimate Partner Violence

NEW BRUNSWICK

Context

IPV Legislation: N/A

Domestic Violence Court

A Domestic Violence Court exists in Moncton and services the counties of Kent, Westmorland, and Albert.

Provincial Action Plan: A Better World for Women: Moving Forward (2005 – 2010).

The Government of New Brunswick established a Minister’s Working Group on Violence Against Women in 2000 to develop an action plan addressing violence against women. The group presented recommendations in 2001. The first 3-year action plan, “A Better World for Women” was launched to address these recommendations.

“A Better World for Women: Moving Forward” is the Province’s second plan. Targets of the Plan include the establishment of a specialized court model to enhance women’s safety, education and prevention, leadership and coordination and transitional supports for women, and services to women and children.

Services and supports for victims and children exposed to IPV are discussed throughout the Plan. Strategies regarding treatment for perpetrators are entrenched within the IPV court model.

Provincial coordination exists in New Brunswick through the “Provincial Partnerships In Action Committee”. This Committee is coordinated by the Women’s Equality Branch, Executive Council Office, and the Government of New Brunswick. The Committee is the parent body of the IPV committees across the province that are made up of key stakeholders representing government and non-government agencies.

The Domestic Violence Court was established in Moncton in 2007. The court model includes coordinated services for victims. Probation officers, who function as case managers, assess risk, treatment needs, arrange for and monitor the offender’s progress and report back to the court. Monitoring typically begins 6-weeks post sentencing, or for incarcerated offenders, 2-weeks post-release. Offenders are required to attend 1 to 3 monitoring sessions. As with other domestic violence court models, the Moncton court provides expedited access to IPV intervention programs for low risk offenders who accept responsibility for the offence and meet eligibility criteria for program admission

The Domestic Violence Court facilitates sharing of information between the criminal and family divisions through the Court Coordinator. Information, such as child protection orders and custody and access restrictions are shared to align criminal and civil restrictions in IPV cases.

Risk Assessment

In 2014 the provincial government adopted the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) as the standardized risk assessment tool for police services. Probation uses 2 tools; ODARA, and the Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI). These instruments assist in identifying a number of potential treatment needs including addiction treatment, mental health services, domestic violence intervention and prevention programs. Probation refers offenders to treatment based on their needs and level of risk and reports the offender’s progress to the Court through monitoring sessions.

Treatment for offenders streamed through the DV court in Moncton are provided by the John Howard Society’s Domestic Violence Program for Men and Women or the Centre de ressources et de crises familiales Beauséjour. Treatment across other regions of the province are provided by a number of other independent agencies for probation mandated clients.

Funding

All interventions for mandated IPV offenders are funded by the Department of Public Safety.

Interventions Associated with Moncton’s DV Court

There are two streams of services provided for domestic violence programs. The John Howard Society delivers a low-risk program for both men and women. The Beauséjour Family Crisis Resource Centre Inc. delivers a program for moderate- and high-risk offenders (Narrative Therapy Domestic Violence - High Intensity Intervention).

John Howard Society (JHS)
Moncton, New Brunswick

Moncton Probation refers offenders to the appropriate program and attendance is mandatory. JHS provides a final report addressing progress and goals obtained by the offender. The report is shared with Probation.

Risk assessment

JHS does not conduct risk assessment. Group facilitators monitor client’s risk during group using unstructured professional judgment and report any escalation in risk to the probation officer immediately.

Domestic Violence Program for Men – Low Intensity

Treatment

The Domestic Violence Program for Men - Low Intensityconsists of 10 sessions, each 2 hours in duration. Topics include defining different types of abuse and recognizing associated behaviours, cycle of violence, power and control, communication, changing beliefs and behaviours, conflict, journey to health through grief and loss, sex role stereotyping, self-talk and planning for the future. The group utilizes a CBT treatment modality.

Narrative Therapy Domestic Violence - High Intensity Intervention

Structure

Mandated offenders are referred to the program by Public Safety, Probation Services. Information about the offender’s attendance and any behavioural concerns are shared with the offender’s probation officer. At week 8 a ‘cost/benefit analysis’ is completed and shared with probation. Offenders are given a pass/fail at the end of the program as well as a clinical report that outlines his progress and outcomes achieved.

Treatment

The program is based on the Bridges program (narrative therapy and CBT) and is designed specifically for high-risk offenders. The program is 16 weeks in duration, 2-hours per week. Prior to attending group, offenders participate in 3 individual sessions to prepare them for the group.

Information covered in the group includes re-authoring identity, abuse and gender, taking responsibility, defining distractions, relapse prevention planning, how to heal and repair from abuse, how to listen, how to share, economic respect, sexual respect and a letter of apology.

Parenting/Impact on child witnesses

Information regarding the effects of abuse on women and children are incorporated into the group treatment.

Accountability to Victims

Partner contact is done through the agency’s women’s outreach services. There is no information sharing between women’s outreach and the men’s intervention programs.

Centre de ressources et de crises familiales Beauséjour
Shediac, New Brunswick

Risk assessment

Beausejour relies on the risk assessment done by the police and the Probation Officer. Men who score in the moderate to high range on ODARA are referred to the program.

Funding

Beausejour is funded through the Department of Public Safety.

Structure

The program receives referrals from the Moncton Domestic Violence Court. Information regarding attendance is shared weekly with probation in addition to any behavioural concerns. The Agency submits a mid-program assessment and a final report at program completion to the Probation Officer.

Treatment

The program is based on the Bridges program (narrative and CBT) and is designed specifically for high-risk offenders. The program consists of 16 weekly sessions, each 2 hours in duration. Offenders must participate in 3 individual sessions prior to beginning the group. Group sizes range from 5 - 8 participants up to a maximum of 12. The group is based on Narrative Therapy and includes 4 stages: Preparing to Take Responsibility; Stage 2: Formalize Relapse Prevention Plans-Past Incidents of Abuse; Stage 3: Studying the Effects of Abuse; Stage 4: Healing and Repairing the Effects of Abuse. The following elements are part of the curriculum; cost benefit/ analysis of violence, taking responsibility for our behavior, types of violent behaviours, attitudes and beliefs associated with domestic violence, socialization, understanding the impact of abuse on others, cognitive restructuring using CBT, emotions management (anger, jealousy, shame and guilt), problem solving, communication techniques, healthy relationships, intimacy and sex, social expectations and our behaviors, empathy interview (role reversal), forgiveness, healing, making better choices and, writing the next chapters in your life.

Parenting/Impact on child witnesses

The program has incorporated materials from the Caring Dads program.

Accountability to victims

The program does not have contact with victims. The Department of Public Safety, Victim Services offers the full range of services to victims including referrals to counselling, court preparation, crime compensation program, victim impact statements and notification of offender release. Recognizing that the victim is a voluntary client, and therefore the decision maker, Victim Services Coordinators explain safety planning and encourage the victim to participate in the completion of an Aid to Safety Assessment and Planning (ASAP) evaluation and the Danger Assessment. The Victim Services Coordinators provide advocacy and support throughout the criminal justice process.

Programs with no association to Moncton’s DV Court

Other regions of New Brunswick are not served by the DV court. In these areas, a number of agencies provide service to probation-mandated offenders. There has been a consistent effort in New Brunswick to keep treatment for low and high-risk offenders separate and funding may be provided to different agencies to serve offenders at differing risk levels. Currently, New Brunswick is reviewing and modifying its approach and there is a great deal of uncertainty around services. Two of the agencies with established histories and programs for offenders are described below.

Options Men’s Program
Empathic Life Solutions
Moncton, NB

Risk Assessment

The program does not conduct risk assessments or provide a differential response based on level of risk.

Funding

The Options Men’s Program is funded by the Department of Social Development (DSD).

Structure

Referrals are received by DSD social workers, community therapists, physicians and men who self-refer. Information is shared with referral sources through consent of the client. Probation services may also refer participants, however justice referred participants are a minority of those served by the Options Men’s program.

Treatment

The program includes 12 weekly sessions, each 2 hours in duration. The group content is based primarily in Narrative and Cognitive-behavioural Therapy. Information covered includes values for intimate relationships, values as a father, social expectations of men, expectations of men’s and women’s roles in relationships, re-authoring shame, values for self, defining abuse, taking responsibility, distracting ideas and behaviours, warning signs of escalation, managing escalation of emotions, challenging thinking, empathy, effects of IPV on victims and children, healing or repairing effects, apology, forgiveness, managing expectations, and specific actions regarding making changes.

Impact of child witnesses

Caring Dads (see Ontario) is currently being offered through the Options Men’s Program.

Accountability to Victims

Victims are offered a parallel group called Options Women’s Group. Options use the Danger Assessment in victim safety planning.

Alternatives Program
Restigouche Family Services
Campbellton (NB) (506) 753-4161

Risk Assessment

Offender risk is assessed by the Restigouche Family Services using SARA. The intervention plans for individual offenders are based on this assessment and risk information is shared with those who provide support to victims. Risk assessment is repeated at the middle and end of the program or as required.

Funding

Services are funded by the Department of Social Development and the Department of Public Safety.

Structure

Offenders are referred to the Alternatives Program by probation and attend on a mandatory basis. The program also accepts referrals from community agencies or men who self-refer and attend voluntarily. Information is shared with the referral source with the consent of the client.

Treatment

Alternatives is a 15-week program based largely on the principles of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. Topics covered include anger and aggression management, brain functioning and habit formation, managing stress, self-talk, power and control, healthy relationships, communication skills, effects of domestic violence on children, parenting basics, emotion management, irrational beliefs, resolving conflicts and past experiences.

Individual treatment is also available for offenders who are not appropriate for group counselling.

Parenting/Impact of child witnessing

Information regarding the impact on children and basic parenting skills are incorporated into the program content.

Accountability to Victims

Group facilitators contact victims as part of service.

Evaluation.

Moncton’s domestic violence court was evaluated in 2011 and became a permanent feature of the NB justice response to domestic violence. The evaluation looked at data for offenders accessing the Court between 2007 and 2010. The evaluation was unable to answer the question - ‘is the Court working’ but was able to provide useful descriptive data regarding who was referred to the Court. The evaluation also described the recidivism rate for offenders in the first year post-intervention at 33%, and in the second year, at 30%. In year 3, the recidivism rate dropped to 11%. Of those men that reoffended, 69% offended more than once.

Date modified: