HOME    http://www.eurowrc.org/   >  Contributions  >  Education_EuroWRC


Previous Home Up Next



Domestic Violence Information Manual
The Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project 


Domestic Violence Information Manual


Copyright (c) Ellen Pence, Michael Paymar, Springer Publishing Company, Inc., 1993.

In 1980 in Duluth, Minnesota, http://www.duluth-model.org/  after a particularly brutal "domestic" homicide, the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) found a relatively receptive community willing to experiment with new practices to confront the problem of men's violence toward their partners. Organizers from DAIP debated, cajoled, and negotiated with law enforcement agencies, the justice system, and human service providers to go beyond a superficial examination of the flaws in the system to committing to a comprehensive overhaul of the police, court, and human service systems' response to these cases. The project argued for practices that would hold offenders accountable and place the onus of intervention on the community, not on the individual woman being beaten. Ensuring women's safety would be the community's responsibility. Within a year policies and procedures were developed and a community experiment began.

With a dramatic increase in arrests and prosecution, the city of Duluth had to contend with another major problem: What to do with all of these men? Unless there were aggravating circumstances, the courts refused to impose jail sentences on first offenders without first giving them an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves.

We asked a small group of activists in the battered women's movement to come to Duluth and critique an educational curriculum that we had developed as a guide for counselors to use in court-mandated groups. Barbara Hart and Susan Schechter from the Women's Leadership Institute, and Joe Morse and Miguel Gil from EMERGE in Boston spent several days of intense discussion with us. Our initial draft of a curriculum seemed to be philosophically adrift. Barbara, Susan, Joe, and Miguel guided us by asking questions from the standpoint of women who are battered. Why is she the target of his violence? How does his violence impact the balance of power in their relationship? What did he think could change by hitting her? Why does he assume he is entitled to have power in the relationship? How does the community support his use of violence against her? These questions and continued dialogue helped to shape our analysis of - and ultimately our approach to - working with batterers.

The DAIP has worked with thousands of men over the years. As a monitor of the justice system, we pressure that system to impose consequences for continued acts of violence. As an organization committed to social change, we challenge local institutions to think about their own complicity through their actions or inactions. As an organization that works directly with offenders, we confront batterers' behavior and question their beliefs in the most compassionate way we can.

This extract from their book describes a major component of what has become known as the "Duluth Model." It explains the methods used in their work with men who batter and offers group process techniques for facilitators of men's groups. It is our hope that this book/extract will assist in the understanding of the complex nature of battering and of the man who batters - his thinking, the intent of his actions, and the impact of his violent behavior on the woman he batters, on his children, and ultimately on himself.

We must never forget the danger a woman faces living with a batterer or attempting to leave him. We have no illusions that most men will stop their violence and give up their power, but we have an unshakable belief that within us all is the capacity to change.

Theoretical Framework for Understanding Battering

Education is never neutral. - Paulo Freire

Providing an educational process for men who batter their partners is not a neutral endeavor. Each facilitator conducts a group within a community, a program, and a personal philosophical framework that either supports a man's process of change toward nonviolence or reinforces his dominance over the woman he batters. Each statement, handout, assignment, role play, video, or story used in a group is grounded in a theory.

Theory guides and informs practice. The curriculum described in the book is based on the theory that violence is used to control people's behavior. This curriculum is designed to be used within a community using its institutions to diminish the power of batterers over their victims and to explore with each abusive man the intent and source of his violence and the possibilities for change through seeking a different kind of relationship with women.

Often a fine line separates those of us who teach the class from those court mandated to attend. We've all been socialized in a culture that values power, a culture in which the thinking that we challenge in the groups is present in every aspect of our daily lives. Our schools, churches, and places of work are all structured hierarchically. All of us have engaged in at least some of the tactics batterers use to control their partners. To challenge the norm requires challenging ourselves. In many ways using theories that ignore intent and focusing instead on violence as the result of stress or anger or an inability to express feelings would be easier than what this curriculum offers. It would be more palatable not only to the men but also to those of us who teach the classes. But in the end it is less honest because it fails to acknowledge the real experiences of women who live with men who batter.

In 1984, based on group interviews with women attending educational classes offered by the Duluth battered women's shelter, we began developing a framework for describing the behavior of men who physically and emotionally abuse their partners. Many of the women criticized theories that described battering as cyclical rather than as a constant force in their relationship; that attributed the violence to men's inability to cope with stress; and that failed to acknowledge fully the intention of batterers to gain control over their partners' actions, thoughts, and feelings. Challenging the assumptions about why women stay with men who beat them, more than 200 battered women in Duluth who participated in 30 educational sessions sponsored by the shelter designed the
Power and Control Wheel, which depicts the primary abusive behaviors experienced by women living with men who batter. It illustrates that violence is part of a pattern of behaviors rather than isolated incidents of abuse or cyclical explosions of pent-up anger, frustration, or painful feelings.

A batterer's use of physical assaults or sexual abuse is often infrequent, but it reinforces the power of the other tactics on the wheel (e.g., emotional abuse, isolation, threats of taking the children) that are used at random and eventually undermine his partner's ability to act autonomously.

Although many men experience themselves as out of control or controlled by emotional outbursts when battering, their behaviors are not without intent. They may become almost automatic, but with few exceptions each abusive act can be traced to the intent of the batterer. For example, a man may use degrading names, calling his partner a whore or slut before grabbing, shaking, or slapping her. Although he does not think, "First I'm going to objectify her, then I'm going to hit her," objectifying his partner through degrading names allows him to hit the object he has created rather than his partner. This pattern may be so ingrained in his history and cultural experience that it seems second nature to him.

The tactics used by batterers reflect the tactics used by many groups or individuals in positions of power. Each of the tactics depicted on the Power and Control Wheel are typical of behaviors used by groups of people who dominate others. They are the tactics employed to sustain racism, ageism, classism, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, and many other forms of group domination. Men in particular are taught these tactics in both their families of origin and through their experiences in a culture that teaches men to dominate.

Figure 1.1

Power and Control Wheel

Power and Control Wheel

Batterers, like those who intervene to help them, have been immersed in a culture that supports relationships of dominance. This cultural acceptance of dominance is rooted in the assumption that, based on differences, some people have the legitimate right to master others. Southern whites proclaimed segregation to be God's plan carried out in the interest of "less developed" Southern blacks. Through their institutions, European Americans have for the last five centuries dominated Native American people. When the military failed to completely annihilate them, the churches and, most recently, social service agencies were called on to assimilate them, as if making indigenous people "European" would elevate rather than diminish them as a people. "[The] long patriarchal tradition... was explicitly established in the institutional practices of both the church and the state and supported by some of the most prominent political, legal, religious, philosophical, and literary figures in Western society... They believed that men had the right to dominate and control women and that women were by their very nature subservient to men. This relationship was deemed natural, sacred and unproblematic and such beliefs resulted in long periods of disregard and/or denial of the husband's abuses of his economic, political and physical power." (Dobash & Dobash, 1980, p.7)

Those in control use societal institutions to justify, support, and enforce the relationship of dominance and make extensive efforts to obtain general acceptance of the premises that hierarchy is natural and that those at the bottom are there because of their own deficiencies.

The consciousness of separateness prevails. Differences among people are not celebrated and treasured but used as a reason to dominate. When relationships of dominance become the norm in a culture, then all individuals within it are socialized to internalize those values or exist on the fringe of society. Individuals mirror global and national relationships in their own interpersonal relationships.

Most batterers are informed by cultural messages justifying dominance and vigorously defend their beliefs as absolute truths with slogans such as "Someone has to be in charge," "You can't have two captains for one ship," "If I don't control my child/wife/ partner, she will control me," "God made man first, which means he is supposed to rule woman," or "This is my child, it is my responsibility to control him."

The consciousness of both men and women in this society is shaped by their experiences of this system and all of the forces that work within it. Yet not all men batter women even though all men have been socialized in a society that grants them certain gender privileges. Not all parents physically punish their children even though all parents in this country have the legal right to do so. Likewise, not all white people commit violent acts of racism, yet all whites have been exposed to powerful socializing experiences that tell them they are superior to people of color. Ultimately we must each be accountable for the choices we make.

The history of a man who batters is often a history of childhood abuse; exposure to male role models who have shown hostile attitudes toward women; exposure to women-hating environments; alcoholism; racial and class oppression; and the denial of love and nurturing as a child. Clearly many men who we work with need to find ways to heal from the sexual and physical abuse they experienced as children. We can't discount their pain and their scars. Nevertheless, these individual experiences can easily become both an explanation of why a man batters and an excuse to continue his violence. To change long-held patterns, men must acknowledge the destructive nature of their present behaviors and accept the responsibility for their actions. They are not, however, responsible for creating the many forces that have shaped their thinking. Although the men are not victims of sexism as are the women they beat, they are dehumanized by their socialization.

Not all batterers are the same. A few are mentally ill, some have no apparent remorse for their violence, and some, if not morally motivated to change, are at least miserable enough to want their situation to be different. Still others are truly appalled at their own behavior. The rationalizations of abusers for their behaviors, like those of other individuals and groups who dominate through force, often result in the abusers not only portraying but, in some sense, believing themselves to be the victims of those they beat. This delusion is often reinforced by the practices of police, judges, social workers, clergy, educators, therapists, reporters, and other representatives of society's institutions.

Abusers are capable of personal transformation, and many of them will make extensive changes if certain conditions exist. First, the abuser must be held fully accountable for his use of violence by a community that establishes and enforces consequences for continued acts of abuse. Second, he must have an environment that is non-violent, non-judgemental, and respectful of women and children in which to start making those changes. And finally, he must be willing to work through a long process during which he is painfully honest with himself and becomes accountable to the woman he has harmed.

The Issue of Gender

Throughout this curriculum we use male pronouns to refer to batterers and female pronouns to refer to those who are battered. Dealing with gay and lesbian battering is beyond the scope of the book. We use gender-specific terms not only because the curriculum is for men who batter, but because battering is not a gender-neutral issue.

In intimate heterosexual relationships where violence is occurring, the primary aggressors are typically men, and the victims are women. Every source of data, from police reports to hospital emergency rooms, from counseling centers to divorce courts, points to an enormous gender disparity in who is initiating the violence, who is more physically harmed, and who is seeking safety from the violence.


Sometimes I would really push her to hit me or to brush up against me and then I would really feel justified in hitting her. I'd just think she hit me first.

Violence in the family is directly linked to status in the family and to socialization. Men are culturally prepared for their role of master of the home even though they must often physically enforce the "right" to exercise this role. They are socialized to be dominant and women to be subordinate.

This doesn't mean that women never use violence. A person who is kicked or punched or spit on or cursed or dragged from room to room or thrown down on the floor usually responds with some kind of physical defense. Women often kick, scratch, and bite the men who beat them, but that does not constitute mutual battering.

Mutual battering occurs when both parties engage in a series of abusive and controlling behaviors, coupled with the threat or use of violence to control what the other partner thinks, does, or feels.

Women's violence toward their male partners that is neither in self-defense nor in response to being battered is rare but can still be very dangerous. During the past 10 years the DAIP has worked with just under 100 women who have physically assaulted their partners (this represents 3.5 % of offenders mandated to DAIP). In seven of these cases, the men were unable to leave the situation without increasing their partner's violence. These seven men, like the thousands of women who have sought safety at the shelter, were being pursued and terrorized by their partners. They, like many battered women, needed legal protection, safe housing, and tremendous emotional support.

What separated those seven men from the 90 other male assault victims was their fear and their inability to leave without their abusers escalating the violence and threats. Most men who live with women who are violent are abusing the women who have assaulted them and can end the violence against them by stopping their own violence or leaving the relationship.

The factors differentiating the enormous social problem of men's violence against women from the violence of women against men are the number of cases and the severity and pattern of the violence used against the victims. The civil protection order and the criminal court process are effective tools for protecting almost all male victims because women rarely engage in "separation violence," the violence that occurs and escalates as victims attempt to leave their abusers. A report issued by the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women on January 28, 1991, documented the murders of 27 Minnesota women who were killed in 1990 by their male partners; half of them were trying to leave their relationships. None of the public documents indicates that any of the men killed by their partners during the same year were attempting to leave the relationship.

Blaming of Women for Men's Violence

The use of the tactics on the Power and Control Wheel result in men's domination of women physically, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually. When a woman is repeatedly battered, she experiences severe physical, psychological, and spiritual trauma. When she manifests the effects of these attacks or fights back she is labeled by the batterer, and by the system that colludes with him, as defective. She is described by him as a provocative bitch, a whore, a junkie, a bad mother, a violent drunk, a liar, a manhater, a thief, and a woman out to get him. She is labeled by the community as an enabler, a reluctant witness, a co-dependent partner, a woman caught in a honeymoon phase, a non-assertive woman suffering from learned helplessness, a mother with poor parenting skills, a drug or alcohol abuser, a violent person, and a self-destructive woman. Like any person or group at the bottom of an abusive hierarchical order, she is thought to be there because something is wrong with her. He defines her this way, and the system backs him up.

She is studied in her post-victimized state and is judged to be lacking. She is compared with "non-battered" women in study after study, and the difference between the two is defined as the cause of her problem. The question of why this woman is the one who gets hit is answered by theories of academics and professionals that sound suspiciously like the claims of her batterer. She lacks certain skills and attitudes, and her behavior is not quite right. He is reinforced; she is re-victimized. He becomes a more co-operative client; she becomes more problematic.

Battered women, like non-battered women, come from all backgrounds and act in many different ways. Some battered women are incredibly kind and loving; others are not. Some never touch alcohol; some are heavy drinkers. Some are monogamous; others are not. But rarely can a person get involved in this issue and stay clear about how irrelevant all of that is. Our system and those of us who are its agents search for an answer to the question: Is she an innocent victim, or did she somehow play a part in her victimization? How we answer that question dictates how we respond to him as a perpetrator and to her as a victim. The Duluth model of interagency intervention and the groups for men are structured to keep all of us - the men, the group leaders, and those in the court system - from engaging in victim-blaming practices.

Common Beliefs of Batterers

The 26-week curriculum described in the book is designed to help men change from using the behaviors on the Power and Control Wheel, which result in authoritarian and destructive relationships, to using the behaviors on the Equality Wheel, which form the basis for egalitarian relationships.

Figure 1.2

Equality Wheel

Equality Wheel

Although men in groups may stop using violence, eliminating other behaviors on the Power and Control Wheel is a much longer process. If a batterer does not have a personal commitment to give up his position of power, he will eventually return to the use of threats or violence to gain control. Long-term change and a true commitment to egalitarian relationships necessitates a long, honest look at deeply held beliefs, a resolve to handle conflict differently, and an honest examination of why he wants a woman in his life. His change process requires practicing the things we can teach him with the hope that those alternative behaviors become his new norm. Every aspect of the Duluth intervention process and the curriculum is designed to challenge a lifelong pattern of thinking, rationalizing, and acting that leads to violence and other forms of abuse.


  • DOBASH, R.E. & DOBASH, R.P. Violence Against Wives: A Case Against the Patriarchy. Open Books, London: 1980.

  • PENCE, E., and PAYMAR, M. Education Groups For Men Who Batter: The Duluth Model. Springer Publishing, New York: 1993.

For copies of this book, please write:
Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, 
206 West Fourth Street, Duluth, Minnesota 55806, 
United States of America

or telephone: 1 218 722 2781

W.I.S.E. - Women's Issues and Social Empowerment 


The Duluth Model


The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) in Duluth, Minnesota, is a comprehensive, community-based program for intervention in domestic abuse cases. It attempts to coordinate the response of the many agencies and practitioners who respond to domestic violence cases in our community. The project involves community organizing and advocacy that examines training programs, policies, procedures and texts, intake forms, report formats, assessments, evaluations, checklists and other materials. We ask how each practice, procedure, form or brochure either enhance or compromise victim safety.

When a woman being beaten by her husband calls 911, she dials into a complex community system, which often resolves cases based on institutional imperatives rather than on making victim safety central. This reflects an historical tolerance for domestic violence, rather than the attitudes of individual practitioners. Negotiating common understandings among agencies lessens the negative impact of fragmented philosophies and responses on the victims of domestic violence. These understandings make central the victim's experience of violence and coercion and the ongoing threats to her safety.

The shared framework for community intervention is guided by practical questions: Who is doing harm to whom? How dangerous is this situation? Who needs protection? Community agencies include the communications center (9-1-1), police department, jail, prosecutor's office, sheriff's department, probation department, women's shelter, public health department, district bench, and several mental health agencies. With each agency, the goal is to make links between what individual practitioners do in a case and the overall effect of intervention.

An additional component of the DAIP is the nonviolence program which consists of classes for offenders who are court-ordered to our program. We use the curriculum Power and Control: Tactics of Men Who Batter, a 24-week educational curriculum. (The curriculum materials are further described in the National Training Project catalog.) We contact partners of the men and offer advocacy, community resources, and a women's group. We use a curriculum, In Our Best Interest: A Process for Personal and Social Change for this battered women's group. Women who have been arrested for using violence are also ordered to attend nonviolence classes. Classes are provided for women and we are currently in the process of documenting the curriculum which is further described at our page Women Who Use Violence. Watch for news when this curriculum is ready for distribution.


In 1981, nine city, county, and private agencies in Duluth, Minnesota adopted policies and procedures which coordinated their intervention in domestic assault cases. These measures focus on protecting victims from continued acts of violence by combining legal sanctions, nonviolence classes, and when necessary, incarceration to end the violence. Consistently applied, their message to offenders is clear: Your use of violence is unacceptable.

The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project is the coordinating agency for this effort. Domestic violence programs throughout the nation have relied on our experiences as they have addressed domestic violence in their own communities. During the past fifteen years, the National Training Project of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project has provided over 1,000 trainings and seminars in the U.S. and more than ten other countries. We have also produced many manuals, videotapes, and other curriculum materials. Profits from the National Training Project are dedicated to supporting the Duluth programs and to providing ongoing training and technical assistance to other organizations working to end violence.

In 1988 the Harvard University School of Government and the Ford Foundation presented the City of Duluth and the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project with the prestigious Innovations in State and Local Government Award. In 1996, Dr. Lonnie Bristow, president of the American Medical Association, presented the association's President's Award of Excellence to the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. "What they're (DAIP) doing is what we're trying to advocate for the rest of the country -- a combined approach using medical, judicial, and social systems," Bristow said.

We welcome the opportunity to work with our counterparts in other communities.


It is vital that policies and procedures for intervention in domestic assault cases be founded on a sound theoretical basis which protects battered women, helps judicial system practitioners discharge their public duties, and renounces the practice of victim blaming. The following principles guide the policies and procedures of the DAIP.

  • The first priority of intervention should be to carry out policies and protocols which protect the victim from further harm and whenever possible, the burden of holding abusers accountable should rest with the community, not the victim.

  • To make fundamental changes in a community's response to violence against women, individual practitioners must work cooperatively, guided by training, job descriptions, and standardized practices that are all oriented toward the desired changes.

  • Intervention must be responsive to the totality of harm done by the violence rather than be incident or punishment focused.

  • Intervention practices must be accountable to the victim, whose life is most impacted by our individual and collective actions.

  • Victims must have access to safe emergency housing, information and advocacy necessary to act in the courts, and should not be denied protection because of the cost of professional assistance.

  • Except in the case of self-defense, violence is a criminal offense and the police and court are used to prevent further assaults. The intensity of intervention is based on the need for protection from further harm and on creating a deterrence to the abuser.

  • The primary focus of intervention is on stopping the assailant's use of violence, not on fixing or ending the relationship.

  • In general, the court avoids prescribing a course of action for the victim, e.g., does not force a victim to testify by threatening jail, nor mandate treatment for the victim.

  • The courts and law enforcement agencies work cooperatively with victim advocacy programs and provide the advocacy/shelter program and victim with the broadest possible access to legal information.

  • When appropriate, the courts mandate educational classes for assailants and impose increasingly harsh penalties for any continued acts of harassment and violence.

  • All policies and procedural guidelines benefit from review by members of the communities not represented by majority culture (e.g., communities of color, the gay/lesbian/bisexual community, people who are low income). Their review should include a close look at monitoring procedures to safeguard against the use of race, class, or lifestyle biases in implementing policies.

  • Policies and procedures should act as a general deterrent to battering in the community.

  • All practices and policies should be continually evaluated for effectiveness in protecting victims and to plan ongoing training for agencies.

  • All interventions must account for the power imbalance between the assailant and the victim. Adherence to these principles helps to produce consistent results regardless of the beliefs or values of an individual practitioner.


Education Groups for Men Who Batter : The Duluth Model 
ISBN: 0826179908 

By: Pence, Ellen/ Paymar, Michael/ Ritmeester, Tineke/ Shepard, Melanie 
Publisher: Springer Pub Co 

OUR PRICE for delivery to:
USA/Canada: US$38.40
Australia/NZ: A$103.90
Other Countries:US$66.00  


Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention
History of the National Training Project

In the 1970's, when the first shelters for battered women opened, the response of law enforcement, courts and human service practitioners to domestic assault cases was dismally inadequate. Since that time policy makers in almost every profession involved in these cases have reassessed their appropriate intervention roles in cases of battering.

Since 1974 hundreds of federal, state and city commissions and task forces have studied the problem and made recommendations for change.

With few exceptions, these public commissions document brutal beatings, psychological terrorism and murders that could have been prevented by altering not the perpetrator's character or the response of the victim to the perpetrator, but the reaction of the public agencies to the violence, to the perpetrator and to the victim. Public commissions consistently point to five areas to improve the system's response to assault cases. 

1.A shift in the orientation of the system's response of placing the major responsibility of stopping the violence on the shoulders of the victim, to recognizing the role that community agencies must play in directly confronting the perpetrator. 
2.A need to be consistent in how practitioners in a given discipline respond, and the need to exchange the information and observations of the many people involved in a case for practitioners to make informed decisions. 
3.A need to enhance practitioners' technical skills in working with assailants, victims and children. 
4.A need to increase the understanding of human service and court agents of the complex set of economic, physical and psychological conditions that exist in relationships where there is violence. 
5.A need to insure basic protective resources for victims of violence. 

The Duluth Experience

The City of Duluth has received international recognition for its pioneering efforts to alter public policy to protect victims of domestic abuse and offer rehabilitation opportunities for offenders.

In 1981, nine city, county and private agencies organized under the umbrella of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) to adopt policies and procedures coordinating their intervention in domestic assault cases. These policies focused on protecting victims from continued acts of violence by combining support services for victims with legal sanctions, rehabilitation program and, when necessary, incarceration of an assailant. The Duluth project has been widely recognized as a model in confronting domestic assault.

The National Training Project

In the past twelve years, the Domestic Abuse Intervention project has responded to thousands of requests asking for information, for guidance or, sometimes, simply for encouragement. The project has offered seminars, trainings and workshops in seven countries and has trained staff of domestic violence and community agencies in all fifty states. In 1989 the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project decided to form the National Training Project using both trainers who work directly with the Duluth Model and practitioners implementing similar projects in larger communities such as San Diego, Boston, Milwaukee and Nashville.

While our experience over the years had led to the development of exercises, handouts, overheads, lectures and training videos, no two seminars, conferences or trainings have been the same. The social, economic and political realities of each community we travel to or of those who have attended our week-long institutes in Duluth have shaped the design and content of every training we have offered.

The National Training Project offers a number of general and specialized trainings. The general trainings focus on providing a philosophical orientation for practitioners and defines the roles of each agency in dealing with both the victim and the assailant. The specialized trainings offer an overview of the interagency approach, but focus on enhancing the individual practitioner's skills and philosophical orientation in carrying out specific intervention functions.

Many communities ask us to provide a one-day interagency training followed by specialized trainings. A training coordinator can assist you in determining which of the trainings or combination of trainings best fits your community needs. Our brochure gives a general description of each of the trainings. To order our training and publications brochure, contact:

Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
National Training Project
206 West Fourth Street
Duluth, Minnesota
55806 U.S.A.
Ph: (218) 722-2781
Fx: (218) 722-0779


Previous Home Up Next