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Exploring the evidence-base for intimate partner violence prevention and treatment modalities: A review of the research

APA Citation:

Frye-Cox, N., Burke, B., Nichols, L. R., O’Neal, C. W., & Lucier-Greer, M. (2020). Exploring the evidence-base for intimate partner violence prevention and treatment modalities: A review of the research. Auburn, AL: Military REACH.

Abstract Created by REACH:

Request: The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Family Advocacy Program (FAP) requested a comprehensive literature review to examine the most up-to-date research regarding services and treatment programs for offenders (henceforth, referred to as abusers) of intimate partner violence (IPV) and, when appropriate, their spouses/partners, with attention to: • Prevention and intervention programs, specifically: • Couples counseling • Anger management • Batterer intervention programs • Programs that focus on engaging men to disrupt harmful gender norms • Services and treatments developed for military or veteran populations, when possible. Accordingly, this report addresses a wide range of prevention efforts focused on promoting healthy relationships (primary prevention), reducing the risk of violent and abusive behaviors (secondary prevention), and reducing recidivism among individuals who have demonstrated unhealthy or abusive behaviors (tertiary prevention).¹ Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): There is no singular “best practice” that exists for the treatment of IPV. Rather, recommendations suggest a focus on preventative approaches that address beliefs and behaviors related to IPV before they become problematic. For instances in which abusive patterns have emerged, a focus on assessment is suggested so that individuals (and in some cases, couples) can be paired with appropriate services and treatments. Accordingly, the foci of this report included: Screening and assessment: Two strategies to prevent IPV and enhance safety for victims are screening and assessment (Tinney & Gerlock, 2014). Screening tools can be used to quickly identify a problem, while assessments not only detect IPV but can also inform appropriate treatment for abusers. To ensure adequate treatment fit, multiple assessments are discussed (and provided in the appendices) that 1) detect IPV, 2) determine the type of IPV that is occurring, and/or 3) consider individual and relational risk factors of the abuser. These various assessments assist helping professionals in matching abusers to the appropriate treatment in an effort to ensure the safety of the victim and prevent IPV from reoccurring. Early prevention: Systematic efforts to preemptively address violence are needed at both the community level (e.g., addressing the culture surrounding violence within couple relationships) and the individual- and couplelevels (e.g., promoting healthy relationship skills and effective conflict management skills). Treatment: Current treatment approaches for addressing IPV, including various batterer intervention programs (BIPs) and therapeutic models, demonstrate, at best, modest effects on reducing violence and recidivism (Babcock et al., 2016; Cheng et al., 2019). Nevertheless, some promising individual and couple IPV treatment programs are reviewed. Although each program treats IPV differently, they share several therapeutic techniques designed to enhance abusers’ cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills.



Branch of Service:

Coast Guard
International Military
Marine Corps
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Guard/Reserve member
Military non-medical service providers


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Review of Literature


Frye-Cox, Nick, Burke, Benjamin, Nichols, Lucy R., O’Neal, Catherine Walker, Lucier-Greer, Mallory

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Military REACH

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, NFC
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, BB
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, LRN
Department of Human Development and Family Science, University of Georgia, CWO
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, MLG


intimate partner violence, treatment modalities, screening and assessment, early prevention


Auburn University

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Report


This product was developed as a result of a partnership funded by the Department of Defense (DoD) between the DoD’s Office of Military Family Readiness Policy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA) through a grant/cooperative agreement with Auburn University. USDA/NIFA Award No. 2017-48710-27339, Principal Investigator, Mallory Lucier-Greer.

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