What is Domestic Violence Offender Treatment?
The purpose of offender treatment is to increase victim and community safety by reducing the offender’s risk of future abuse.
What is a Treatment Victim Advocate?
Treatment victim advocates (TVAs) typically work for or contract with offender treatment providers. They attempt to contact victims of the offenders who are in treatment, to provide information, support, and resources. TVAs have a duty to maintain confidentiality and are mandatory reporters of known or suspected child abuse and abuse of elders and at-risk adults.
- Serve as a bridge between victims and MTTs, participate in case problem-solving, and educate MTTs on trauma-informed considerations for victims.
- Represent victim experiences and perspectives, whether or not a victim has been contacted, and whether or not a victim chooses to share information with an MTT
- Contact victims and discuss safe modes of communication, offer a general overview of the DV offender treatment process, offer general information about DV (such as warning signs and risks), discuss safety issues, and offer resources and referrals as needed
- Explain confidentiality and the limitations, which includes mandatory reporting requirements, as well as victim choices and impacts about sharing information with the treatment provider and/or the entire MTT
- May share information with victims about offender attendance/absences, progress in treatment and with treatment goals, changes in risk, and discharge planning
- Use discretion regarding sharing information when a co-defendant and/or identified victim is actually the abusive partner
What happens in Domestic Violence Offender Treatment?
This process includes a review of police reports, criminal history, substance abuse and mental health screening, and any other information pertaining to the offender and prior abusive incidents.
Domestic violence offender treatment differs from traditional
psychotherapy. When someone is placed in treatment, it is based on their risk which is determined through the evaluation process. The level of treatment determines the frequency and intensity. Team decision-making is used to determine their treatment goals, progress, and readiness for discharge from the program. The team consists, at a minimum, of the treatment provider, the supervising officer, and the treatment victim advocate. Others might also be involved, depending on the risk.
Many do not understand that abuse is not just physical violence, but also emotional and verbal assaults, destruction of property, stalking, child and animal abuse, and other behaviors that can terrify victims, their families, friends, and co-workers.
Attitudes and Beliefs
Offenders often feel entitled to their abusive behavior, and/or blame their partner for the abuse. Treatment challenges these attitudes and beliefs.
Offenders are required to actively participate in treatment.
What Should I Expect While They Are in the Offender Treatment Program?
A Treatment Victim Advocate (TVA) from the program will attempt to contact you.
- You can choose your level of participation and/or decision not to participate.
Your safety is the first priority.
- Information you provide will be kept private unless you consent to allow the Treatment Victim Advocate (TVA) to share it.
The TVA from the program can provide you with information on the types of things that can occur in offender treatment. Some examples are:
- Date and time of the treatment group
- Basic treatment requirements
- Notifying you prior to treatment discharge.
If you are interested, the TVA can offer safety planning and resources to you.
Information and Resources for Domestic Violence Organizations and Crime Victims
Violence Free Colorado 720.728.8368
National Domestic Violence Hotline (24/7 local domestic violence service referrals) 1.800.799.7233 TTY 1.800.787.3224
Ending Violence Against Women International 1-509-684-9800
Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance 1-800-261-2682
Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault 303-839-9999
RAINN Hotline (24/7 local sexual assault resources) 1-800-656-4673
National Center for Victims of Crime 1-202-467-8700
Domestic Violence Offender Management Board 303-239-4442
DOVE Email VP 303-831-7932
Will the Offender Change Because of Treatment?
Domestic violence behavior is criminal behavior that is dangerous.
Offenders are capable of change. Responsibility for change rests with the offender. The degree of personal change ultimately rests with the person who caused the harm.
Treatment can only be effective if they want to change. Treatment provides them the opportunity for personal change.
There are no specified times for the length of treatment, it is based on their risk and participation in treatment.
During treatment, they will be assessed for other services (substance use, mental health, etc.).
Couples counseling and family counseling is not allowed until they complete treatment.
What if the Treatment Victim Advocate from the Program has NOT Contacted Me?
If you wish to contact the TVA, you can contact:
- The supervising officer or victim services from the supervising agency to obtain the contact information or provide your contact information
- The treatment provider directly for the contact information
- The Colorado Domestic Violence Offender Management Board
Division of Criminal Justice
700 Kipling Street, Suite 1000
Denver, CO 80215