D. Batterers Intervention and Prevention Programs (BIPP)

Opportunity exists to increase the expectations of the child welfare system around understanding and safely addressing the dynamics of domestic violence. This can include increased partnerships with domestic violence experts and making appropriate referrals for services when domestic violence is identified such as a Batterers Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP).

Many accredited BIPPs in Texas contract with DFPS and therefore are available free of charge to participants. TCFV can provide a list of these contracted providers upon request to bgrimmer@tcfv.org. For accredited non-contracted BIPPs, please check the TDCJ website. If a BIPP is not available, individual counseling with a practitioner who specializes in working with issues of power, control, and coercion is recommended. Ordering Anger Management classes is not recommended since perpetrators can use information from those classes to become more effective at controlling their intimate partners while minimizing the visibility of their possessive behavior/parenting choices.

Ordering domestic violence perpetrators to participate in BIPP sends the message to the survivor parent and the family that the perpetrator is accountable for their choices that impact the safety of their children and family. BIPPs are designed to give clients the skills to treat their partners and children with respect and handle conflict without violence. However, these programs cannot guarantee safety for survivor parents, or “fix” someone who has been and/or continues to be chose abusive and coercive behaviors that harm and disrupt the family functioning of the survivor parent and their children.

Asking follow-up questions of the perpetrator about the parenting choices that they are making, and confirming their attendance, participation, and progress with the BIPP is critical.

Below are some suggested questions for judges to ask of the person enrolled in the BIPP:

Understanding Prior History:

1. Have you previously participated in services to address similar behaviors?

2. What services? How often? For how long did you participate in those services?

3. What behavior changes, if any, did you notice from participating in those services?

4. What helped you to keep those behavior changes?

5. How long did those behavior changes last?

6. Did you reach out for additional support if you chose to use tactics such as manipulation, coercion, threats, weapons, physical violence, emotional violence, and psychological violence against the survivor parent?

7. Did you think those services were beneficial?

Prior to Attendance of BIPP (or other court-ordered services):

1. What are two hopes that you have for your relationship with your children?

2. What are two behaviors about yourself that you would like to improve or change?

3. What are two things you are proud of yourself for?

4. What are two ways that you think your child's other parent supports your children to grow?

5. What are two ways you show your children that you care?

6. What do you think your children would say about how they know when you are upset, frustrated, or angry?

During Service Participation:

1. What are you learning from the services?

2. What is your role in creating an unsafe environment for your child?

3. What is your role in creating a safe environment for your child?

4. What is your role in disrupting the safe environment for your child?

5. Can you give me three examples of ways that you are making different choices? What would you have normally done and what did you choose instead? What supported you in making the decision?

6. Can you share with me two examples of your behaviors that you are worried causes a safety concerns or fear for the survivor parent? How about for your children?

7. How do those behaviors impact your child feeling safe?

After Completed Attendance of a Batterer Intervention and Prevention Program:

1. Did you think those services were beneficial?

2. What did you learn that you did not know before or understood differently this time?

3. How has the program impacted your behavior choices?

4. Can you share one example of a choice that you made but did not take responsibility for this week?

5. If you had another opportunity to make that choice, what would you do?

6. Can you share about some of the decisions that you made and the impact it caused your family?

For more information about how to inquire about and support safe parenting choices by the perpetrator, judges might access resources available through the Safe and Together Institute.

Below are some suggested questions that judges might consider asking the survivor parent:

Questions that Support Safety and Security:[139]

1. What support you need to continue to parent and feel safer?

2. What support, services, or resources do you need to continue to run your home while continuing to keep your children safe?

3. Do you have access to a car or another mode of transportation?

4. Do you have the continued ability or inability to pay rent and buy food?

5. What other needs do you have?

6. Are you aware if you currently have any active protective orders against the perpetrator or if you have had an active protective order against them in the past?

If the Survivor Parent has a substance abuse concern:

1. What are the factors in place that contribute to your continued substance use/abuse?

2. Do you want to work towards getting clean/sober?

3. Have you ever tried to get clean/sober before?

4. If so, what factors were in place that supported you staying clean/sober?

5. What factors were in place that led to your continued use?

6. Has the perpetrator ever disrupted your attempts at sobriety?

If the Survivor Parent has a mental health concern:

1. What are the factors in place that contribute to your mental health challenges?

2. Do you want to work towards addressing potential mental health challenges?

3. Have you ever tried to address your mental health before?

4. If so, what factors were in place that supported you feeling well?

5. What factors were in place that led you to feeling unwell?

6. Has the perpetrator ever disrupted your attempts to care for your mental health and wellness?

Talking with the Survivor Parent Privately:

1. What are you already doing that is helping to keep you and your children safe?

2. How can we support you to continue those protective strategies and actions?

3. What additional supports will help you keep yourself and your child safe and together?