Duluth model

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The Duluth Model or Domestic Abuse Intervention Project is a program developed to reduce domestic violence against women. It is named after Duluth, Minnesota, the city where it was developed.[1] The program was largely founded by Ellen Pence and Michael Paymar.[1]

As of 2006, the Duluth Model is the most common batterer intervention program used in the United States.[2] It is based in feminist theory positing that "domestic violence is the result of patriarchal ideology in which men are encouraged and expected to control their partners".[2] Critics argue that the method can be ineffective as it was developed without minority communities in mind and can fail to address root psychological or emotional causes of abuse.[2]

Origin and theory

The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project was the first multi-disciplinary program designed to address the issue of domestic violence. This experimental program, conducted in Duluth, Minnesota in 1981, coordinated the actions of a variety of agencies dealing with domestic conflict. The Duluth model curriculum was developed by a "small group of activists in the battered women’s movement" [3] with 5 battered women and 4 men as subjects. The program has become a model for programs in other jurisdictions seeking to deal more effectively with domestic violence.[4]

The feminist theory underlying the Duluth Model is that men use violence within relationships to exercise power and control. This is illustrated by the "Power and Control Wheel," a graphic typically displayed as a poster in participating locations.[5][6] According to the Duluth Model, "women and children are vulnerable to violence because of their unequal social, economic, and political status in society."[7] Treatment of abusive men is focused on re-education, as "we do not see men’s violence against women as stemming from individual pathology, but rather from a socially reinforced sense of entitlement." [8] The program's philosophy is intended to help batterers work to change their attitudes and personal behavior so they would learn to be nonviolent in any relationship.


A U.S. study published in 2002 sponsored by the federal government found that batterers who complete programs based on the Duluth model are less likely to repeat acts of domestic violence than those who do not complete any batterers intervention program."[9]

A 2003 study conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Justice found the Duluth Model to have "little or no effect."[10]

A 2005 study led by Larry Bennett, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an expert on batterer intervention programs, found that of the 30 batterer intervention programs in Cook County, Illinois, 15 percent of batterers who completed the programs were rearrested for domestic violence, compared with 37 percent of those who dropped out of the programs.[9] However, Bennett said the studies are largely meaningless because they lacked a proper control group.[9] He added that participants who complete domestic violence programs are likely to be more motivated than others to improve behavior and would be less inclined to offend again.[9]

A 2011 review of the effectiveness of batterers intervention programs (BIP) (primarily Duluth Model) found that "there is no solid empirical evidence for either the effectiveness or relative superiority of any of the current group interventions," and that "the more rigorous the methodology of evaluation studies, the less encouraging their findings."[11] That is, as BIPs in general, and Duluth Model programs in particular are subject to increasingly rigorous review, their success rate approaches zero.


Criticism of the Duluth Model has centered on the program's insistence that men are perpetrators who are violent because they have been socialized in a patriarchy that condones male violence, and that women are victims who are violent only in self-defense.[12] Some critics argue that "programs based on the Duluth Model may ignore research linking domestic violence to substance abuse and psychological problems, such as attachment disorders, traced to childhood abuse or neglect, or the absence of a history of adequate socialization and training."[9][13] Others criticize the Duluth model as being overly confrontational rather than therapeutic, focusing solely on changing the abuser's actions and attitudes rather than dealing with underlying emotional and psychological issues.[13] Donald Dutton, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia who has studied abusive personalities, states: "The Duluth Model was developed by people who didn't understand anything about therapy,"[9] and also points out that "lesbian battering is more frequent than heterosexual battering." [14]

Its proponents counter that the Duluth model is effective and makes best use of scarce resources.[15] However, Ellen Pence herself has written,

"By determining that the need or desire for power was the motivating force behind battering, we created a conceptual framework that, in fact, did not fit the lived experience of many of the men and women we were working with. The DAIP staff [...] remained undaunted by the difference in our theory and the actual experiences of those we were working with [...] It was the cases themselves that created the chink in each of our theoretical suits of armor. Speaking for myself, I found that many of the men I interviewed did not seem to articulate a desire for power over their partner. Although I relentlessly took every opportunity to point out to men in the groups that they were so motivated and merely in denial, the fact that few men ever articulated such a desire went unnoticed by me and many of my coworkers. Eventually, we realized that we were finding what we had already predetermined to find."[16]

The Duluth Model is featured in the documentary Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America with commentary from its authors as well as its main critics, such as Dutton.[17]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Linda G. Mills (2009). Violent Partners: A Breakthrough Plan for Ending the Cycle of Abuse. Basic Books. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-7867-3187-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wayne Bennett; Kären Hess (2006). Criminal Investigation (8th ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 281. ISBN 0-495-09340-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Ellen Pence; Michael Paymar (1993). Education Groups for Men Who Batter: The Duluth Model. Springer Publishing Company. p. xiii. ISBN 978-0-8261-7990-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Domestic Abuse Intervention Project: History
  5. http://www.theduluthmodel.org/pdf/PowerandControl.pdf
  6. Janice Haaken (2010). Hard Knocks: Domestic Violence and the Psychology of Storytelling. Routledge. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-135-15734-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The Duluth Model". Minnesota Program Development, Inc. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. http://www.theduluthmodel.org/pdf/CounteringConfusion.pdf
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Twohey, Megan (2 January 2009). "How Can Domestic Violence Be Stopped?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 28 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/195079.pdf
  11. http://fisafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/BIPsEffectiveness.pdf
  12. http://scholarship.law.umt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2027&context=mlr
  13. 13.0 13.1 Fisher, Andy, Rick Goodwin and Mark Patton. 2009. “Men & Healing: Theory, Research, and Practice in Working with Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse.” The Men's Project, Funded by the Cornwall Public Inquiry
  14. Patriarchy and Wife Assault: The Ecological Fallacy, Violence & Victims 1994,9, (2), 125 - 140. (1994)
  15. Michael Paymar and Graham Barnes, "Countering Confusion About the Duluth Model", Battered Women’s Justice Project, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  16. Pence, Ellen (1999). "Some Thoughts on Philosophy". In Shepherd, Melanie; Pence, Ellen (eds.). Coordinating Community Responses to Domestic Violence: Lessons from Duluth and Beyond. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage. pp. 29–30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Power and Control Film". Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America. Retrieved 31 March 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Ellen Pence; Michael Paymar (1993). Education Groups for Men Who Batter: The Duluth Model. Springer Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-8261-7990-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Donald G Dutton (2006). Rethinking Domestic Violence. UBC Press. ISBN 978-0-7748-5987-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; review by Walter S. DeKeseredy in Canadian Journal of Sociology Online November – December 2007
  • Muslim Wheel of Domestic Violence a variation of the Duluth Power and Control Wheel

External links