The State of Intimate Partner Violence Intervention: Progress and Continuing Challenges

Jill Messing, Allison Ward-Lasher, Jonel Thaller, Meredith E. Bagwell-Gray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    60 Scopus citations


    Over the past 40 years, intimate partner violence (IPV) has evolved from an emerging social problem to a socially unacceptable crime. The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 encourages state policies that focus on criminal justice intervention, including mandatory arrest and prosecution. Services offered to victim-survivors of IPV are often tied to criminal justice intervention, or otherwise encourage separation. These interventions have been seen as effectively using the authority of the state to enhance women's power relative to that of abusive men. However, these interventions do not serve the needs of women who, for cultural or personal reasons, want to remain in their relationship, or marginalized women who fear the power of the state due to institutionalized violence, heterosexism, and racism. The one-size-fits-all approach that encourages prosecution and batterer intervention programs for offenders and shelter and advocacy for victim-survivors fails to adhere to the social work value of client self-determination and the practice principle of meeting clients where they are. It is imperative that social workers in all areas of practice are aware of IPV policies, services, and laws. Social workers' challenge moving forward is to develop innovative and evidence-based interventions that serve all victim-survivors of IPV.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)305-313
    Number of pages9
    JournalSocial Work (United States)
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Oct 2015


    • Violence Against Women Act
    • criminal justice
    • domestic violence
    • domestic violence services
    • intimate partner violence

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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