In the period from January 1998 until December 1999 the WiBIG team evaluated the cooperation and coordination process of the Berlin Intervention Project Against Domestic Violence (BIG), assessing its achievements. Besides BIG, a number of other intervention projects throughout Germany as well as abroad were included in the study. The present work January 2000 to December 2002 builds on the published results of this first phase of research.

Violence in Marriage and Relationships

Violence continues to be part of the everyday life of many women and their children in the Federal Republic of Germany as it is elsewhere. There are at present no exact numbers on the prevalence of violence in marriage and intimate relationships. Only a fraction of these acts of violence become public. Each year, about 45,000 battered women and their children escape into one of the aproximately 400 women’s shelters and other places of refuge. The violence occurs in all social classes, it is for the most part not followed by any sanction and usually has no further consequences for the perpetrator. After more than 20 years of battered women’s shelters, it is time to try new aproaches to reducing the violence and supporting women in situations of victimization. This is done primarily through intervention projects.

Domestic Violence

Most violence in marriage or within relationships is carried out by men against women in the supposedly safe haven of their own home. The term “domestic violence” encompasses all forms of physical, sexual, psychological, social and emotional violence between adults who live or have lived together in close relationships.

Intervention Projects against Domestic Violence

Intervention projects are institutionalized networks for inter-agency and community cooperation. Since the middle of the nineties, the number of such projects in Germany has been steadily growing. They differ in size, structure and focus, but in the end all pursue the same objectives: Their goal is to reduce violence against women by intervening to prevent its continuation and to ensure social condemnation of this violence; they work to hold the perpetrators of violence systematically accountable as well as to optimize intervention and support for the women and their children.

These far-reaching goals are implemented through cooperation forums, which aim to include all institutions, agencies, projects and professions that work to overcome domestic violence or carry a social responsibility for addressing it, such as women’s shelters, women’s counseling services, the police, justice practitioners, men’s counseling services, child protection agencies, ministries, and local governments. In addition to a central round table and a coordination office, there are often different working groups of specialists. They coordinate procedures, improve guidelines, and explore the latitude for legal action, in order to make intervention in cases of domestic violence more effective for the victims. The work is interdisciplinary, inter-institutional, binding and based on the principle of equality.

Evaluation of Intervention Projects against Domestic Violence

Nine intervention projects on domestic violence in particular are the subject of comparative analysis:

Central dimensions for comparison are differing approaches in urban and rural areas, the organization of coordination at the state, district and local level, as well as the different experiences and results of long established networks as compared to newly founded model projects. In addition, the intervention projects and intervention centers differ in their goals and definitions of their tasks, as well as in their development of batterers’ programs.

Research Questions:

The main task for evaluation research is a comparative analysis of the conceptual foundations and the process of implementation of intervention projects in the Federal Republic of Germany. The evaluation focuses on the following aspects:

The local and regional conditions that promote or hinder the work of intervention projects and intervention centers and that have shaped their respective specific composition and structure.

The procedures and policies that have been shown to be especially successful in the given circumstances, their evaluation by those involved and the assessment of their transferability. Within this context, we examine, among other things, which policies have turned out to be especially advisable for an urban or rural setting.

The conditions of inter-institutional cooperation, i.e. the ways in which agreement on changing procedures regarding domestic violence was achieved and implemented, which modifications were made during the course of the project, which goals were achieved and how the participants assessed these achievements.

The research will also study the philosophy and effectiveness of programs for men who are violent towards their partners, as well as the planned legal changes in the area of domestic violence and their implementation. Evaluation of training courses for batterers within the framework of intervention projects began in the spring of 2001.

Evaluation Policy and Methodology

Starting point of the evaluation is the practice of the different intervention projects against domestic violence: the development of their policies, the cooperation process and the accompanying changes both in the situation of women suffering domestic violence as well as in the response of society. Thus, the research maintains close contact with the practitioners in a process of formative evaluation with feedback into practice.

The methodology is primarily qualitative, using instruments such as semi-structured interviews with coordinators and experts of the different projects, group discussions with the coordination teams and experts as well as participatory observation in selected committees of cooperation.

Publications

Volume 1 of the evaluation report on the Intervention Project against Domestic Violence in Berlin (BIG) “Models of Cooperation against Domestic Violence” (Modelle der Kooperation gegen häusliche Gewalt) has been published as volume 193 in the series of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Young People (BMFSFJ)

Volume 2 of the report “Training for Intervention Against Domestic Violence – Training for Police Officers and Justice Practitioners. Results of the Evaluation” (Fortbildungen für die Intervention bei häuslicher Gewalt) Fortbildungen für Polizeiangehörige sowie Juristinnen und Juristen. Ergebnisse der Evaluation durch die wissenschaftliche Begleitung) has been published as volume 193.1 in the series of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Young People (BMFSFJ)

Documentation of the workshop “Children and Domestic Violence – Experiences from Germany, Sweden and Great Britain” (Kinder und häusliche Gewalt – Erfahrungen aus Deutschland, Schweden und Großbritannien) carried out by WiBIG 1/99, available from the Berlin office (€ 3,60 in stamps)