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For Friends, Family and Supporters

In order for the abuse to stop, those who abuse physically or sexually must be held accountable for their behavior. One way to encourage accountability is by finding a treatment program for the person you care about. Family members and friends can learn about the counseling services that are available and share this information with a family member, colleague, or friend. Check out these tips.

To access this kind of help, it may mean reporting the abuse to police or child protective services. For every situation, the response will be a little different (e.g., depending upon the age of the person abusing, the age of the victim, the kind of abuse that is being perpetrated, etc.)

However, if you feel that someone’s life is in danger or that the abuse has happened more than once, find a safe place to go, a safe place to call, and do not be afraid of calling the police. Members of the police are trained to work with individuals and families facing violence.

If you know someone who may be a victim, you can start by learning more about the issues and what resources are available. Be patient and remember that change is usually a slow process. It is important to honor the choices that they make and provide support as best you can, even if you don’t agree. Check out these tips.

Consider channeling your concern by getting involved in prevention efforts at the community level as a way to join our efforts to end sexual and domestic violence.

Accountability for Abusers

Ever wonder what happens at a Batterer Intervention Program?  This article by David Adams, Ed. D., and Susan Cayouette, Ed. D., the Co-Directors of EMERGE, outlines the goals, services, and practices of abuser education programs.



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Read our latest newsletter: February 2017.


"Jane Doe Inc. keeps us grounded in the current policy developments, information, and emerging topics in domestic and sexual violence. Through their system change work and government relations, they rise our voice and share survivors’ concerns and needs. I can’t imagine leading a local agency without the support and expertise that I receive as a member of JDI. " ~ Marianne Winters - Executive Director at Safe Passage Inc.

For those who abuse

If you are or think you might be at risk to sexually, emotionally, or physically abuse another person, there are sources of help that can help you understand your behavior and prevent you from hurting others.

If you are abusing (or at risk to abuse) or if you are concerned by the behaviors of someone you know, we’re glad you are interested in learning more about what you can do to help stop abusive behavior. There are programs and resources that offer information, help, treatment, and support for living a safe life in your home, your family, and your community.

Deciding to change is the first step! When people who abuse take responsibility for their behaviors, they can access help more easily and more successfully. It takes support to turn this decision into a commitment. It takes a commitment to learn healthy boundaries, respect others, have healthy relationships, and stop being abusive.

For those who sexually abuse or are at risk to do so

There is not one way to intervene with adults who sexually abuse or with adolescents or even children with sexual behavior problems. A trained professional must first do a comprehensive assessment and then develop a plan of action specific to that person. The best time to seek help is before anyone has been harmed. If someone has been sexually abused, the case may need to go through the criminal justice system. But even if you are involved in the criminal justice system, it is possible to seek help before any further harm is done. Resources are listed at the bottom of the page with information about assessment and treatment as well as referrals for anyone who wants to stop or prevent incidents of sexual abuse.

For those who have been or are at risk of abusing a dating partner or spouse

Take it seriously if you are being physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally or otherwise abusive to a dating partner or spouse either currently or in the past. People who abuse can seek help voluntarily or be mandated by the courts to participate in an Initimate Partner Abuse Education Program (formerly called batterer intervention). These programs work with people who abuse to adopt respectful and non-abusive attitudes and behaviors toward their intimate partners and children. Through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), you can find the current list of certified treatment programs in Massachusetts.

Things you should know:

  • Safety is paramount: Only you can take the steps you need to stop being abusive and seek help to create a safer environment for yourself and/or your family. If you are committed to change, you can work with professionals who can help you develop a plan that works for you. Ultimately, being violent meets no needs and ultimately leaves you feeling bad about yourself, alienated from people you care about, and in trouble with the law.
  • Change requires help: You may be promising your current or former partner that you will change. Our experience shows that once a person begins to be abusive, the problem will not go away unless there is individual and/or community intervention and support. You are not alone. It is important to pay attention to the warning signs of abusive behavior and develop realistic and effective strategies to stop yourself from abusing. You will need help to do this. {link to warning signs page for both SA and DV}. It’s not fair to your partner, your children, loved ones, and others to continue to hurt them. They need you to take the first step to reach out for help.
  • Couples counseling and mediation programs will not resolve violence: As long as the violence remains a significant threat, couples and families cannot safely be treated together in counseling or through mediation. However, once you have completed the assessment and treatment process and the victim/survivor agrees to engage in a process, counseling with a trained professional may help to resolve some underlying or associated issues.
  • Sexual and domestic violence are not about anger:  Anger is a normal and healthy emotion, and it does not cause abuse. Anger is also never an excuse for violence or abuse. We all get angry at times, but abuse is a choice to be manipulative, threatening or physically violent to gain power and control over another individual. For this reason, general anger management programs are no substitute for a specialized domestic violence offender program.
  • Mental illness and substance abuse are not excusses for abuse: While people with mental illness or whose judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol do commit sexual assault, rape, battering, or other abusing behaviors, these are not excuses or explanations for the violence.

Resources for more information and intervention and educational services for those who abuse 


Intimate Parter Abuse Education Program (formerly known as Batterer's Intervention Services) in Massachusetts

MASOC (Massachusetts Adolescent Sex Offender Coalition)

MATSA (Massachusetts Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers)

ATSA (Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers – national)

NEARI Press (New England Adolescent Research Institute)

Safer Society Foundation

Stop It Now

Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board
The Sex Offender Registry provides information but is not the same as prevention: The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) manages the Sex Offender Registry. The Registry (SOR) includes only a small number of convicted sex offenders, and not all who are registered are visible to the general public. Many sex offenders are never reported, charged and/or ultimately required to receive treatment or required to register as Sex Offenders. The SOR may help you identify who is a registered offender, but cannot identify who is not.

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