Abusive and Abused Men in Violent Domestic Partnerships: An International Review


In 2017, an inter-ministerial committee for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence (hereinafter, the Committee) was appointed with the aim of dealing thoroughly and systematically with the widespread, dangerous phenomenon of domestic violence. The Committee was divided into subcommittees with representatives of government ministries and local government, which drew up recommendations and developed an inter-ministerial program for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence (hereinafter the National Program). In March 2017, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services (MOLSA) submitted an operative plan of action to the Ministerial Committee to Combat Violence to carry out the Committee’s recommendations and implement the National Program.

The National Program’s subcommittee on the treatment of men found gaps in the level and extent of knowledge available to the services for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence. It also found there was insufficient information about standards for treating abusive and abused men in domestic partnerships and for the best practices in treatment. Therefore, the National Program and MOLSA’s Research Division commissioned the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute to prepare an international review on the subject.

Goals of the Review

The purpose of the review is to broaden policymakers’ and professionals’ knowledge and understanding of the accumulated experience of dealing with abusive and abused men in domestic partnerships in other countries. The review also aims to help the Committee develop policy and services in Israel.


A review of English-language academic articles in peer-reviewed journals and publications on websites that have appeared over past two decades. The material was collected between April and August 2020. Since there are relatively few cases in which men are abused by women in domestic violence, and cases of mutual abuse, the review focuses on abusive men.

Chapters in the Review

The review opens with a chapter on Models for identifying abusive and abused men. These models usually identify violent men through the abused women via various health services, with the help of specially trained teams. The next chapter – Recruiting men for treatment – is about expanding the ways of recruiting men for a course of treatment, and reviews a few proposals for tackling the task: the motivational approach to changing problematic behavior, a marketing campaign for a “hot line” for men, training professional staff, etc. The chapter Treating violence between spouses: Models for inter-organizational coordination and integration discusses the need and importance of coordinating multidisciplinary treatment of violence. The chapter presents models for integration and coordination among the health services, the law enforcement system and a multidisciplinary team. The next chapter, Violence between spouses: Intervention programs for abusive men, presents the main approaches to treating violence in domestic partnerships, common characteristics of key treatment programs, and factors and methods that have been found effective in treating abusive men. The chapter also discusses dropout from treatment. The next chapter, Models for preventing recidivism during and after treatment discusses the high rate of recurrence of abuse in domestic partnerships, factors associated with it, and tools that have been found to be effective in reducing it. The following chapter, Adapting treatment to the characteristics of the client and the service, discusses the holistic approach to treatment, which is individually adapted to the needs and characteristics of the client, specifically for special populations. The following chapter, Ways of measuring intervention programs and their outcomes presents the challenges of such measurement as well as examples of validated tools for measuring the level of risk of violence between spouses and assessing the effect of violence prevention programs. The final chapter in the review, Treatment of male victims of violence in domestic partnerships looks at male victims of violence, their reticence to seek treatment, and methods of treatment that have been found to be effective.

The review concludes with recommended programmatic directions.