Domestic abuse is an issue that has apparent negative consequences for its victim, and the first instinct of most people is to protect the victim from the perpetrator. That is a perfectly rational and necessary thing to do, but there are usually deeper problems lurking below the surface. There is a multitude of reasons why a perpetrator might inflict violence on their intimate partner or family member, and many of these reasons serve to justify and explain that behavior.
The creation of an effective treatment program involves testing it on actual batterers. For these tests, several study design types can be chosen, such as pre-experimental, quasi-experimental, and experimental. A pre-experimental study is very simple, and it does not involve a control group. An example of a pre-experimental study for batterer treatment would be to randomly pick people convicted of battery, divide them into two groups, assign CBT-based individual therapy to one of them, and measure recidivism rates a year after completing the experimental treatment. That design is somewhat ineffective, but it can be used for testing a catch-all solution quickly and without precision.
A quasi-experimental design is more rigorous, but its sampling technique may confound the results. However, that design is very appropriate to the batterer treatment context, because batterers have been shown to belong to four broad groups depending on the severity of abuse, primary targets, and antisocial tendencies (Carbajosa, P., Catalá-Miñana, A., Lila, M., & Gracia, 2017). Dividing a sample of batterers into these four groups and testing an experimental therapy on each can determine how effective the treatment is for each group.
A true experimental design samples the respondents as randomly as possible, divides them into two groups, and assesses their characteristics before the treatment is applied. Then one of the groups is chosen to be the control group, and the other receives a treatment. For this study, a control group can undergo a traditional Duluth program instead of the experimental individual therapy program. That approach would assess the experimental treatment’s efficacy as opposed to a reasonably similar exercise.
Carbajosa, P., Catalá-Miñana, A., Lila, M., & Gracia, E. (2017). Differences in treatment adherence, program completion, and recidivism among batterer subtypes. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context, 9(2), 93–101.