Domestic Violence Treatment Option project

Domestic Violence Treatment Option project PDF Version (707 KB)

ISBN: PS4-42/4-2007

Table of contents

The Domestic Violence Treatment Option court (DVTO) was created in 2000 as a response to the high rates of domestic violence, the victimization First Nations felt from the criminal justice system and the sense that many victims were not reporting domestic violence to police.

The Domestic Violence Treatment Option (DVTO) in Yukon, Whitehorse is a specialized court and treatment program for dealing with domestic violence cases. The DVTO court sought to engage multiple stakeholders, including police, probation officers, a specialized Crown attorney, victim services and women's groups.

For cases of spousal or partner violence, it represented a compre-hensive intervention system rather than traditional sentencing in a criminal court. The DVTO also provided the offender and, indirectly, the victim with an opportunity to choose a Spousal Abuse Program (SAP).

The SAP provided treatment to assist men and women change their abusive attitudes and behaviours. The treatment program consisted of ten weeks of group therapy held twice a week for two hours. It was followed by six weeks of aftercare. In addition to helping offenders examine the underlying factors behind their abusive actions, the treatment program taught clients new skills for preventing and reducing the violence.

There were three groups that went through the SAP:

The goals of the project were to:

Project assessment

A process and outcome evaluation was conducted. Comparisons were drawn between the three groups who went through the Spousal Abuse Program.

Re-assault rates of these groups were compared with studies on domestic violence courts conducted by Palmer (1992) and Gondolf (2001). During the evaluation period, 318 clients were involved in the DVTO. Follow-up reports of re-offences continued until the end of the project using a variety of police information systems. A combination of methodologies and techniques were used including observation, standardized instruments, program forms/information systems and data from other agencies that provide, directly or indirectly, domestic violence services.

Key findings

The process evaluation indicated that:

The outcome evaluation indicated that:

Lessons learned

Important lessons learned included:


The positive results from the evaluation support the DVTO model and suggest that a specialized court is a good alternative to the traditional court system in the Whitehorse region.

The DVTO model, which combines a comprehensive justice system approach with a treatment program for batterers, provides a promising model for dealing with offenders and victims of domestic violence.

For more information or to receive a copy of the final evaluation report please contact the National Crime Prevention Centre at 1-800-830-3118.

Or visit the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family's website.

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