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The Duluth Model or Domestic Abuse Intervention Project is a program developed to reduce domestic violence.[1] The Duluth model was developed by Minnesota Program Development, Inc., a nonprofit agency in Duluth, Minnesota. The program was mostly founded by social activist Ellen Pence.

Origin and Theory

The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project was the first multi-disciplinary program designed to address the issue of domestic violence. This experimental program, conducted in Duluth in 1981, coordinated the actions of a variety of agencies dealing with domestic conflict. The program has become a model for programs in other jurisdictions seeking to deal more effectively with domestic violence.

According to the Duluth Model, "women and children, and some men are vulnerable to violence because of their unequal social, economic, and political status in society."

The Duluth Model is based on a strict "violence is patriarchal" model, and assumes that all domestic violence in the home and elsewhere is perpetrated by men on women victims. The model focuses on the men's use of violence in abusive relationships, rather than on the behavior of all parties concerned. This helps the men to focus on changing their personal behavior in order to be nonviolent in any relationship. The Duluth Model originated the Duluth Power and Control Wheel.


A nationwide study published in 2002 sponsored by the federal government found that batterers who complete programs based on the "Duluth Model," are less likely to repeat acts of domestic violence than those who don't.[2] A 2005 study led by Larry Bennett, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an expert on batterer intervention programs, of the 30 batterer intervention programs in Cook County, Illinois, found 15 percent of those who completed the program were rearrested for domestic violence, compared with 37 percent of those who dropped out of the program.[2] However, Bennett said the studies are largely meaningless because they lacked a proper control group.[2] He added that participants who complete domestic violence programs are likely to be more motivated than others to improve behavior and would be less inclined to offend again.[2]


Programs based on the Duluth Model may ignore research linking domestic violence to substance abuse and psychological problems, such as attachment disorders, traced to childhood abuse or neglect, or the absence of a history of adequate socialization and training.[2]

Donald Dutton, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia who has studied abusive personalities, states that "The Duluth Model was developed by people who didn't understand anything about therapy." He also insists that gender doesn't play a role in domestic violence.[2]

The exclusive focus on males as perpetrators and the rejection of system dynamics models has been criticised from perspectives influenced by psychology, education or remedial therapy. The fields of psychology, psychiatry, and social work all provide for application of skill learning, improved social understanding and practised behavioural mastery to provide for corrected and alternative behaviors. By contrast, the Duluth Model presents only "once an abuser, always an abuser" constructions to this important social problem. FBI crime statistics consistently indicate that 65 to 70% of all child (abuse-related) deaths occur at the hands of their mothers or female caretakers. This very broad and clear example of female initiated violence could moderate any exclusively "anti-patriarchy" model of interpersonal violence.

The Duluth program is widely used but clear evidence of success is limited. U.S. states are now recording abuse statistics relating to the marital state of both the perpetrator and the victim. In all jurisdictions with reports available, the rate of interpersonal violence for co-habiting couples exceeds that of married couples by margins approaching of ten to one.

Additionally, critics[3] argue that the Duluth model employs circular logic:

To say that abusive men are controlling because they want to be in control explains very little. It may not add useful information regarding the origins or nature of a desire to control, the conditions under which abuse may occur, or other purposes that violent behaviour might be serving for the assaultive individual.

See also


  1. University of Minnesota Duluth conceptual framework
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Twohey, Megan (2009-01-02). "How Can Domestic Violence Be Stopped?". Chicago Tribune.,0,1147422.story?page=2. Retrieved 2009-01-28.
  3. Fisher, Andy, Rick Goodwin and Mark Patton. 2009. “Men & Healing: Theory, Research, and Practice in Working with Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse.”[ ] The Men's Project, Funded by the Cornwall Public Inquiry

External links

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