Domestic Violence—Can Abusers Really Reform?


The video of Ray Rice assaulting the woman who is now his wife has received a lot of attention. It raises the question whether someone like this can be treated and reform so as to have a happy, normal relationship. Retired Judge Eugene Hyman discusses the matter, which is also the subject of a recent Wall Street Journal article.

Judge Eugene Hyman

Judge Eugene Hyman

Some offenders need multiple treatment regimens in order to change their behavior. Others never succeed. Judge Hyman believes that the studies showing favorable outcomes in treating people with abusive behavior need to be taken with a grain of salt. “Give me a substance abuser anytime. That person is much easier to treat.” Judge Hyman’s experience suggests that people prone to domestic violence are much harder to treat successfully.

The studies cited in the Wall Street Journal article are based upon people who successfully complete a program. The problem, says Judge Hyman, is that people who enter these domestic violence treatment programs often don’t complete them. Those people are reoffending at a high rate.

The problem seems to be to get people to complete these programs. Judge Hyman says that completion must be court-ordered if there is to be any realistic hope of success. There also needs to be follow-up, the judge says. The problem will surely not go away. The NFL is now struggling to get on top of it, as is the NBA. Domestic violence in the NFL is the subject of another Legal Broadcast Network report.

Honorable Judge Eugene Hyman has received numerous awards and recognition for his work with families and children and has appeared on numerous television news shows. For more information, visit www.judgehyman.com. He is also a featured commentator on The Family Law Channel and The Legal Broadcast Network. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.