EMERGE Center for Domestic Abuse

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The EMERGE Center for Domestic Abuse was founded in Massachusetts in 1977 and is the first abuser education program in the United States. The EMERGE center focuses on helping women and children in situations in which they are afraid to leave their abusive husband/partner. They also offer classes for men to learn good parenting and what it is to be a caring spouse. The Center has already expanded nationally and has created several groups across the United States that people can join and become members.

Abuser Education

Abuser Education is a core part of EMERGE in which classes are offered for education about harmful behavior in spouses. Being apart of the EMERGE abuser education group requires the members to be violence-free toward their spouses and their children. Groups vary in the different states they are located.

Abuser Education FAQ's

These are questions often asked by new members and interested onlookers.[1]

  • I'M NOT A "BATTERER." I DON'T NEED SOMETHING LIKE EMERGE, DO I? The term, "batterer," is one which often has very negative connotations. It implies repeated or severe physical violence toward a partner. Many people who might otherwise want to stop their abuse and improve their relationships shy away from Emerge or similar programs. At Emerge, there is a number of people that come to them to report never having been physically abusive, but have had an extensive history of being emotionally or verbally harmful toward their partner or family.
  • DOES ABUSER EDUCATION WORK? This question is commonly asked, but does not have a simple answer. Abuser education programs may work for those people who take the information and use it to stop harming others. A comparable question might be 'Does education and treatment for drinking and driving offenders really work?' The answer would also be similar: someone who truly wants to stop drinking will work to do so. Someone who doesn't take such services seriously is at greater risk to re-offend.
  • WHAT ARE ABUSER EDUCATION GROUPS? Abuser Education groups try to help an abuser change the harmful, abusive, controlling and violent behavior in their relationships. Abuser Education services are usually conducted in a group format during which educational material is presented and individual group members discuss their actions and are given feedback on how to change those behaviors to non-abusive ones.
  • HOW IS ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUG ABUSE DISCUSSED? Emerge does not offer substance abuse services. Anyone who comes to Emerge and is abusive and has any substance abuse issues has two things to address. During group sessions we discuss how alcohol and other drugs do not cause abuse, but may escalate it. Emerge makes referrals for substance abuse evaluations when needed, and receives reports from probation officers regarding mandated substance abuse testing.
  • WHY CAN'T I GO FOR COUPLES COUNSELING WHEN I'M IN AN ABUSER EDUCATION GROUP? Couples counseling can be dangerous if there is ongoing violence in the relationship. Therapy may bring up strong feelings. In a relationship where violence and abuse is occurring, it may make the situation much more dangerous for the victim. Couples counseling is designed for a situation in which both participants can be safe, regardless of how difficult the dialogue in the session becomes.
  • WHAT IS THE RECIDIVISM RATE FOR ABUSERS? Measuring recidivism is difficult, since there are many types of violence which are not easily tracked. Physical violence is the most measurable type of domestic violence because if often results in arrests and the event can then be quantified. However, other types of abuse, control and violence which may not be illegal are not easily quantified or tracked. Clients who come to Emerge are only here for two hours per week. Knowing what their activities are outside of group and knowing how they are being abusive after leaving Emerge is impossible to know unless they are rearrested. However, there are many forms of abuse which are not illegal.


Caring Dads Group

The Caring Dads Group focuses on the male role in the family and how they respond and act. The groups also focuses on how to become a "better father". The 12-week course is offered in both English and Spanish.

Survivor/Victim of Domestic Violence

Emerge also helps those who have survived an abusive relationship and seek refuge with the center not only to help themselves but others who might be suffering from the same thing.


EMERGE works with the Southwest Institute for Research on Women of University of Arizona in the Pima County Domestic Violence Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration project.[2]


  1. From the EMERGE website (http://www.emergedv.com/abuserfaq.html)
  2. Claudia Powell, Pima County Domestic Violence Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration, Southwest Institute for Research on Women, University of Arizona