Emerge Essay

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Emerge is an international training and resource center on domestic violence. Founded in 1977 in Boston, it was the world’s first batterer intervention program. The initial emphasis of the battered women’s movement in the United States and globally had been on calling attention to domestic violence, redefining it as a crime against women, and promoting safety and justice for women. But many victim advocates argued that men must join women in this effort, not only to communicate that violence against women is a human rights issue of equal importance to men, but also to play a unique role in educating and confronting men who abuse women. Emerge was established at the behest of women who had founded the first battered women’s programs in Boston. Hotline staff at Transition House and Respond were receiving an increasing number of calls from batterers. Since it was not their mission to work with abusive men, staff from these programs publicized a request for men to establish a program for abusers. Nearly all of the 10 men who founded Emerge were friends or relatives of workers at local battered women’s programs. While most were social workers or counselors, the others included a teacher, a community organizer, a lawyer, and a cab driver.

Emerge has remained on the cutting edge of change in terms of its innovative intervention model for abusers, its annual trainings and consultations to hundreds of other agencies and institutions, and its efforts to influence public policy on the local, state, and national levels. Emerge has pioneered culturally specific interventions for abusers, beginning with the establishment of groups for Latino men in 1985, African American men in 1990, and Vietnamese and Cambodian men in 1993. During the 1990s Emerge also created specialized groups for lesbians as well as gay men. All of these culturally specific programs have been accompanied by specialized outreach and education collaborations.

In 1986, Emerge created groups for teen offenders, and together with Transition House, founded the Dating Violence Intervention Project. Emerge subsequently established the Responsible Fatherhood Program, a parenting education program geared to abusive men. These groups seek to help men rebuild trust with children who have witnessed their violence, and to become more responsible coparents.

Emerge has continuously sought to help create more coordinated and effective criminal justice responses to domestic violence. With federal funding, Emerge has provided national trainings on domestic violence danger assessment and safety planning since 1998, and developed danger assessment tools. Emerge has also helped to create innovative collaborations with social service programs, religious centers, child welfare agencies, and health care providers to better address and to prevent domestic violence.


  1. Adams, D., & Cayouette, S. (2002.) Emerge: A group model for abusers. In E. Aldarondo & F. Mederos (Eds.), Programs for men who batter: Intervention and prevention strategies in a diverse society (pp. 1–31). Kingston, NY: Civic Research Institute.
  2. Domestic violence danger assessment and safety planning [Interactive training DVD]. Available at http://www.emergedv.com
  3. Schechter, S. (1982). Women and male violence: The visions and struggles of the battered women’s movement. Boston: South End Press.

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