New research compares two treatment programs for men convicted of domestic violence.

The study finds that men convicted of domestic violence were charged with significantly fewer violent and nonviolent charges one year after completing a treatment program developed in Iowa compared to a model used in most other states.

Survey data from victims still in contact with the men provided preliminary evidence that the local intervention may also reduce behaviors like physical aggression, controlling behaviors, and stalking.

The findings come from the first randomized controlled trial comparing an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) based program used by the Iowa Department of Corrections with the Duluth Model Men’s Nonviolence Classes.

Amie Zarling, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State University, led the study, which appears in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

“I’ve waited more than a decade to do this study. Randomized controlled trials are the gold standard method for evaluating program efficacy but are very difficult to implement properly, especially in real-world settings,” says Zarling. “The results suggest that the ACT-based program is an effective treatment for reducing criminal behavior, and most importantly, that the women who are survivors of the domestic violence report that the man who caused harm has significantly decreased his abusive behavior because of the ACT program.”

A 2015 survey from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one in three women in the US had experienced intimate partner violence. This includes physical and sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression (e.g., coercive tactics). However, experts say domestic violence is chronically underreported, so even this striking number does not represent the full extent of domestic abuse.

Read the full article about ACT for domestic abusers by Rachel Cramer at Futurity.