Domestic abuse intervention program: Why work with abusers?

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An abuser treatment program seems like an odd service for a domestic abuse shelter to offer, but is it really? A consistent phenomenon Steps to HOPE has noted is a victim’s desire to return to the abuser and attempt to rebuild the relationship, even among the most severely abused victims.
While helping victims stay safe is paramount, working to change the abusers’ behavior is the key to victims’ long-term safety. This was the impetus for facilitation of the first abuser treatment program at Steps to HOPE some 13 years ago, which has since evolved into a 26-week program. Today’s referrals of both men and women originate from the public defender, DSS, probation and the court or are voluntary.
To understand why individuals abuse their partners or other family members, Steps to HOPE listens to members of the domestic abuse intervention program reflect on their past experiences of trauma as a child, exposure to domestic violence, feelings of fright and sense of helplessness. Often, the same behaviors the group participants witnessed as a child become imprinted messages about how adults act.
Steps to HOPE’s Domestic Abuse Intervention Program (DAIP) attempts to help participants, male or female, recognize, acknowledge and take responsibility for their behaviors while challenging their thinking patterns and defenses.
The program also teaches participants in its three groups, two male and one female, vital tools such as empathy and creating a safe environment for their family through curriculum material, individual introspection and extensive group participation.
The goal of DAIP is to stop all abuse, whether physical, verbal, sexual or mental. For more information, contact Ruth Richardson at Steps to HOPE, 894-2340.
– articled submitted by Debra Backus

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