Our Number One Priority is Victim Safety.
If your partner or former partner is in the program...
You may be relieved that he is getting help. It is important to know that there are no miracle cures for his violence, he is the only one who can make the decision to change.
The progress will depend on him recognizing he has a problem and having a willingness to work hard on it for a long time--without expecting rewards or support from his victim for his efforts. Change does not occur overnight, if it occurs at all, and many men drop out along the way. Long term improvement in behavior is more likely for a man completes the one year program.
He chose to use violence and it can only be his choice not to use violence.
What happens in the program?
The primary objective is to help ensure the safety of women, their children and other victims of battery. The participants meet, along with two facilators, once a week for two hours for the minimum of 52 weeks.
During this time the men are asked to look at the choices they made to be violent and discover their beliefs that gave them permission to do so.
Program goals include:
Learning to identify his abusive behaviors and non-violent alternatives.
Identifying his core beliefs that gave him permission to be abusive.
Stopping all his abusive behavior toward his partner and/or children.
Ceasing to blame his partner, children, drugs and/or alcohol for his choices.
I think he has really changed.
You are one of the best judges of whether he is changing or not. Trust your gut feelings, regardless of other signs or what he may say. Some things to look for are:
He has completely stopped saying and doing things that frighten you.
You can express yourself without being punished for it.
You can safely bring up topics that used to upset him in the past.
He can listen to your opinions and show respect even when he disagrees.
He respects your boundaries about sex and physical contact.
You can spend time with your friends and family or alone without fear of retaliation.
You are comfortable leaving your children alone with him.
He takes responsibility for his actions without pointing blame elsewhere.
Should we try couples counseling?
No. Couples counseling allows him to stay focused on his criticisms of you, instead of confronting his own problems. He may even retaliate against you physically or verbally for what you say to the counselor. You may also be put under pressure to give up certain things that are important to you in return for him giving up his violence.
Abuse is a choice the abuser makes, not a problem in the relationship.
Is he violent because he drinks?
No. Alcohol does not cause a man to be abusive. It just gives him a convenient excuse. If he is violent and uses alcohol, he has two separate problems. A substance abuse abuser is often particularly dangerous. He will have to be clean and sober in order to make any meaningful changes in his choice to use violence.
Is someone you love in an abusive relationship?
It can be hard to know exactly what to say or how to ask when you suspect someone is in an abusive relationship. Whether it is physical, emotional or you have any concern about the lack of equality or safety in the relationship, it is OK to ask.. There are some great pieces of literature out there and local resources to help you too. Click HERE for a free helpful download.
Here are a few tips to help you be supportive;
LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGMENT OR SOLUTIONS.
This may seem easy but can actually be the most important thing you do. Her reality may seem like a nightmare to you but it is just her reality and one that she needs to believe she has some control over.
You may be friends with or enjoy the company of the abuser. Most likely she knows this and is afraid no one will believe what she sees when no one else is around.
Refrain from pointing out his flaws or your opinion about him. This will only put her in a position of defending him and may make you a unsafe person to talk with. Also, most victims will return to their abuser, on average 7 times, before successfully leaving. Instead, talk about how wonderful and strong and deserving of love and safety you believe her to be. The goal is to empower her to make her own decision to leave.
ASK HOW SHE WOULD LIKE HELP.
She may just want to talk and that's OK. She may need you to be a part of her safety plan or help with resources such as money, a vehicle, a babysitter, a place to hide a get-away bag or a friend to go with her to a shelter or police. Just be prepared to support her, again without judgement or solution.
Please go to our COMMUNITY page to get a list of local resources.
Talking to a domestic violence advocate is always free, confidential and comes without obligations.