Recovery from domestic violence is possible for everyone

By Marie Romeo | Oct 18, 2016
Photo by: File

Six months ago, when Anthony (not his real name) walked through the door at Meridian Behavioral Health Services, he felt as if his life was unraveling.

His wife had taken out a protective order against him due to his use of threats and violence against her and their children. At the Protective Order hearing, Anthony was ordered to attend the Domestic Violence Intervention Program (DVIP) offered at Meridian. Anthony was reluctant, but he did want things to be different.

It was challenging for Anthony to look at his patterns of using violence. Violence in families comes from long-standing beliefs about how men are supposed to treat women; beliefs that often have been passed down for generations.

In group therapy, peers provided support and insight, as Anthony addressed his use of violence, possibly for the first time in his life. In the DVIP, men work on understanding how patterns of violent actions hurt their loved ones and how to accept responsibility for them.

Group treatment provides the opportunity to practice communicating in a non-violent, non-threatening way, and is the foundation for recovery. Individuals graduate from Meridian’s DVIP on an ongoing basis, demonstrating that “recovery is possible for everyone.”

Recovery is at  the core of Meridian Behavioral Health Services, as it hosts many community based programs provided through the values of equality, respect, love and self-determination.

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program is only one of Meridian’s programs. Certified as a Batterers’ Intervention Program (BIP) by the North Carolina Council for Women, the DVIP program serves all seven western counties, including Haywood, and groups are always in the process of forming.

Meridian’s DVIP is a six-month intensive program that focuses on education of and recovery for individuals who have used violence.

The DVIP at Meridian defines domestic violence as a pattern of behavior where one partner coerces, dominates or isolates the other partner. It is the use of any form of power to gain or maintain control over the partner or relationship. This is usually done through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of physical violence.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States per year. This equates to more than 10 million women and men.”

It is estimated that between 3-10 million children in the United States witness domestic violence in their homes every year. Whether or not children are physically abused, they often suffer emotional and psychological trauma from living in homes where violence is present.

The DVIP is a member of the Haywood County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Task Force, which focuses on addressing community safety along with the Haywood County Justice System, REACH of Haywood County and other local organizations.

For anyone experiencing domestic or sexual violence, free services are available from REACH of Haywood County via its 24-hour Helpline at 465-7898; or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

For more information about Meridian Behavioral Health Services, including the Domestic Violence Intervention program, call 631-3973.

Marie Romeo works at Meridian Behavioral Health Services with the Haywood County Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Task Force.