LSS Brings Violence Free Program to Valley City

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Ellie Boese
The Lutheran Social Services (LSS) “Violence Free” program is aimed at ending domestic violence by utilizing a unique treatment method. This method, the Duluth Model, encourages changes in thought patterns as a way to foster shifts toward positive behavior in abusers. LSS used portions of North Dakota Department of Health grants and started Violence Free groups first in Bismarck, Minot, Williston, and Dickinson. This year, part of that grant was used to start a Violence Free group in Valley City.
This revolutionary program seeks an end to domestic violence by working with the abusers themselves, stopping violence where it starts. LSS describes it like this: “A referring agency or the court system assigns men to attend treatment groups, where they learn to accept responsibility for their actions and change existing beliefs of using violence to gain power and control over their partners.”
The Duluth Model was the brainchild of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP), which began in 1980 in Duluth, MN. DAIP organizers set out to listen to and seek to understand thoughts and behaviors from survivors and perpetrators in order to formulate processes that could successfully intervene in the cycle of abuse. Their stated mission is “to end violence against women. We give voice to diverse women who are battered by translating their experiences into innovative programs and institutional changes that centralize victim safety.”
Valley City was just recently given the opportunity to implement the program to end domestic violence, which (though always extremely important) seems particularly relevant at this time of year. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and Valley City has held a few events to bring attention to that. One of those events was a CHI-sponsored Community Forum at which attendees heard a survivor of domestic violence share her experience and local groups speak about how they are acting to end violence.
Lutheran Social Service Violence Free program director Dennis Larkin recently met with several local judges and facilitators in Valley City to let them know the program is now available and ready for referrals, which then assigns men to attend treatment groups.
In North Dakota, there were 9 domestic violence homicides in 2015. The Violence Policy Center has found that, on average, three women in the US are killed every day by current or former intimate partners. A study conducted in New York in the Bronx domestic violence court found that in a period of two years following offenders release 62% of all defendants were rearrested.
It is the aim of Violence Free groups to change these statistics with a new approach, working directly with offenders in order to reduce the prevalence of future assaults. Valley City is now better-equipped to address this world-wide issue and with more conversation, we can bring this issue into the light and make its stigma a thing of the past.
You can learn more by visiting Valley City’s APOC website. If you or someone you know needs help, call the 24-hour crisis line at 701-845-0072