A new men’s group with an unusual mission will start Feb. 21 in Bangor. Called “Choice-V” the group will focus on male batterers who have been involved in serious domestic assaults locally. The acronym “Choice-V” stands for “Commitment, honesty, and openess are internal changes for ending violence.”
The eyes of the country have been focused on the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial in Los Angeles, but domestic violence happens in every community in the country. Most recently, it hit Bangor in a graphic way when a troubled seminary student shot a woman who lived in the same apartment building he did. Benjamin Marshall then pointed a shotgun at his own head and killed himself. His victim remains hospitalized.
A woman is battered every 15 seconds in the United States. In Maine, a domestic assault occurs every two hours, 20 minutes, according to the state Department of Public Safety.
People who commit domestic violence assaults often view themselves as victims and have trouble accepting responsibility for their actions, according to Warren Curtis and Mary Mahon, two licensed counselors who will lead the men’s group.
Alcohol and drug abuse often are involved in domestic-related assaults “but these don’t excuse the actions of perpetrators,” said Curtis, who owns and operates Outpatient Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Services, an organization with offices in Bangor, Ellsworth and Waterville.
The first “Choice-V” batterers’ group in Penobscot County already has been filled. It consists of 12 men referred to the program by the local probation and parole office. The members had to commit to a year of treatment as part of their probation. They will meet each Tuesday for 1 1/2 hours in an office on Franklin Street. Curtis said a second group may be started if enough referrals are obtained.
Topics to be discussed include making “I” statements instead of “she-did-this, she-did-that” statements in an attempt to get abusers to focus on themselves and their responsiblity, Mahon said. Other topics will involve listening and communication skills.