SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane has a treatment program for domestic abusers that aims to stop the cycle of violence.
Domestic violence affects one in four women in our community and one in seven men. Both police and victim advocates will tell you more resources in our community to combat the problem.
Treatment options for domestic abusers do exist here in Spokane. Steve Floyd is the program manager and certified domestic violence counselor for the STOP Program. He said the program deals with substance abuse issues and treatment for domestic violence perpetrators.
"What we're trying to do is identify the irrational beliefs, the habits, the personality traits, that have been developed since they were kids," Floyd said.
STOP is an outpatient program where domestic violence offenders are assessed and connected with services to help stop the cycle of abuse. An offender can be court ordered to go through the program but Floyd said that usually does not happen until someone has been arrested for domestic violence multiple times.
“It shouldn’t take domestic violence arrest number two or number three to finally implement intervention,” Floyd explained.
Floyd believes offenders should have to go through the treatment program after their first arrest to prevent them from becoming a habitual domestic violence abuser.
"We have almost 100 people in our counseling program currently, but if you compare that to the number of 911 calls in our community. We think that's way too low," he said.
As part of the treatment program, offenders also have to sit through a victim impact panel and listen to stories of someone who has survived domestic violence. Through education, the program aims to help abusers change their behavior.
"A large amount of our offenders don't like their behavior either. They just have not been taught, they don't know any skills of how to communicate effectively, how to share feelings, how to resolve conflict appropriately," Floyd said.
Although the success of the program is hard to measure, Floyd said very few offenders who have been through the program end up back in the system.