The Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence and the Commonwealth Health Center are working together to launch a program that seeks to change the behavior of domestic violence offenders.
The batterer's intervention program is a pilot program that would also require the involvement of the court by referring these persons to the program, according to coalition executive director Maisie B. Tenorio.
“Hopefully, it will change behaviors of batterers. There are different considerations between domestic and sexual batterers but on the domestic violence side, we're really trying to work with offenders to change their behavior,” said Tenorio as she addressed the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting Tuesday.
The program aims for a January 2013 launching and will have two cycles. Each cycle can accommodate 12 individuals who will be part of the program for 26 weeks.
Tenorio said the program will be a first for the CNMI and would help victims living with domestic violence.
“A lot of times, victims stay with offender or batterers,” she told Saipan Tribune “Hopefully, this would be a way to help them build stronger families and have healthy and respectful relationships.”
Tenorio noted that violence is a learned behavior, thus the need for batterers to “unlearn it” by changing behaviors and learning to make choices.
“We really emphasize that language because people are not born violent. They learn about violence in the course of their experience, in their upbringing, the things they're exposed to, the choices they make,” she explained.
In line with this year's theme for the Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October is “Choose peace, not violence,” Tenorio said there are many ways that individuals within the community have ways to choose peace to end violence in the community.
These include providing role models of healthy relationships and teaching children about the use of respectful language when talking about other people and the existence of other cultures.
“All of these communities experience violence. Not one community is more vulnerable to violence-we all are. This is our community and everyone lives here so we really have to come together to solve the issue and end domestic violence,” she said.
Another way of choosing peace is to get educated about domestic violence. “We encourage businesses to develop policies around domestic violence and work with employees who experience violence,” she added.
For more information, call 234-3878.