Local authority speaks out on domestic violence

By From page A1 | October 18, 2017

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but for victims physically abused by an intimate partner it can be a daily way of life — a nightmare that never ends.

Unless it does, which is the goal of organizations such as the Center for Violence Free Relationships.

The Center’s Executive Director Matt Huckabay recently talked about supporting behavior change among people who harm during a Facebook live stream facilitated by the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

Addressing social norms and experiences that might contribute to someone causing harm in a relationship, Huckabay said, “Social norms really are primarily stemming from a belief in patriarchy. Understand that this is a male-dominated society and that men need to behave a certain way, act a certain way and be in control in a certain way and that there is a role for women within that system.

“However, the role for women is very different. And within that system then comes some of those societal norms and belief systems,” he continued, noting there are a host of them, including a solid belief in rigid stereotypes.

“When it comes to working with this particular population, we like to focus more on their experiences, because it is our belief that it is their personal life experiences that really have a significant impact and influence on how they show up as adults in our world,” Huckabay added.

Childhood experiences bleed into adulthood

A study by the Kaiser Foundation and Dr. Vincent Felitti shows direct correlations between the number of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and long-term mental and physical health outcomes, he said, referring to the ability to have relationships, to effectively communicate and so forth.

The higher an individual’s ACE score, the more damage that has been done to them that will cause long-term problems as they age, the study states. “So much so that with a score of 6 or over, you have a shortened life expectancy by about 20 years. That is a significant impact (which shows that) what happens to us as kids, influences us as adults,” Huckabay said.

The solution?

With the exception of about 10 to 15 percent of the population — sociopaths, active substance abusers or people with unchecked mental health issues, for example — the Center’s 52-week program can help.

Program participants — whether they are mandated to be there or sign up voluntarily — first need to understand what an unhealthy or abusive relationship looks like. If they don’t understand their behavior, there is no way it can be changed.

Secondly, the program aims to help people understand where their abusive behavior comes from. For example, Huckabay said, “Why am I showing up in the world this way? What is it about me that I do these things, yet my friend over there doesn’t do these things, or even siblings from the same household? Once they can make those connections, we then have to give them tools — a way to show up differently.”

Learning by example

Bad things can happen in families and children see those things and learn them, he said, referring to power strategies used to get control over someone.

“So I am a little kid and I see Dad yells at Mom, (then) Mom does what Dad wants. My older brother wants me out of my room, so he pushes me out of the room and gets what he wants. I yell at my little sister and she stops doing what I don’t want her to do and starts doing what I do want her to do. The dog is annoying me so I kick the dog and the dog stops doing what I don’t want it to do and starts doing what I do want it to do. So our kids in these homes learn all these behaviors and while they are learning and experiencing this themselves, they are looking around and nobody is saying, ‘Hey that’s not cool. That’s not the way to do it; here’s another way,’” Huckabay said.

As these children grow into adults they take these behaviors with them. They start dating, they have relationships and they use the same tactics and strategies because they work and they get their needs met this way until something happens to them where an institution that has more power than them, i.e. law enforcement, intervenes, he explained.

Enter the Center

The Center’s job is to teach participants how to replace their old, bad behaviors with healthy ones — arming them with new tools.

“The more and more they use the new tools, the old ones become less and less dominant and then they have the ability to show up differently in the world, should they choose,” Huckabay said.

The tool participants relate to and utilize the most is “time out.”

“You can’t change who you are but you can change your behavior,” he said.

Nationwide 10 million people a year are victims of domestic violence, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence and emotional abuse,” states information on the NCADV website.

Domestic violence affects people in all walks of life — regardless of age, gender, economic status, race or religion.

“Abuse may begin with behaviors that may easily be dismissed or downplayed such as name-calling, threats, possessiveness or distrust. Abusers may apologize profusely for their actions or try to convince the person they are abusing that they do these things out of love or care,” the information states. “However, violence and control always intensifies over time with an abuser, despite the apologies. What may start out as something that was first believed to be harmless, for example, wanting the victim to spend all their time only with them because they love them so much, escalates into extreme control and abuse,” NCADV states.

Red flags, there are many, but Huckabay offers this one: “If people want to measure the health of their relationship, the easiest way is to measure the balance of power inside the relationship. What I mean by that is, who is making most of the decisions? Who decides how we spend money? Who decides what movie we see? If one person is acquiescing most of the time, that is a power differential that may be a concern.”

To learn more about programs and services offered by the Center for Violence Free Relationships call (530) 626-1450.

For general information about domestic violence visit

For anonymous, confidential help 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

Special to Village Life

Discussion | 1 comment

  • Christina padovaniOctober 21, 2017 - 1:25 pm

    Nice article. Perhaps you should write about the negative effects of local government agencies submited false medical reports to secure federal securities linked to the agencies. Write about the various complaints dismissed by local agencies so they may cover their tracks. I do not trust any government agencies especially in the El Dorado justice system. What ever happened to transparency. These agencies are ran as corporations they do not care except to line the pockets of the security holders.



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