New tool for tackling domestic violence coming to Cape Girardeau, MO

Batterer's intervention program

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Police say domestic violence is a continuing problem for many parts of the Heartland, but a new class has a unique way to address the root cause of the issue.

The Batterers' Intervention Program is coming to Cape Girardeau, and it's all about about helping the abusers change their bad habits.

Amy Vinson, a counselor at Safe House for Women in Cape is running the program and says it has a high success rate.

"I am very excited to do this. I love seeing people grow intellectually and emotionally," Vinson said. "To see men that are headed down the path of criminal activity to put the breaks on and change and go a different direction, and have good healthy relationships."

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The counselor says the classes encourage an abuser to think and act differently, which can lead them to creating healthy relationships with the people they've hurt.

"We are not here to shame them, we are not here to reprimand them," Vinson said. "We are here to teach them and to examine what led them to their actions and it also helps to teach them how their behavior affects themselves and how it affects other people."

Vinson has sat in on similar intervention classes in Poplar Bluff and East Prairie.

She says participants act as a support system for one another and thinks the learning process is more powerful when lessons can come from someone in the same shoes.

""They develop a comradery. They hold each other accountable, but they do it in their way and they use their language," Vinson said. "And if somebody says something inappropriate about their partner, somebody in the group in the group will say let's not talk about her that way."

Sgt. Rick Schmidt with Cape Girardeau Police says domestic violence calls are common in many southeast missouri towns.

"It's not unusual. It happens every day, every hour," he said.

Schmidt thinks the battery intervention program could help offenders accept that they have a problem and change their ways before the make the same mistake.

"There has to be something other than stockpiling people in jail. We have jail for the right types of criminals, not everybody needs to stay there for an extended period of time, maybe there are programs that could help."

The classes will be held inside community room at the Cape police station and Schmidt says it's a controlled environment.

"This is our house," he said. "There are police officers freely moving around this building so it's fairly safe."

Vinson says first two Batterers' Intervention classes start the week of September 17th, and there are still spots available.

If you want to refer yourself or someone you know just call the Safe House for Women at (573) 335-7745.

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