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Pa. program focuses on abusive men

March 18, 1998|By DON AINES

Pa. program focuses on abusive men

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The other side of the domestic violence equation will be addressed by Chambersburg Catholic Charities in a new program aimed at changing the behavior of men who batter their wives and girlfriends.

"We're trying to provide the missing link in the community that would provide a service to educate men about their behavior," said Beth Jones Chaney, a counselor with Catholic Charities who will help run the Men's Domestic Violence Group. The first class of the 18-week course is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, April 2, at the Catholic Charities offices, 336 Philadelphia Ave.

"Our main priority is to do anything that will enhance the safety of the victim," Chaney said this week. Last year she helped revamp a similar program with Citizens Assisting in Sheltering the Abused (CASA) in Washington County.

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"It's the first of its kind in Franklin County as far as we know," Chaney said.

Counseling Office Director Carolyn George will work with Chaney in the educational treatment program for batterers.

She said the weekly 90-minute sessions will focus on a different area of abuse every three weeks.

One area is denying, minimizing or shifting the blame, George said.

"The isolating of a partner from her social and family connections" is another behavior, George said.

Other behaviors include emotional and psychological abuse, intimidation and physical abuse, economic control over the partner and the "male privilege."

"Male privilege is where men assume they are the ones that will make all the important decisions in a family" or relationship, Chaney explained.

Chaney said many men are "taught that being aggressive is appropriate and right to get ahead in this world." Teaching men to recognize how this can cross the line to abuse is one goal of the program.

Chaney has been involved in case management, education and treatment of domestic violence victims for nine years. In the past three years, she said three people she had counseled were killed in domestic violence incidents.

According to Women In Need, which provides counseling and other services for the victims of domestic violence, there were 176 protection-from-abuse orders filed in Franklin County in 1996-97, up almost 50 percent from three years ago.

For more information about the group, call Catholic Charities at 1-717-263-3765.

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