Penquis is expanding its Domestic Violence Intervention Program into Knox and Waldo counties. The program offers classes designed to educate men about the dynamics of power and control, and help participants to decrease the use of violence in relationships. Penquis is collaborating to transfer services as staff of the current provider, Volunteers of America Northern New England, retires in November.
In Maine, Domestic Violence Intervention Programs must be certified through the state and based on one of three nationally recognized models. The Penquis program is based on the Duluth Model. In this community accountability approach, men learn to recognize and change controlling and/or abusive behaviors while also improving the quality of their own lives and those around them, including their partners. The program’s goals are to provide a structured opportunity for its participants to take responsibility, confront their underlying beliefs, and learn/adopt new strategies for managing their behavior toward intimate partners. The 48-week course, which has a sliding fee structure available for those who qualify, is kept at a 15-participant limit with each class led by one female and one male facilitator.
Saige Weeks, deputy director of Family Enrichment Services for Penquis, says the class can be life-changing. Participants have credited the class with helping them to improve their communication skills, relationships, compassion, and treatment of others. “What I like about the class,” said one participant, “is you get different perspectives from [the facilitators] and the guys in the class. You can put your thinking up against other ways of thinking.”
The expansion will begin with Penquis building connections in the two counties. “We have found DVIP to be most successful when it’s a part of a community-wide response to domestic violence,” said Weeks. “We look forward to continuing the work being done in these communities to help individuals in Knox and Waldo counties improve their lives and those of their partners and families.”
The program is expected to serve at least 50 individuals in the mid-coast region over the next year. That is in addition to the 70 individuals currently served by DVIP in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties. Anyone interested in receiving more information on the Domestic Violence Intervention Program can contact Weeks at 207-876-6210.
Established in 1967, Penquis is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting Maine families in becoming healthy, safe, connected, and financially secure. Penquis is Maine’s largest community action agency serving primarily low- and moderate-income individuals in Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Knox counties, with an even broader impact across all 16 counties. Penquis programs focus on four areas: economic security, school readiness, reliable transportation and healthy lives. Penquis touches the lives of approximately 6,000 people every day and more than 30,000 each year.