COMMENTARY: What are we going to do?

by Oct 23, 2021OPINIONS0 comments



One Feather Editor


As we conclude Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we want to talk about a subject that most folks are either repulsed by or don’t want to think about at all – the abusers, the perpetrators of domestic violence. After all, over this past month, we have talked about the heartache and physical pain these people inflict on others. Some of the stories of domestic violence are painful and horrifying.

The quick answer we may give is “lock ‘em up”. And there is certainly cause to think that way. For families, it is hard to get past the thoughts of wanting vengeance for the wronged. For all of us, it is a matter of public safety and justice.

I have had this discussion with coworkers and family members. It is truly beyond comprehension that a relationship like that of spouses, or parent/child, or other beloved family members would at any point turn into hate and abuse. It particularly troubles me with spouses.

You can’t choose your blood kin, but you make a choice; you fall in love; you “woo” your soulmate into a relationship. Partnering with a significant other takes emotional investment and commitment. And yet, through time (and in some instances, a very short time), a decision is made to not only do away with the relationship, but to destroy it. In some statistics that you will find in this week’s One Feather, compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice, 84.3 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime (and 81.6 percent of the men). From psychological aggression to physical violence to sexual violence to stalking, our people, particularly our family members are hurting each other. According to their study, we are more likely to have that abuse in our home than other ethnic groups.

With drug use issues and other recurring negative behaviors, society has gone through a learning process. Early on, the solution was incarceration. Lock them up and if you lock them up often and long enough, it will change their behavior. But that wasn’t working, and the problem didn’t go away. It escalated. Leaders finally realized that, while penalties and sentences produced some short-term effects, incarceration was not helping educate and correct mindsets. It is like treating the symptoms instead of locating the source and finding the cure for a disease. In the case of drug use, we know that treatment must be included in the recovery process to curtail users falling back into the behavior that damages them and others.

Helping perpetrators of domestic violence to understand and reform from their behavior has great benefit for their families and the community. Should the family survive an initial episode of abuse, it is likely the abused and abuser will stay together. And if an abuser moves on to a new relationship, they are likely to repeat abusive behavior. And communities suffer when there are abusive relationships in it. Domestic violence breeds fear, depression, and pain in a community. The hurt goes beyond the immediate family, and, unfortunately, continual exposure to abusive relationships may propagate that behavior.

There is a growing realization that treatment is needed for perpetrators of domestic violence. Communities across the nation are finding ways to address the identification and treatment of abusers. One way that the community is trying to address the issue is the Batterer’s Treatment Program.

The Cherokee Indian Hospital Analenisgi (Behavioral health) operates a Batterers Treatment program and other comprehensive services designed to help those who perpetuate domestic violence with how to recognize sources of the violence, as well as identify trigger points, and develop alternative coping mechanisms, according to Freida Saylor, MSW LCSW, LCAS, behavioral health director at Analenisgi.

The Batterers Treatment program is available to those who would like to get help voluntarily; however, most participants have historically been court-ordered to attend after an incident has been brought to the attention of the court.

The importance of being able to offer this treatment to the community voluntarily was noted and a shift was made to accommodate those seeking treatment voluntarily. There is no cost to individuals who voluntarily submit themselves to the program.

For those that have been court-ordered, a cost is assessed of $600 per person for 24 sessions or approximately 6 months). This is payable by the person to Analenisgi sentenced by the court. There is no cost for the initial assessment needed before the referral to the Batters Treatment Program or other current services offered through Analenisgi.

Since we know that other life events like substance abuse and trauma can be attributed to increased incidents of domestic violence, treatment may look like stopping use of drugs or alcohol or therapy, in addition to the Batters Treatment Program, we encourage those needing help to come into the Analenisgi outpatient clinic where we do a comprehensive clinic assessment looking at all aspects of the person and their environment, while ensuring they get the necessary services.

Analenisgi’s encourages those who maybe struggling with domestic violence in their home that help is available through the walk-in clinic Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (828) 497-9163 extension 7550. To learn more “like” Analenisgi on Facebook.

Analenisgi has provided a graphic titled “Power and Control Wheel”. It contains valuable information to us about domestic violence and may help our community better understand the many different manifestations of abuse.

If you are not part of the Cherokee community, seek out the local hospital and community health services in your area for treatment options. Since 2002, the North Carolina Council for Women has been building a network of abuser treatment programs to “re-educate offenders on their behavior and help them to develop new methods of interacting with intimate partners and family members.” Find detailed information about domestic violence intervention programs in N.C. at