The Violence Intervention Program (VIP), a 48-week, court-certified program for offenders who have been convicted of domestic violence, holds participants accountable for their abusive behavior, helps them to address patterns of violent and controlling behavior, and teaches them alternative communication and coping strategies.
Fred Hyatt, now a Navy reservist, bought a home with his partner, Andrea, in Bangor. There they planned to raise their daughter together. He admits now, that soon after they settled into their home, he started to vent his frustrations on Andrea and considered his reactions normal. On one occasion, he “got physical” with her and ended up being arrested. After serving a ten-day sentence, he was released early on a one-year probation and attended the Violence Intervention Program (VIP).
At first he did not take it seriously and was irritated. Fred met regularly with his male facilitator who proved to be a good influence on him. He says now that VIP should be called a Violence Prevention Program because having the information earlier could have helped him mitigate or stop his abusive behavior. He says that his younger generation has a particularly hard time dealing with emotions. When asked about his relationship with his daughter, Fred acknowledges that it has improved after a rough period when a protection order required supervision of his visits with her. He admits that it is hard not being able to be with her all the time, and that he works to make their limited time together special.
Fred and Andrea are back on speaking terms which allows them to co-parent and gives him a chance to offer more guidance to their daughter. Amanda who served as one of Fred’s VIP facilitators attests that she and her co-facilitator witnessed extreme changes in Fred. He had a poor attitude when he started the program, but it improved as he allowed himself to see that there were alternative choices he could make and started making positive changes.
Fred said his whole attitude has changed. He is forming new habits and altering his way of thinking. Johnnie, from Partners for Peace, observed him in class and thought he was amazing and good for the other participants to see. He left a lasting impression. Fred wondered aloud at a team meeting whether his experience could have been different, and he speculated that every high school student should take some form of the class because it focuses on self-improvement and common sense. When asked how professionals might work with parents more effectively in domestic violence situations, Fred said it was tough going through the process. He said that going to jail affected him a lot more than he expected. It was a stressful experience for him and left him with a lot to recover from.
When asked what kept him believing he could change, Fred said his relationship with his father and going into the Navy helped. He finally accepted that he was the common denominator in his experiences. He wanted to be better for the next phase of his life, and he focused on that. Fred said that much of his work life was spent on manual labor and using physical force to complete jobs. Unfortunately, he said that sometimes he carried that approach home with him. Fred said that society portrays men as being rough and tough on the outside, but that their insides need nurturing. He said he probably would not have gotten to where he is without VIP.