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A program that helps educate abusers about their behavior and helps them learn coping skills is one of the ways Domestic Violence Prevention Inc., works to decrease family violence.

The focus of the Batterer's Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP) is to give them the tools to make a change, said BIPP Program Coordinator Jennifer Beasley.

"The program provides a foundation for people in the group and helps them make changes and maintain those changes after they leave the program," Beasley said.

"We talk about how to effectively communicate. We talk about parenting and about culture and how that influences domestic violence. We talk about anger and stress and how to manage that better," said Beasley.

"Our hope is that they will take accountability for their actions and realize that domestic violence is wrong. It's not the answer and hopefully what they learn will help them abstain from being violent in the future. A lot of people who go through the program do learn better communication skills and better parenting skills."

Domestic Violence is often generational. Perpetrators of family violence have often grown up in a home with abuse, Beasley said.

"We say abuse is learned behavior. They've learned it from someone in their family either directly or indirectly or they may have learned it from peers in their social groups or interactions. Sometimes it can be learned from culture. The majority of clients I've worked with so far had abuse going on in the family somehow while they were growing up," Beasley said.

"One of the big things we do talk about with learned behavior in some of the course material is that behavior gets tied to a lot of our beliefs and values. In order to change the behavior, you have to go back and work on those beliefs and values you have. Change is possible, but it's very difficult."

Most of the BIPP clients are ordered to participate in the program by a judge or through probation or parole but the course is also open to anyone who's interested in participating.

Each prospective client receives an intake and assessment.

The length of the program varies from 18 to 32 weeks and is usually determined by the courts.

Classes are offered at 6 p.m. each Wednesday in Texarkana at 417 Spruce St., Texarkana, Texas and at 6 p.m. Thursdays at 209 E. Hiram St., Atlanta, Texas. Classes are divided into men and women.

The cost is $25 per class.

For more information on BIPP call 903-255-0278 or 903-794-4000.

Anyone who's in a crisis situation because of domestic violence or sexual assault can call DVP's 24-hour crisis hotline at 903-793-4357 (HELP).

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