Marine Corps Receives Change Step Training and Helps Veterans Change Abusive Behavior

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

change step logo purpleIn July two therapists, Sean and Mariah found themselves on the coast of sunny California. But they weren’t there to enjoy the sun and surf – they were training roughly 30 social workers of the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton in Domestic Abuse Project’s Change Step model.

Change Step was created in 2012 to provide services that address the specific issues faced by veterans of the Armed Forces who have used abuse. The group program helps veterans explore why they use abusive behavior and to make a plan for ending this in their life. Topics include the military’s traditionally masculine setting, gender roles, and mental illness.

One of the goals of the Change Step Program is to create a sense of accountability and camaraderie. “Battle buddies” are partners assigned to each other in the military that are responsible for supporting one another in and out of combat. In Change Step we talk about how each of the guys are battle buddies for one another – holding each other accountable for their actions and supporting them on their journey to end abusive behavior.

This is one of many takeaways training participants plan to incorporate into their work. At Camp Pendleton social workers already run a program for men who use abusive behaviors, but the participants said the Change Step model would help strengthen their work through tools such as the Self-Control Plan, the lesson on shame versus responsibility, and teaching accountability.

While most of the participants already had a working knowledge of domestic violence and treatment measures, the Change Step training “provided alternative ways to present information that enriched [participants’] knowledge.”

One participant said of the training, “Definitely not boring! I have been doing this a long time and you had more stuff I will use than any other program other than when I took entry-level domestic violence courses.”

As many as 81% of veterans suffering from depression and PTSD engaged in at least one violent act against their partner in a given year according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. More services are needed to intervene to end this trend.

Because of support from our donors, we were able to create an innovative model that does just that – that changes men’s behavior so they can participate in equal and healthy relationships, while supporting veterans’ underlying needs related to mental health and PTSD.

Over the years, therapists at DAP have trained programs on the Change Step model, including WestCare, two Minnesota veteran clinics, and the United States Air Force. With your support, our reach grows. We are building networks of service providers who can effectively end the use of abuse by veterans, and support them in the challenges they face in civilian life.

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