De-escalating violence is goal of YWCA program

LIHU‘E — A 29-year-old Waimea man was sentenced to time served and a year’s probation Wednesday for an assault that he said he committed after believing a lie.

The defendant pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in January for losing his temper at a gathering and striking another man. The incident was prompted after someone else reportedly told him that the victim had groped his then-girlfriend.

The information turned out not to be true, the defendant said. The quick reaction came without thinking, he said.

The man’s attorney, Timothy Tobin, said the misinformation caused the defendant to lose his composure and gave the guy a punch on the nose. He didn’t break his nose, Tobin added, but it did hurt.

The defendant said he saw the victim the following day and immediately apologized. He said the two have since reconciled and are now friends.

The defendant said his life has changed and that he doesn’t expect a reoccurrence of the circumstances that led to the violent incident.

Judge Kathleen N.A. Watanabe said the mandatory minimum sentence for similar crimes is two days, and that the defendant served 77 days before being released. He was also facing a contempt of court charge during that time period.

Watanabe said she was concerned that the defendant had already completed an anger management course after a previous abuse conviction. It doesn’t appear that the course has done much good, she said.

The defendant said the course did help him, but that this incident did not allow him to work through the steps he learned and prevent him from making a poor decision. Now that his home and work setting have changed, he said he doesn’t expect to make the same mistake again.

County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Vogt said she agreed with the facts of the case as presented by Tobin. She said the state would ask that the defendant abide by the terms of probation.

Watanabe ordered the defendant to take another anger management course and undergo a substance abuse evaluation.

In other cases, victims often blame themselves and protect the abuser in a relationship. They often experience serious injury before deciding to leave a setting of domestic violence.

All too often, the perpetrators who admit there is a problem don’t seek help until the court orders it following a conviction.

YWCA Kaua‘i provides treatment and education services to perpetrators with its Alternatives to Violence Program. The victim-centered approach aims at early intervention to stop the cycle of violence within families with group and individual therapy.

The sessions focus on anger management skills, understanding power and control dynamics, self-care, empathy and sensitivity to children, and communication and collaboration skills. Participants learn to take responsibility for their behavior and learn to de-escalate potential problems with alternative methods.

Domestic violence programs help victims pursue justice as victim advocates with the police and courts. The goals include helping families develop mutual respect and non-abusive relationships.

Men are most often the offenders. However, the YWCA has classes for women and teenage offenders, as well.

The 24-Hour YWCA Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline is 245-6362. The Sexual Assault Hotline is 245-4144. The general information line is 245-5959, ext. 240. Or visit www.ywcakauai.org for more information.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

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