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New Jersey County creates intervention program

Physical or emotional abuse affects a significant number of families here in New Jersey. When there are situations involving domestic violence, no one wins - the accused is a risk of damage to his or her personal and professional reputation in addition to possible criminal charges, while the victims can be left physically and emotionally scared and unsure of what to do next.

In an effort to address this important issue, a number of agencies in Hunterdon, New Jersey, are collaborating on an intervention program to address the needs of those affected by domestic violence. The program is titled the "Act Accountability through Cognitive Training" or ACT. The agencies working on the project include the county prosecutor's office, the court system, the local bar association and a few other local groups.

Studies of domestic violence demonstrate that it is characterized by patterns of abusive behavior that can result in physical or emotional distress. The idea behind the program is to target those who have a history of domestic violence, and will be populated by participants referred by judges as part of a criminal case. The goal is to educate those accused about their behavior as a way to prevent future situations.

Situations involving domestic violence are rather complex; while there may be a criminal law components, there may also be situations where the family law courts can help. For those who may be at risk, seeking a restraining order might be appropriate. However, those accused will want to ensure their side of the story is heard by a judge so that issues such as child custody or visitation are not unnecessarily affected.

Programs like this one often have a positive effect on the community, but for those in New Jersey currently facing issues of domestic violence, knowing the options available to address the situation immediately can be just as important.

Source: NJ.com, "New Hunterdon program aimed at domestic violence perpetrators," March 25, 2014

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