Family Options, a new prevention program offered by Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of the San Juan Islands (DVSAS), assists families, couples, children and adults whose lives are being affected by conflict. The mission of the Family Options Program is to break the cycle of intergenerational violence and to prevent domestic violence and child abuse. The Family Options Program addresses potential abuse patterns before they become established in the family.
Domestic violence and sexual assault shatter the lives of its victims and diminishes the quality of life for everyone in the community. These leading causes of homelessness for women and children are also incredibly traumatic for the children who witness them. Studies have shown that there is significant overlap between domestic violence and child abuse — homes where one is present are likely to have the other. The majority of studies have shown that it is likely that both forms of abuse exist in 30 to 60 percent of families identified with child maltreatment or woman battering.
Parents and children who experience or witness conflict and abuse in the home frequently suffer from depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. The children often exhibit attention deficits that interfere with their ability to learn. Depression and anxiety in children and teens manifest as behavior problems, sleep issues, or aggression towards animals or peers.
Parents who are experiencing conflict or who have a personal history of abuse often find great difficulty in parenting. Self care and nurturing skills are taught to the parent as a first step in the Family Options Program. Family routines, appropriate boundaries, and effective discipline skills come next. Up to 12 psychotherapy sessions are available to families at no cost to the client.
The Family Options Program on Lopez is co-led by Suzi Marean, Chemical Dependency Professional, and Carol Weiss, MA Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Suzi has specialized training in domestic violence and sexual assault as well as the treatment of chemical dependency. She serves as the Lopez Community Advocate for DVSAS. Carol is a psychotherapist with over 30 years of experience as an adult, child, couple, and family therapist. She is especially interested in promoting healthy early attachment between parent and child, which benefit both throughout their lives.
The Family Options Program is supported by each community through the fundraising efforts of DVSAS. We are appealing to those who would like to support Lopez Island families and community by contributing to this effort with donations made payable to DVSAS Family Options Program and sent to the DVSAS Administrative Office, PO Box 1516, Eastsound, WA 98245.
Referrals to the program come from the Lopez Medical Clinic, Family Resource Center, our Public Health nurse, and the schools. Potential clients may also self-refer by contacting Suzi at the DVSAS office at 468-3788.