Mental health professionals gather in Orono for training regarding domestic violence

ORONO, Maine (WABI) - About 150 mental health professionals attended a training session in Orono Wednesday regarding domestic violence.

We spoke to organizers about why they say this is critical education for more than just social workers.

"What we're hoping to do today is to help educate people who are intersecting with survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence so they can be the most helpful they can be," said Casey Faulkingham, Community Response Team Leader with Partners for Peace.

When it comes to helping victims of abuse, every case is different. That's why The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence holds a two-day conference taking an in-depth look at how to help people in abusive situations.

"I think sometimes there's a misunderstanding that it's common sense knowledge, but actually we have not just mental health practices, but we have legal stuff that we have to know in terms of giving our clients the right information," said Judith Josiah-Martin, UMaine School of Social Work.

During the training, they talk about how abusers justify their behavior, about the power and control the abuser can use on a victim, including using children and intimidation. They also discussed how to help with a safety plan.

As a licensed clinical social worker with the VA, Evie Slaven says this is information she uses in her work.

"The safety of the veterans, that's what comes first."

"I think with the rising number of clients that we work with as mental health practitioners, who are experiencing trauma on multiple levels, that no practitioner can afford to be in the field today without having this education," said Josiah-Martin.

Now, social workers in Maine will have this education. Beginning next year it will be legally mandatory to complete before a license to practice social work will be issued.

"I think the more people we have educated about this, not just practitioners, community members, family members, so that they can be a part of the healing circle, not just for the individual or for their family, but for the whole community," said Josiah-Martin.

For anyone interested in similar training, you can contact Partners for Peace to find out more information.

For those in abusive situations, the statewide domestic abuse helpline is 1-866-834-HELP.