BATH — New Hope for Women is offering a six-week support group for women who have suffered from domestic or dating violence and need a safe and nurturing place to turn.

The six-week group will be held at the organization’s new Bath headquarters at 12 Court St. from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9 to Feb. 13.

The sessions will delve into patterns and types of abuse, along with the impacts of abusive relationships. The group offers emotional support and a safe place to talk while participants work through the effects of abuse.

Domestic violence “is something we deal with quite frequently,” Bath Police Chief Mike Field said last week. “Our goal … is to eliminate it totally, and we’ll keep fighting for that.”

Contributors to the problem include finances, particularly around the holiday season, and substance abuse, Field said. Education and awareness are key in dealing with that issue, he added.

Kathleen Morgan, executive director of New Hope for Women, which is part of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, said the group moved services into Sagadahoc County Oct. 1. Prior to that the organization served only Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties.

“It’s a pretty significant issue everywhere,” Morgan said last week. “One of the things that batterers traditionally do is isolate their victims, so that is always a major obstacle to overcome. … They’re being forced to choose between family and friends, and the abuser.”

Despite the organization being in existence since 1981, “we still hear from people (who say) ‘I never knew you were there,'” she said.

The group is available for women who are out of the abusive situation, or who are still in it.

“If we had enough men we would certainly run a support group, but it’s unlikely that we would,” Morgan said.

Domestic and dating violence are about power and control, she explained, using either physical violence or the threat thereof. While Christmas Day tends to be quiet for the organization, “in the evening it will start up. … We’ll hear about how he has wrecked the kids’ toys, or done something that has just made the holiday a wreck for them.”

But it’s not just the holidays, she said – it can be a day-to-day problem for families in which there is violence.

Often abusers will blame victims for what it happening to them, Morgan said, “and the truth of the matter is that nobody deserves to be treated with anything other than respect. And to have someone who says they love you, put you down, harass you, threaten you, hold the kids hostage, force you to give up your job, friends, family – that’s not love, and that’s not your fault.”

“I think that it’s really important that people who are being victimized understand that blaming the victim is just standard operating procedure on the part of abusers,” she added.

Those interested in registering for the session can call New Hope for Women at (800) 522-3304. There is no charge to attend.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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