Money to counsel men who batter their wives is cut


Carroll County men who seek therapy because they've battered their wives will have to travel to Baltimore County for help beginning next week.

Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland no longer will have the money to pay a therapist to conduct group counseling sessions for men in Carroll, District Director Sandy L. Rappeport said.

Men will be referred to the Family and Children's Services office at 7131 Liberty Road in Lochearn.

Ms. Rappeport and Pat Lanning, district director of the Baltimore County office, said they were told by state Department of Human Resources officials that they will receive about $8,500 less in the next fiscal year to spend on domestic violence programs than they did this year.

Carroll and Baltimore counties applied for the state contract jointly, Ms. Rappeport said. The next fiscal year begins July 1.

Family and Children's Services, at 22 N. Court St. in Westminster, is a private, nonprofit agency that offers a domestic violence program, family counseling and a sexual abuse treatment program.

The cut affects only the domestic violence program, Ms. Rappeport said. Carroll County's program will absorb about $7,000 of the total cut.

She said she decided to discontinue group therapy for men who beat their wives because she knew she could refer them to Baltimore County.

In fiscal 1993, 33 men attended group therapy in Carroll, Ms. Rappeport said. Numbers for the current fiscal year were not available.

Baltimore County has a larger population and a larger program. From last July through May, 150 men attended group therapy sessions, Ms. Lanning said.

Ms. Rappeport said the cut also will mean a slight reduction to the budget for the women's shelter.

Carroll and Baltimore counties applied to DHR for about $100,000 in each year of a five-year contract beginning in fiscal 1995, Ms. Lanning said.

Susan Seling, acting director of Women's Services Programs in the Department of Human Resources, said she could not comment on specific contracts for domestic violence programs because the contracts have not been approved by the state Board of Public Works.

She said the state will distribute about $1.6 million to battered spouse programs throughout Maryland in the next fiscal year.

In Carroll, Family and Children's Services also receives money from the county and federal governments, United Way and fees, Ms. Rappeport said.

The total budget for the domestic violence program for fiscal 1995 is about $160,000, she said. The program employs the equivalent of four full-time people.

In fiscal 1993, the program served 335 clients, she said.

Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr., Carroll commissioners, the Department of Social Services and others who oversee domestic violence programs plan to write to the state requesting more money for the battered spouse program, Carroll Circuit Court Administrator Bobbie Erb said.

Ms. Rappeport said she will try to find other grants to support the program.

Group counseling for men who batter their wives has been found to be more effective than individual counseling, she said. The men don't allow each other to deny what they've done or rationalize it, she said.

She said she hasn't noticed more calls to Family and Children's Services from battered women since the high-profile arrest of O. J. Simpson in the murder of his ex-wife. He had pleaded no contest to beating her before their divorce.

"Domestic violence happens in every socioeconomic class. Nobody wants to believe that, but it really does," Ms. Rappeport said.

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