John Anthony Bochnowicz, SAFE Director, entered the field of DV counseling for victims and perpetrators in 1982 in Kings Beach, California. SAFE was founded in 1994, first named Supportive Alliances for Family Empowerment (SAFE). SAFE’s office is located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Serving court referred and self-referred men, women and families in the Greater Philadelphia Area – primarily Bucks County – 40 min north of Philadelphia and 2 hours south of New York. Since 1994 SAFE has been affiliated with the Peace Center, a non-profit peace education and violence prevention organization in Langhorne.
SAFE is a BIP provider for male and female offenders and victims in gender specific groups. SAFE’s services are a part of a coordinated community response to IPV. Recently implemented local standards strictly and explicitly prohibit providers of DV offender programs from reaching out to participants’ victims. SAFE holds the controversial position that is confirmed by recent social sciences and neuroscience research, that there are characteristics that parties in conflict share in common. SAFE has narrowed these down to 10 core areas in common for DV partners. Establishing a secure relationship with the facilitator is central in the intervention, along with using motivational interviewing as an approach to enroll the clients into their treatment. SAFE employs CBT Techniques to challenge and reframe client’s beliefs, biases and cognitive distortions and teaches self-awareness and self-regulation as the basis of safe practices to build the client’s ability to experience and express empathy, genuine interest, and insight into the emotional world of others. SAFE teaches an emotional healing process, and uses Gestalt Therapy Principles of being in the present to facilitate attunement and synchronicity with each group participant during each session.
SAFE has the experience and unique intervention model designed for work with the entire family, and with victims and perpetrators since 1982. SAFE’s intervention model is trauma-informed, resilience-focused, strength-based and client-centered. The emphasis in SAFE’s intervention is on the experiential involvement of each client over didactic instruction, by teaching a set of tools and a specific process to work through whenever an incident or trauma is experienced. The client is walked through this process repeatedly every week to facilitate the development of new neural pathways. The clients are conditioned to have new emotional and behavioral responses to their shames and fears by bringing Love into their lives to alleviate their emotional pain in the form of giving themselves R.U.A.C.A.T. (Respect, Understanding, Acceptance, Caring, Appreciation, and Trust). The repetition as a way of learning new behavior is supported by Dr. Daniel Sonkin’s work with Secure Base Priming. The importance of learning how to give love to oneself as a way of stopping violence is supported by Erin Pizzey’s talk in the Toronto Symposium of 2014. The clients also receive a written text of the course along with weekly reading and homework assignments with exercises that can be personalized. SAFE’s Intervention rationale and approach are consistent with CDC’s Connecting the Dots Study; Attachment Theory; Trauma-Informed Practices and Care; Resilience and Strength Based approaches to healing and behavior transformation; underpinnings of Motivational Interviewing; ACEs study findings and recommendations; neuroscience and social sciences intersections on best approaches to teach empathy, motivate change and transform harmful behavior to others and self; recent social sciences research outlining the risk factors for perpetrating IPV, the psychological and developmental characteristics of the perpetrators, and the categories and dynamics of IPV incidents.