— Local endeavor provides Community Alternatives to Violence.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime—and on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic-violence hotlines nationwide.

Once such organization that receives those types of calls is Community Alternatives to Violence (CAV), located at 314 Wilson Street, in Martinsburg (WV). CAV’s mission is to help prevent abusive behavior by conducting educational programs for men and women, and to raise awareness of respectful relationships in the community at large.

Established in 1996, CAV is a licensed abuser-intervention program in the Eastern Panhandle that holds nine weekly gender-specific education classes for men and women who are involved in any sort of violence. There is also a youth and fatherhood program. All programs are based on respectful relationships along with strategies to attain that goal. CAV is the only program of its kind in the Panhandle.

Carolyn Zdziera, Executive Director, shared how CAV helps those who have been a victim of abusive behavior. “Many of the women in our women’s classes are victims,” she said. “For these, and for others who call us, we refer them to the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center, formerly known as Shenandoah Women’s Center, for services. Male victims would also be referred there, though we get few of these.”

Awareness events are held in all levels of the community–courts, churches, civic organizations, schools, as well as the community at large. “The Mentors in Violence Prevention program is a worldwide bystander intervention program developed to change the culture in schools, sports, and the military,” explained Zdziera. “At CAV, we have been trained to deliver this program to local high schools, and ran this as a club at Berkeley Springs High School. Students go through a training process to learn intervention techniques, which they use inside and outside of school to intervene in situations involving inappropriate behavior they witness. These students then train others, with the goal of changing the school culture.”

Volunteers looking to work with CAV can visit the above website or call 304-262-4424 directly. Volunteer opportunities include group facilitation, board of directors, office tasks, fundraising, and research studies.

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