Program helps domestic violence offender change his life for the better

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PONTOTOC COUNTY, OK -- Darrin and Amber Dority of Roff both say they are the happiest they have ever been, but it took a long journey to get where they are.

It wasn't until one incident at a Christmas party two years ago that completely changed their lives.

"I had too much to drink," said Darrin Dority. "I wanted another drink, but my wife had the money, and she wouldn't give it to me, and we got into an argument."

"He was cussing, yelling, screaming, and calling me names," said Amber Dority. "And the next thing I know he had his hands around my throat."

Dority was charged with domestic assault and battery by strangulation, and had a restraining order put on him.

He was ordered by the court to participate in the Batterers Intervention Program, a year long program that reeducates offenders how to maintain healthy relationships and prevent them from offending again.

"We just talk to them about these are the things that are healthy, and these are the things that are unhealthy," said Shelly Battles-Reichle, Program Facilitator at the Family Crisis Center in Ada. "If you're doing some of these unhealthy things then that's a red flag, and you need to be aware of what you're doing."

Dority began attending classes once a week, and soon realized that his communication skills needed to improve if he was ever going to have a healthy relationship with his family or anyone else.

"I didn't communicate at all," Dority said. "Anytime we talked about something, I'd just shut down and not say anything at all.

He and Amber divorced, but says his strained relationship with his daughter is what made him realize he needed to change.

"I mean there would be times when she wouldn't even want to come with me when I picked her up," Dority said. "And that hurts a lot when your child says I don't want to go."

He says the program helped him to identify his anger and prevent it from escalating.

He says he began to see some small changes, and after a year and a half of no contact, so did Amber, who eventually dropped the restraining order.

"Going to this class has helped me to be able to express my feelings and express how I feel about certain subjects, and talk about it without letting my anger get the best of me," Dority said.

"Numerous times a day we'd talk on the phone to each other," Amber said. "If anything happens we talk about it, and it doesn't matter what it is, we talk about it."

Both Amber and Dority say the class has not only changed him, but also changed his relationships with everybody. The couple decided to re-marry this past September.

"He's a husband, he's a father, he's our provider," Amber said. "He's not the same as he was before and that is thanks to this class. From where we were to where we are now is day and night different."

"It's crazy how the 180 I've been able to do just from taking the lessons in and incorporating them in my personal life, and it's really helped me a lot," Dority said.

Dority has nearly completed the Intervention Program, and is grateful for going through with it. He knows there are times when he is judged for his past actions, but he's not letting that stop him from living a happy life today.

"I'm not going to let their judgement affect me," Dority said. "I'm going to keep moving forward. I'll let them judge me and see how I am now compared to the past, and then see what they have to say then."

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