Safe and Together: Helping families combat domestic violence

ROCKFORD, Ill.(WIFR) -- The Safe and Together model looks at changing the way professionals help families impacted by domestic violence and many local professionals learned the method from the founder himself.

"I think we've had culturally low standards for men as parents and high expectations of women as parents and so we've made them responsible for everything that happens to the kids,” said Founder of the Safe and Together Institute, David Mandel.

Mandel arrived in Rockford Wednesday hoping to change the mindset of nearly 150 professionals on how to help families dealing with domestic violence.

"That means really shifting responsibility for harm done to kids in domestic violence cases away from the victim mothers to the perpetrating parents," Mandel said.

Mandel explains how this strategy helps experts intervene when violence escalates.

"It helps them better partner with survivors and listen to their needs and identify the things they are doing right. Then it really helps them work with fathers who have been violent and make them better dads," Mandel said.

"Something that we often do is we demonize the perpetrator, we see them as a monster and the reality of it is that these are normal guys," said Senior Children's Advocate for Remedies Renewing Lives Jessie Brinkmeier.

Brinkmeier is excited to see so many agencies working together.. and hear other ideas for combating the problem.

"Remedies cannot be the only one looking at this. That's why we have the new office on domestic violence and human trafficking and that's why we have these agencies collaborating together. We have to in order to fix this issue," Brinkmeier said.

The Safe and Together name refers to the idea that children who experience violence at home are more likely to recover if they can stay with the parent who's also a domestic violence survivor.