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State Budget Cuts May Put A 'Halt' To Domestic Violence Program

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RALEIGH — In a tight budget year, many programs that benefit families are being cut. However, critics say one of those cuts could mean the difference between life and death.

Lee and Shelly Hayes are a happily married couple. They hold hands, talk and laugh, but their life has not always been a fairy tale. On February 20, 2000, Lee was arrested for beating up his wife.

"She wanted to leave. I didn't want her to leave. It escalated from there from an argument to physical violence," Lee says.

"I had finally reached the end. That was it," Shelly says. "I love my husband. That's what I stood in court and said, 'I love my husband, but you've got to get him help. Make him get help.'"

Help came in the form of a program, Halting Abuse Through Learning (HALT). HALT teaches abusers how to resolve conflict through communication.

"You just start looking at yourself and saying that there are things that I do need to change," Lee says.

Other couples may not be so lucky because the program is running out of money. Executive Director Dot Ehlers is optimistic that the state will help keep HALT alive.

"We know that violence is a learned behavior and you can unlearn it. You can teach ways to effectively resolve conflict without abuse," she says.

Since 1998, more than 420 men have completed the program. Less than 10 percent of them are repeat offenders.

HALT relies on grants and enrollment fees from its clients, but currently the program does not even have enough money to get through another year. Senate Bill 322 asks theGeneral Assemblyto appropriate $75,000 to keep HALT going.


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