Willmott: Alright, good afternoon.
LaViolette: Good afternoon
Willmott: Could you tell us your name, please?
LaViolette: My name is Alyce LaViolette.
Willmott: And Ms. LaViolette, what do you do for a living?
LaViolette: I’m a psychotherapist. I do consulting and training and I do expert witness occasionally.
Willmott: Okay. So, psychotherapy in what?
LaViolette: Psychotherapy, um I have a private practice.
LaViolette: And I have a specialty in domestic violence. I conduct two groups a week for men who perpetrate domestic violence, and I have a broad-based private practice where I do marriage counselling. I also do work with individuals, I work with adults, I work with battered women, I work with adult survivors of childhood abuse, and then I do a broad-based private practice with a variety of issues.
Willmott: Okay. Let’s talk about your education. What I want to know is what qualifies you to do this type of work, so could we could we talk about your education for a second?
LaViolette: Yes, I went for two years here in Arizona at Glendale College, Glendale Community College; the first year at the campus that we used to call (Reed Mull & Ford University?) because it was right beside (Reed Mull & Ford?). The campus that’s there now was built for the 2nd year and I went to become a teacher. I got interested in psychology and then went over to Cal State Long Beach and took .. did my bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology. About eight years later, I went back and did my master’s degree in community clinical psychology, and then sat for the licensing examination. I had to do three thousand clinical hours that were supervised, and then I sat for the licensing exam and became licensed in the State of California.
Willmott: Alright, let’s talk about your undergraduate degree first. So you said you finished up at Cal State North Beach?
LaViolette:: Cal State Long Beach.
Willmott: Long Beach
LaViolette:: Uh Huh.
Willmott: I didn’t go there. So, alright, so you finish up, is that where you get your bachelor’s degree?
LaViolette: That’s where I got my bachelor’s.
Willmott: And you were talking about becoming interested in psychology?
Willmott: Okay, and so what is your bachelor’s in?
LaViolette My bachelor’s is in clinical psychology and my master’s is in community clinical psychology.
Willmott: Okay. What’s the difference between a bachelor’s and a master’s degree?
LaViolette About two years.
LaViolette: There’s um, there’s um.. I completed my master’s in two years. It can sometimes take three, but I actually did it in about a year and a half to two years.
Willmott: Alright, and your master’s you said, is in community clinical psychology?
Willmott: What does that mean?
LaViolette: Community clinical psychology is a program at Cal State Long Beach that was kind of unique. You were interviewed by faculty and students who had been through the program and, um, you had to pass, well actually, they had to select from the applicants twelve people who would be part of this program. And back at the time, the reason I wanted to do this program, was because it was hands on. You actually got to go out in the field and worked twenty hours a week doing field work and that’s what I wanted to do.
Willmott: When you say field work, what does that mean?
LaViolette: Um, you could pick a practicum, a place to work, that had to be approved by your department. And so at that time I did ten hours in a community facility, a community, like neighbourhood kind of facility, where I was doing tutoring and registering voters and that sort of thing; and then I did ten hours a week in the battered women’s shelter, which I didn’t really know anything about, and was wanting to work in some form of impacting violence against women since I had known people who had been raped and sexually assaulted. And so I was going to work with sexual assault, and one of my friends was volunteering at the shelter and told me that it was a very interesting place to work and it was a very new field. So, I decided that I would apply there and I volunteered there, ten hours a weeks.
Willmott: When you volunteer … when you’re working on your master’s in that particular community clinical psychology and you’re volunteering at a battered women’s shelter, what is that you’re doing there?
LaViolette Well, you’re doing a lot of different things. I worked on the hot line. I was trained to work on the hot line, so I worked on the hot line.
Willmott: What’s a hot line?
LaViolette The hot line is a twenty-hour crisis line where people can call anonymously, or they can give you their name, and they can talk to you about what’s going on in their lives and your job is to listen to them, sometimes make referrals, sometimes recommend that they come into the shelter, that sort of thing. And in addition to that, I did clerical kinds of work, I did fundraising for the shelter, I did what was called casual counselling with the women, which is you just sat with the women and the kids in the shelter and talked to them or ran a group. I did a self defence class for them one time because I had taken one self defence class and I wasn’t very good, but it was fun for the women to be up and moving around and doing physical things.
Willmott: And can we talk time line, when in the time line of your life, are we talking about? What year is this?
Willmott: 1978 is when you started with your master’s?
LaViolette 1978 is when I started with my master’s, 1980 is when I completed my master’s and I volunteered at the shelter until 1979 and then I was hired in 1979.
Willmott: Okay, and when you were hired at the shelter in 1979 what were you hired to do?
LaViolette: I was hired to start a program for men who battered their wives and the reason for that was that we did a little piece of research on women who had been our shelter. The shelter opened in 1977 and we did a little piece of research to find out what happened to women after they had left the shelter, a year after they left the shelter, and of the women that we could find, over eighty percent had returned to the person who abused them within the first year after they left. And so, our Director was very far sighted, and she said we need to start a program for the men who are in relationship to the women in our shelter, so they go back .. so the women and children go back to a safer place. And actually, I didn’t want to do that, nobody actually at the shelter wanted to do that, but I needed a paid position. I had two children and I needed a job ..
Martinez: Objection, relevance.
Willmott: Why did you, why did you ultimately take the job then? Well, let me ask you this, why didn’t you want to take the job of starting a men’s group?
LaViolette: Because I had worked with the women and the children and it was really hard to see what had happened to them, and so I didn’t initially want to do that but I began to do it. I began to develop a program because I liked, you know, program development and then when I started the work, I really liked the work and I stayed with it.
Willmott: And when you talk about working at the shelter and starting to work on this men’s group are you also still going to school with your master’s?
LaViolette: Yes, I’m still going to school with my master’s.
Willmott: Alright, and to get your master’s are you taking classes as well?
LaViolette: I’m taking classes. I had a graduate seminar that met three hours a week and a supervision group that met three, and then I had taken a lot of my classes prior to actually getting into the program; they could count classes I had taken between my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree.
Willmott: Okay, and so at the time that you are now working at the shelter and you are working on starting this men’s group, is there also something that you have to do to finish up your master’s?
LaViolette: Yes, I had to do a thesis. After I completed my class work I did a thesis.
Willmott: What does that mean?
LaViolette: Um, you write basically a research paper, and it’s a significant research paper, on a topic that your clinical supervisor approves and that is something that would be of interest, and I did mine on perpetrators of domestic violence. And it was one of the, I guess, one of the early theses on that topic because at that time I had sort of a corner on the market. I had one of the only, there were only two programs in Los Angeles County that actually dealt with working with folks who perpetrated violence, and so I had clients who volunteered to participate in that study.
Willmott: Okay, and when you talk about clients are you talking about the men, the perpetrators?
LaViolette: Yes, the men who were in my group.
Willmott: Okay, and that’s the group that you created?
Willmott: What was the purpose of that group?
LaViolette: The purpose of that group was to teach people skills, and maybe help them to work on issues that would enable them to be more effective parents, to be more effective partners in their relationships and at the time, I hadn’t had counselling experience, much counselling experience and so I sort of based my group on a healthy family, what would a healthy family look like, and I talked to the women at the shelter because at that time I think there were three groups around the country that were doing this work, and I wrote to all of those groups and got information about what they were doing. And they were all doing work at about six to twelve weeks; they were doing short term work. And I talked to the women in the shelter and what was consistent from those women was that the men they were involved with had grown up in abusive families and needed help, that they needed, you know, to have work on trauma issues. And so, we created the group to deal also with some of those trauma issues.
Willmott: And so this group that you created, that you worked with, was it just men who would be in this group?
LaViolette: Yes. In the State of California now you have to have same sex groups. At that time, you didn’t but we didn’t have any referrals from women at that time.
Willmott: Okay. And so how long did you keep working with this particular group, well, you received your master’s in 1980, is that right?
Willmott: Okay, when you receive your master’s, let me back up a second, when you receive your master’s you said you have to write a thesis.
Willmott: Is that right? Do you have to do anything with that thesis?
LaViolette: Um, you have to have it approved and you have to sit for orals. Um, so you sit with a group that questions you on your thesis and has to approve your thesis, and feel that it is worthy of, you know, if it’s to be published. I don’t believe mine was published, I think parts of it might have been used, but I never pursued publishing my thesis. I was just happy to get through with it, actually.
Willmott: Alright, so once you receive your master’s, you said that was in 1980?
Willmott: Okay, and then are you still then at the shelter working in the men’s group?
LaViolette: I’m still at the shelter and I’m working with the men’s group, but I’m also doing volunteer recruiting and training and I’m doing all the community education for the group. So, for instance, I worked with the probation officers locally, and we set up the first eight hour training program for probation officers on domestic violence in LA County and then went around the State. And I worked with two probation officers on that. I did training for mental health, initially, really in 1979, the only people that kind of wanted training were church groups. And I went to United Methodist Women, I remember were one of the first groups that supported the shelter, and I would go to speak to their church women’s groups. I went to speak to the Soroptimist, I went to speak to the Rotary, I went to speak to mental health agencies, so anybody actually who wanted to hear about it. And by the way, at conferences, we would have maybe three people in a workshop. People really didn’t want to hear too much about it then.
Willmott: Well, I was going to ask you in the late seventies when this is occurring, was domestic violence something that was wide known?
LaViolette: No, it wasn’t. Um, there were very few shelters. Shelters began to open in the late seventies and early eighties in the United States.
Willmott: And you said you were one of three groups in the U.S. who had a men’s group, right?
LaViolette: There were three other programs that were outside, you know, outside groups. There was one program in Washington State that was at a Veteran’s hospital and they had a residential program there that Anne Ganley did.
Willmott: I’m sorry, that who?
LaViolette: Anne Ganley.
Willmott: Okay, is that somebody whose involved in domestic violence, battered women or?
LaViolette: Yes, she’s involved with battered women, but also involved in doing programs for the men.
Willmott: Okay, and so how did you feel working with these men?
LaViolette: I guess that I felt, I felt hesitant at first, but I quickly saw that they were in pain, and that they, for some of them, they really wanted to change. Some of them didn’t, they just wanted to get their partners back. And so the men that I worked with who continued to stay in group because they had an option back then about staying in group, really seemed to want to change and I was excited about that, I thought that was terrific and I wanted to be part of that process.And by the way, I worked with a male co-facilitator. We wanted to set it up to look like, you know, as much as a family that we could and so I thought having a male-female team would be a good way to go with that and having that power dynamic where you see respectful interaction between a man and woman would be good role modeling in that group. So we did a lot of that, and I worked with him for twenty-eight years until he retired.
Willmott: Your co-facilitator?
LaViolette: My co-facilitator, yeah.
Willmott: Did any of these men, you had started working with just the women in 1978, is that right?
Willmott: Did any of these men ever frighten you when you started working with the perpetrators?
Martinez: Objection, relevance.
Willmott: Goes directly to her expertise, Judge.
LaViolette: Occasionally, I have been frightened probably three or four times in my career. If I was frightened very much, I wouldn’t keep doing it, uh, because it would be too frightening. So there were several times where I really worried; one time with a guy that was a gang banger who was someone who, I know, had murdered people.
Willmott: And when you talk about the three or four times, how many men have you counselled throughout your career, ballpark?
LaViolette: Well, probably a couple of thousand, but I’m not sure, maybe less, than that.I have done two groups a week for thirty-four years. And I have had normally not more than twelve people in a group, usually somewhere between eight and ten people in a group. And the groups change so that it’s an open-ended group and people can come in at different times during the period of doing that group.
Willmott: Alright, going from the first men’s group, what kind of therapy do you do now?
LaViolette: I do very broad-based therapy. I have worked with couples, high conflict couples, people who need anger management. I work with adult survivors of childhood abuse, I continue to do that. I work with battered women, I continue to do that. I’ve worked with a few men who have been abused as well. I continue to do the groups, and I work with adolescents and occasionally I’m working with parents on parenting issues.
Willmott: And when you’re doing this work, do you work always with groups, or do you sometimes work with just an individual?
LaViolette: I work with individuals, I work with couples, I work with, I haven’t worked with large families, but I’ve worked with, you know, like I’m working with a grandmother and her granddaughter now who has custody of her granddaughter, and that kind of thing.
Willmott: Alright, so after, um after you, how long did you stay working at the shelter with the men’s group?
LaViolette: I worked at the shelter from 1978 till 1984.
Willmott: Okay, and all that time from 79 to 84, was that where you were working with the men’s group?
LaViolette: I worked with the men’s group from 79 to 84, but I also worked with the women and I also did community education and I also recruited volunteers and trained them.
Willmott: Okay, so you were doing a myriad of things?
LaViolette: Yes, I was.
Willmott: Alright, and then in 1984 what did you move to?
LaViolette: In 1984 the funding collapsed for the shelter and I needed a job and I thought that it might be a really good idea to try to start my own business, which was something that I never actually considered in my life before. And I had two children, and so I needed ..
Martinez: Objection, relevance, sympathy.
Willmott: Did you start your own practice?
LaViolette: Yes, I did, I started my own practice in 1984.
Willmott: Alright, and what kind of practice was that?
LaViolette: It was a psychotherapy practice, but I continued to do training. The probation department hired me for probably, I think I worked for the probation department on and off for about a decade doing um, training for probation officers and people in camps for working with domestic violence.
Willmott: So did you do volunteer work then along with your private practice?
LaViolette: Yes, I continue to do volunteer work.
Willmott: Alright, the volunteer work did you actually work for the probation department or was that volunteer work?
LaViolette: No, no they paid me to do that.
Willmott: Oh, okay.
LaViolette: They paid me to do training. I mean I volunteered time, you know, talking with the probation department, but when I trained their officers, that was actually a paid position.
Willmott: Okay, and what did they pay to do? You said train their officers, train them to do what?
LaViolette: Train them to identify and work with people who were arrested for domestic violence.
Willmott: Okay, and what about, and then with your volunteer work, you did, did you do training with your volunteer work?
LaViolette: Yes, I continue to do training. I do training for shelters. Actually, I’ve done training for lots of people who requested it. I continue and have done training for churches. Um, a number of churches have had issues where they’ve talked about domestic violence in their congregations and they need to have some way to deal with that or to deal with anger, so I’ve done that. Um, I do training; most of the volunteer work I do now is training, although I am on the alumni board at Cal State Long Beach and so I do I review grants for them and done a little bit, we’re starting to meet with younger people and do some mentoring, I do that. I’m a reviewer, I’m on the editorial board of a peer-reviewed journal and I do peer reviews, and that’s volunteer.
Willmott: What peer review journal is that?
LaViolette: Journal of Child Custody
Willmott: Okay, um do you ever work in child custody issues?
LaViolette: I do, I consult usually with people when there are child custody issues. I’ve come in and done um expert witness or consulting with child custody evaluators or with attorneys in domestic violence cases and um and counsel battered women generally, and occasionally also I’ve worked with fathers who are going through domestic violence issues and working with them.
Willmott: Alright, and all this training that you do at churches and different areas, what kind of training is it? Is it all different kinds of training or what are you training people to do?
LaViolette: Um, it depends on the group. When I do training at churches, a lot of times, it’s to explain why battered women stay. It’s to look at gender issues with domestic violence. Sometimes there are counsellors out of the churches that want training on doing anger management. There are several church groups where they had a big enough congregation and they had people that wanted to be peer trained to do anger management groups. So I’ve done that. Um, it really depends on the group and what they want. I’ve worked in almost every area of domestic violence. I did training on teen dating violence, and that was volunteer in the high schools, and I’ve spoken in the high schools in California around and in Long Beach and different areas, and I’ve done that as a volunteer. And that would be coming out and talking to kids, talking to kids about dating violence, teen dating violence and what that looks like, and um resources that they might have and that kind of thing.
Willmott: Alright, and besides training to you do you do speaking engagements?
Willmott: What kind of speaking engagements do you do?
LaViolette: I speak at conferences. I do keynote addresses. I’ve spoken for educational groups. I’ve keynoted for therapy groups. The California Association of Marriage Family Therapists, I keynoted for their conference. Um, I’ve keynoted for, well I keynote for the Fatherhood, I’ve keynoted or done workshops for the Fatherhood Conference on parenting curriculum that I helped develop.
Willmott: What’s the Fatherhood Conference?
LaViolette: The Fatherhood Conference is put on by Children’s Institute International and Hershel Swinger, who has passed away, was the founder of that conference, and it’s really to encourage fathers to be the best fathers they can be, and for at risk dads, fathers who have grown up in gangs, or fathers who have, you know, have not been the best fathers, to really improve their fathering, and there are a lot of men who are very interested in that and come to those conferences.
Willmott: Alright, and besides um, that speaking engagement, have you been asked to speak outside the United States?
LaViolette: Yes, I’ve spoken in a number of countries. I’ve spoken in Japan, Israel, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, and then I’ve done some work for State Department of the United States, and those are video conferences. I just did one in Kathmandu, Nepal. I didn’t go to Kathmandu but I did a video conference there, and um Cape Verde in Africa and in Tel Aviv.
Willmott: And these speaking engagements, what is it that you are asked to speak about generally speaking?
LaViolette: I’m asked to speak about setting up domestic violence legislation, community organizing around development of battered women’s shelters and programs that are more holistic that address the entire family. Um, for the most part that’s it; they’re countries where people are just developing things, although Israel is quite sophisticated. Um, and when I go to these countries, I sometimes speak to the governmental groups on the creation of laws, because I have done some work on legislation as well.
Willmott: On the what?
LaViolette: On legislation.
Willmott: Oh, legislation, okay, and you said that you’ve done work with the Department of State?
Willmott: And for the U.S. government?
Willmott: What is it that you do?
LaViolette Those are the video conferences that I’ve done. I was also .. I was asked to go to Sri Lanka and Maldives and I was asked to go to Africa, but there was a very limited window of time and I couldn’t fit it into my schedule and so I wasn’t able to actually travel, so the video conferences were set up.
Willmott: So, when you’re speaking to these other countries, um is it the U.S. government that is asking you to speak to them?
Willmott: Is that what you mean?
LaViolette Through the State Department and the Embassies.
Willmott: Okay, okay. Um, and how long is that been going on, has that been going on through different presidencies?
LaViolette Um, during George Bush’s presidency and Barack Obama’s presidency.
Willmott: Alright, what about you said you did some work with the L.A. County probation department, have you done any further work with them?
LaViolette Um, just in terms of talking to probation officers about clients, but not, I haven’t done training for them. I think, I’m trying to remember the last time I keynoted the State Probation Conference and that’s about the last time. I also did a speaking engagement for female probation officers that had a specialized group and I did training for that group.
Willmott: A specialized group of what?
LaViolette Just female probation officers.
Willmott: Oh, oh, oh I see. Okay. Did you ever help to create any programs with the County Department, the probation department?
LaViolette Did I create programs?
Willmott: Yes, like design any type of domestic violence training?
LaViolette Well, yes, in 1980 in California we created a Diversion Law, and people were diverted from the system and sent to counselling. And so that was where I worked with the diversion officer and the supervisor of the adult probation department to develop the training for officers to be able to deal with this influx of new clients on this new issue.
Willmott: Alright, what about awards, have you ever received any awards in the area of domestic violence or well, in that area?
LaViolette Yes, I’ve received a number of awards, I’ve been very fortunate. I just received an award from the shelter that I worked at just this past year. It was called the Champion of Hope Award. I’ve received a Lifetime Achievement Award, I’ve received Proclamations from the County and the State; and I’ve received from the Soroptimist and other groups, awards.
Willmott: Okay, you know, and we’ve been mentioning California a lot, is that where you currently live?
LaViolette: I live in California. I’ve lived in California since I moved there in 67.
Willmott: Alright, and were you originally from Arizona, you said you went to Glendale Community College to begin with?
LaViolette: I moved to Arizona when I was ten, I moved from New Jersey to Arizona. I went to Sunny Slope High School and I come back for my high school reunions, and still have friends back here.
Willmott: Alright, but other than that, your business and everything is in California?
LaViolette: My business is in California, yeah.
Willmott: Okay, and so when you’re talking about helping to develop different probation trainings and things like that, that’s where we’re talking about, Los Angeles County?
LaViolette: Yes, and the State of California.
Willmott: The State of California, okay. Do you have published works; have you published anything in this area?
LaViolette: I have a book called “It Could Happen to Anyone: Why Battered Women Stay”. It’s coming out in its third edition in April. I have articles that I have written for the Journal Child Custody, I have a chapter in a book called “Domestic Violence Offenders”. I have
Willmott: Let me ask you the chapter in the book called “Domestic Violence Offenders”, what is it that you are writing about?
LaViolette: It’s called “A View from the Trenches” and it’s about, it’s sort of a twenty, twenty-five year retrospective, I can’t remember, but it was 2002, I think it came out. And it was a retrospective on batters intervention programs and looking at what we currently know and what we knew and some of the things we look at to measure success in programs and some of things we want to have happen in those programs.
Willmott: Okay, and the book that you said that you wrote about why battered women stay …
Willmott: Is that what’s it about?
LaViolette: Yes, it’s about why battered women stay.
Willmott: Alright, and when did you first write that, do you remember?
LaViolette: The first edition was in 1993, and it became a best seller for Sage Publications and so they asked us to write a second edition which we wrote in 2000. And then they asked to write a third edition, and my co-author and I are old enough that we don’t believe that a fourth edition’s going to happen.
Willmott: Alright, with regard to that particular book, how is it that you sit down to write a book like that, is it based on research, what do you do to have that information available to you?
LaViolette: My co-author is a researcher. I was not a researcher. My co-author would bring me piles of research basically, piles of articles. And I would have to read them and write them up in a way that could be understood and we used case studies in the book. We made the book something that we hoped that folks could read who were victims and perpetrators of domestic violence as well, but also people who were just interested. It’s used as a textbook currently in a number of universities back East. I was just, a couple of years ago, speaking in Hawaii and somebody from a small island near Sri Lanka came up to me and said that they used the book there. So I have no idea who’s all using it, but we feel pretty good about it cause people have liked it. And we’ve also, we’ve had attorneys who have used it in their cases.
Willmott: Okay, and clearly you’re here testifying, so do you do forensic work as well?
LaViolette: Yes, I started doing forensic work in 1984. I was asked by an attorney to explain why a battered woman would kill and why she stayed. My first trial in 1984 was a domestic violence homicide trial, and that time, the battered woman’s testimony was not considered. Um, it really wasn’t well thought of or well respected. And so I didn’t testify in that case, I consulted in that case. Um, but I know that I didn’t even know that this was a job. I thought it was a volunteer position, and when she asked me to do it, I said certainly I would be happy to do it. And I said I’m assuming it’s a volunteer position, and she said, no you get paid to do it. And so I was surprised.
Willmott: Alright, and since that time, do you know about how many cases you worked on forensically?
LaViolette: I’ve worked on about sixty cases forensically. I don’t do a lot of forensic work. I do usually about two cases, sometimes three cases in a year, depending on whether I am consulting.
Willmott: Why don’t do you do a lot of forensic work?
LaViolette: Because it’s very difficult for me sometimes to watch the process.
Martinez: Objection, relevance.
Willmott: Do you have your own practice as well?
LaViolette: My private practice?
LaViolette: Yes, I do.
Willmott: So besides coming here to testify, do you also have a private practice that you are running?
LaViolette: I hope so, when I get back.
Willmott, Okay, what types of cases, we’re talking about the forensic cases that you’ve worked on, what kind of cases have you worked on?
LaViolette: I’ve worked on homicide cases; I’ve worked on a stalking case, a kidnapping case. I’ve worked on child custody cases. Most of the cases I’ve done currently are child custody cases. Um,
Willmott: Let me stop you there, when you talk about child custody cases, is that a criminal case?
LaViolette: No it’s not.
LaViolette: It’s a family law case.
LaViolette: Okay, so family law cases; I’ve done um, two civil cases; one federal case, one post conviction case.
Willmott: Okay, and of the criminal law cases that you’ve done, about, who retains you? Do you have an idea who you work for more often, the defence or the prosecution?
LaViolette: I’ve worked for the defence about sixteen times, fifteen times, something like that. I’ve worked for the prosecution about nine times. And I’ve done some prosecution work that I don’t even think I have it on my CV, where I’ve just consulted with the DA’s office. Um, I’ve done three consultations for the district attorney in Los Angeles County, um, and I’ve just volunteered, I’ve done that. And I do volunteer mock trial for the district attorneys so they can practice with an expert witness and I do that. I’ve done that twice now.
Willmott: So you help the prosecutors in California get experience at cross-examining an expert like yourself?
LaViolette: Yes, I do.
Willmott: Okay. And do you have particular criteria that you use before you’ll decide to accept a case?
Stephens: Approach. Evening recess.