Yes, there’s more than one of you. You’re not alone. But don’t take any comfort in that. What you do is wrong. There may be reasons for what you do, but there is no excuse for it. Your behaviour may be understandable, but it is never justifiable. And yes, there are women who abuse and batter men. But there are many more of you than them. (Although these words are meant for them, too. There’s no more excuse or justification for their behavior than there is for yours. Either way – either direction – it’s just plain wrong! And it’s got to stop.
That may be hard to do for you. Maybe you’re not strong enough to stop. Maybe you’re too weak to control your own behaviour. (Maybe that’s even why you do it. Maybe deep inside you know you’re weak, or have been told you are, so you act tough with her because you can get away with it, and somehow it makes you feel better. For a while. For the moment.) But it’s still got to stop.
If you can’t do it alone, you’re not alone. Or if you are, you don’t have to be. Get some help. That may be hard for you to do too. Not because there’s no help available (there is), but because you work so hard to keep your abusive behaviour a secret (which itself is evidence that you know what you do is wrong). Yet right here is a helpful truth: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but an act of strength – a sign of courage.
I know you didn’t ask for this article, but even these words are meant to be helpful to you, not primarily to judge you. If you’re honest with yourself, you already know what you do is wrong. I write this to get your attention, and to encourage you to change, and to encourage you to get help if you need it. And … because you’re worth it! I believe everyone is. It’s sometimes hard to see, or even to believe, but I do continue to believe that everyone – at heart – has goodness and value within them. You’re not a bad guy; it’s that you do bad things. And you, as well as she, deserve better. And change is possible. Better is possible.
If you need help, where can you get it? Here are some suggestions. (1)Talk to your doctor, or your pastor if you have one. In both cases, it’s usually confidential. (2)Talk to a friend, or even two of them together. Here in our valley the “Men Together” Initiative has over 100 males who have pledged “never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and children”. They’re all telling you to stop your abusive behavior. Many of them are also ready to help you do so. If you want a list of them, let me know. You’re likely to find among them someone you already know and trust. (3)Go to a counselor. Currently there’s a free counseling service – the “Change for Good” Program – available for men who want to stop their abusive behaviours. Here’s their contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org 250-488-5939. (Presently, funding is being pursued to continue this program. If unsuccessful, counseling may have to be paid for privately, or sought through BC’s Interior Health or other sources.)
Here are a few more sobering facts. They may help motivate you to take action.
1. Spousal assault is a crime. You can be arrested, go to jail, lose your family.
2. It’s harder to keep your behavior a secret. As community awareness increases, more people – including your own friends, neighbors, and family members – are reporting this behavior and their suspicions to the police, and finding the courage to do so.
3. It’s not a private issue. People are aware that abusive behaviours in your home also affects them. We’re all concerned for the well-being and future well-being of our friends, our mothers, our sisters, and our kids, and we’re speaking out. More and more, spousal and child abuse is intolerable.
4. “But I never hit her.” Even verbal, emotional, and over-controlling abuse is violent behaviour. And unaddressed, it tends to escalate both in frequency and in severity. It can be deadly. Now is a better time than later to stop it.
5. Children who witness abuse are often deeply affected and hurt. They may also learn to carry the pattern into your family’s next generation, or even sooner with bullying behaviors at school and assaultive behaviour on dates. (You may recognize this as part of your own childhood experience.)
6. More men are finding the courage and strength to stop their abusive behaviours, and become healthier and happier persons. You can too. Your family deserves it, and so do you.
Remember, you’re not alone. We’re counting on you: Be a real man. Show courage, not meanness. Take control of yourself, not others.
– Ron Shonk