Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Domestic Violence, My Thoughts As a Man

Author: Serge Botans

Today is white ribbon day in Australia, a day to remember all the women who suffer (and have suffered) domestic violence and abuse at the hand of their husband or partner at home.

On this day, that really should not exist, I want to share with you my thoughts on domestic violence.

I want to share the one thing I have discovered that if men took heed to, then domestic violence would end.

But before I do, I want to share with you a little bit of my story.

When I was 10, I went to live with my dad and step-mum for a period of 5 years. During that time, I suffered physical and emotional abuse, the likes of which I will not share as it is not relevant to this article.

As I reflected on this abuse, over the years since, there was one underlining theme or point that became clear to me. And it is that I want to share with you.

I learnt a 2-part lesson from the abuse I suffered and I will phrase the 2-parts as though I am talking to my dad.

Part 1 is...

"Just because I did something that made you angry, does not mean that I did something wrong."

My dad did not understand that. His thinking was that, if he is angry because of something I did or said, then I needed to be punished... and punish me he did (with a leather cat of nine tails!).

But, this attitude really implies that it is my fault that he is angry. In other words, I am responsible for his anger because I 'provoked' it.


And this is where part 2 comes in...

"If you are angry at something I have done, then you are the one who needs to deal with it and not take it out on me."

One time he was so angry with me that he threw me against the wall. My head and feet were level with the floor! This is not a man in control of his emotions.

So, being angry to the extent that it leads to an act of violence really is a loss of control over one's emotions.

Now, you are probably wondering what all this has to do with domestic violence? Well, men need to understand that:

1. If their partner makes them angry, it does not mean that they have done something wrong.

When I was raising my daughter, there were times when she did things that made me angry. But having understood parts 1 and 2 above, I resolved to determine first if my daughter had done something wrong or if the anger was my fault in the sense that I over-reacted, misunderstood her intent or motive, took it wrong, and so on...

And I can say that 99% of the time, I was angry with her not because she had done something wrong but because I took it wrong, over-reacted, misunderstood her, and so on...

2. If men are angry with their partner to the extent that it leads to an act of violence, then they do not have control of their emotions and hence are the ones who need help to deal and manage their anger.

There is nothing wrong with being angry. Sometimes our spouse will 'make us' angry.

But an act of violence against our spouse or partner is more than an expression of anger.

It is blaming our partner for making us angry, it is an act of punishement for our partner making us angry, it is a way of releasing the strong anger feelings that want to find expression.

All of which are wrong!

When our spouse makes us angry, before we do anything else, we should ask ourselves: "why did what you did or what you said make me angry?" And go from there!

So men, let us be men and take responsibility for our actions, let us seek help if and when we need it, let us refrain from blaming our loved ones for our own problems, let us stop punishing those around us because we can't cope with our anger.

Domestic violence is not about 'it's all your fault!' It's about us men not coping!


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