Posts Tagged ‘domestic abuse’

I heard the words. How could I not? I was looking straight at him and in his eyes. He was staring back at me but could not hold his gaze. He smiled slightly and quickly looked down at the table. He fiddled with a piece of paper and looked around quickly. He would not look back up at me even though I had not moved and was still looking at him.

I felt as if someone had just thrown cold water on me. I felt chills go up my back. My stomach turned a bit. The room was quiet all of a sudden. Heads snapped towards this man who had just spoken the rawest truth I had heard in a long time. His truth.

I heard some rustling as the other men began to react to what he had said. I stepped back and looked at them. I smiled slightly and put my hand up to tell them to not react. Some were shaking their heads at what they had heard. Others glared at him and some looked away, ashamed for him and at themselves.

I walked back behind my podium. I felt everyone’s eyes on me, waiting to see what I would say and what I would do. After all, I’m a woman who is working with men who had been convicted of domestic abuse.

They were expecting me to react. They expected me to get upset.

And for a moment, I wanted to.

But that would defeat the purpose of getting someone to talk and be honest. If I reacted because someone was honest and I had guaranteed that I would listen to what they had to say, then what good am I?

I looked back at him. He was still looking down and began to rub his face. He was embarrassed by what he had said.

“How do you figure, Sam?” I asked.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,” he said. He looked up at me quickly and then back down at the table.

“No, you said it. Now explain it to the rest of us,” I said. “I’m curious about your line of thought, but from now on, no more swearing. She’s not a bitch; she’s a woman. Can you remember that?” I asked and waited.

“Yes ma’am. I’m sorry,” he said.

“How come you think she deserved it?”

“Because she knew what pissed….I’m sorry….what made me angry, but she would do it anyway. It was all her fault.”

Many of the men began shaking their heads. Some muttered under their breath while others nodded. All remained quiet and waited.

I was suddenly interested in what he had to say and where this would go.

“So it’s OK to hit people if they make you angry? Is that right?” I asked.

“Some people, yes,” he said.

And so began a long journey into the mind of an abuser. The more he talked and was blunt, the more that came out from him and others.

After that class, I called the Program Director to see if I could get information on Sam’s wife and what had happened. She was not in the system so was not someone who would be in any of my classes but that was just a rule. It had nothing to do with me as far as I was concerned.

A week later, Sam’s wife called me.

“Can you help him?” she asked.

“That’s not the point of my call,” I said. “It’s up to Sam if I do or not. I’m calling to help you.”

“Oh, thanks but I’m fine,” she said.

“No you’re not. You’re far from fine and it’s about time you admitted it,” I said. “You haven’t been fine for a long time, have you?”

There was silence and I waited.

“No,” she said. I could barely hear her.

“When are you going to fix you? That’s the question I want an answer to.”

“I don’t know what to do…” she said. I could hear her crying quietly.

“Let’s see what we can do with you and not worry about Sam.”

And another long journey began, but this one was in the mind of a victim.

Two opposite journeys that were intricately connected. You can’t have one without the other.

Sam’s wife was allowed to join my classes with battered women even though she was not an inmate.

It was against the rules, but I disagreed with the rules.

So did the Program Director.

She was no longer alone. She was no longer ashamed. Because Sam was locked-up, she had the time and help to figure things out for herself. The women welcomed her and pushed her to look long and hard at her situation.

In their own way and with only the way they could help, she slowly pulled herself up out of the gutter and regained her pride and self-respect.

She divorced his ass and walked away with her kids.

Sam learned enough to leave her alone and let them be.

That was the one smart thing he did in his life.