At the Edge of the Cliff: Men Who Have Been Violent

You’ve been that guy. The one who scares people, who lost control. Maybe you raised your hand to the person you love or maybe you frightened your kids. Maybe you punched back, first in self-defence and then kept going in rage. Now the people in your life look at you differently. They are cautious around you. You want to yell, “I’m not that guy! I’m a good guy.”

You’re confused and ashamed. You don’t want to be that guy. This doesn’t square with the image you have of yourself.

And yet there it is. You’ve acted in a way you never wanted to act.

You have no clue how to rebuild trust with the people you love. And you aren’t sure you can trust yourself.

You can rebuild trust, first with yourself, and then with the people in your life if they are willing to meet you. But first you have a challenge and that challenge can feel like you are standing at the edge of a cliff.

You can deny the possibility that you will ever go there again. You can dismiss it as a one-off, a fluke, a shameful mistake that you will bury away. And maybe it is a one-off. But a voice inside of you will always wonder. And so you can teeter at that cliff’s edge and live with that gnawing precariousness.

Or you can look your situation and your actions squarely in the face and accept that, since it has happened once, it could happen again. This is how you secure the harness around your body and start the careful decent down the cliff’s face.

This is where I come in. My job is to help you down the cliff’s face. If you have found yourself on the edge of that cliff, contact me. I can support you, challenge you, offer you different perspectives, and question your assumptions. And I can actively look for the best in you and remind you of it when you are low.

My commitments and beliefs:

  • I distinguish between the behaviour and the person. I do not condone violence of any kind but I do not condemn people who have used violence either.
  • I believe we are all capable of harming others. I may not have acted in the same way as you but, like everyone else, I have that capacity within me.
  • I also believe we are all capable of great goodness. There is more to you than the actions that have hurt others. Like all of us you have skills and dreams, values and commitments.

Here is how it will likely unfold. First you will need to tell what you have done. I honour the incredible courage it takes to tell someone your worst actions. I can hold it without shrinking away. And when it is laid bare, we can start to better understand what happened, what role you played, what lead up to the events, what behaviour patterns you might fall into automatically.

Together we can work to

  • understand what brought you to that point without making excuses
  • build skills to assess your stress level
  • identify situations that might provoke you
  • explore your body responses to different emotions
  • practice pausing before responding
  • learn skills to calm down

You will take this learning home between sessions and practice. Over time, you will build your confidence and start to trust yourself again. You will begin to quiet that voice inside that questions your integrity, your worth and your capacity for good. Your actions will show your integrity, your worth and your capacity for good.

From this grounded and confident place you can choose your responses to whatever life throws at you, rather than reacting and, inevitably, regretting some of those reactions. Will you be perfect? No. But you will have awareness of yourself and the skills to steady yourself and act with integrity.

In my experience, when men in counselling get clear on even a small part of what they can do to change their situation they are remarkably capable of taking the necessary steps, however intimidating. I am humbled by the resolve, initiative and drive I witness in working with men.