First of all I want to thank Steve for approaching me to be interviewed, I can understand that this may not be easy. I ask that readers read the whole interview and be open minded here. I have to admit this is a first for my blog and I have spoken with Steve for quite some time, he is supportive of the work I do and has expressed his thoughts and feedback throughout this time. There are perpetrator courses available and do have a small success rate, its refreshing to be able to have a successful client speak out.
Tell us a bit about you, what are your hobbies and interests?
I’ve always been passionate about the written word, reading, writing, blogging, building websites, I built my own some years ago…I enjoyed the process of using others tech, even though I didn’t have the first clue what I was doing. It was an achievement of a sort.
I’m still passionate about words, I joined the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) just over 12 months ago. Mark Twain once wrote: ‘’Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too can become great.’’ Timely words, for that part of my journey.
What was your relationship like, what did you do that you consider as abusive towards your ex?
Our relationship was loving, but then difficult at times. We both tried in different ways to make things work, but circumstances made it difficult. She’d been in an abusive marriage for 12 years before I met her, I’d had issues of my own. Neither of us had had time to work on them, especially to be in another relationship.
I assaulted my Wife, kicking her on her lower leg, screamed the worst obscenities at her, it seemed like an age, but was over in less than five minutes.
How did you come to realise that your behaviour was abusive? How did you feel?
Once I’d calmed down, I felt terrible. It was more of ‘’poor me’’ I think looking back. I knew our relationship would never be the same again after that. It was what I’d lost, the more time went on that day, and afterwards I truly was concerned for her. But I was dumbstruck. I couldn’t believe I’d done it.
Did you approach your ex about your realisation? Did you apologise? How did that go?
My Wife forgave me the day I assaulted her, we’re both Christians. But she did say, actions have consequences. I did apologise to her for my actions.
How have you changed and did you receive support? Did you go on any courses?
Friends of ours suggested I go to a Christian retreat on the Wirral to ‘sort my head out.’ It was while I was there, I saw a pamphlet on domestic abuse. On the back panel a sentence: Do you feel you are a perpetrator? That’s when I realised I was.
There were details for Respect Phoneline. I called them on my return…after speaking to a guy for over an hour he asked me: ‘’What do you want?’’ I replied: ‘’I want to change from the person I’ve become.’’ He gave me details for Relate GMS who run Bridging to Change a male perpetrator Domestic Violence Prevention Programme.
After waiting six weeks, I started my 1to1 sessions. Ten in total, weekly for an hour at a time. I completed seven before I was judged ready for the Group proper. And then, my journey really started.
Bridging to Change isn’t a course, it’s a Programme. It’s eight months of pain, yes pain. You have to connect to that pain to change your behaviour. Going over your worst abuse, weekly, for two hours each week. Plus, homework, and signing a contract that you have to live up to week in, week out, for eight months.
I feel it’s a total rewire, a learning of new behaviours, understanding about me, where anger comes from. It’s important to learn about your own Level One and use the strategies you learn so you don’t reach Level Two. Level Three is too late.
What do you do now?
In August 2014 I started @StopDVaWomen. Why? Because I don’t want another woman to experience what my Wife did. That’s my passion.
I’ve spoken at these events:
- At the invitation of Greater Manchester Police, at a White Ribbon event about STRIVE to Police Officers, professionals and the business community.
- At the invitation of Relate GMS speaking of my journey on the Programme to professionals.
- At the invitation of Talk Listen Change (former Relate GMS) at a fundraising event.
- Attended and gave a brief talk at Voices 4 Victims event, Stoke.
- Invited to speak at the Domestic Abuse Conference 2018, Liverpool.
If you were able to give a message to all perpetrators out there, what would it be?
As a former perpetrator of domestic abuse, I’d urge any person whether they feel they’re a perpetrator or not to look closely at themselves.
Domestic abuse is prevalent in all social classes, to all creeds and nationalities. It doesn’t discriminate. Whether you’re a Police Officer, dustman, teacher, doctor, solicitor. It can happen to you…you can be a perpetrator.
Does your partner always agree with you? Do they shy away when you get close? If so, ask yourself…should you seek advice and help? There’s details at the end of this piece.
I always said I’d never hit a woman…and then I did. Enough said.
If you were able to give a message to all victims out there, what would it be?
To any person who feels they experience domestic abuse or know someone who is…get help. Are you seeing a new partner? Have your heard about Clare’s Law? Contact your local Police and get them checked out…it’s free.
Is there anything else you would like to say…
I’ve been asked by my ex-Wife, would I do it again? The honest answer is, I don’t know. I don’t want to. But with the strategies I’ve learned in eight months of Programme, I’m aware, I know how I feel, and I adapt to those feelings. I’m a work in progress.
Finally, I ask men, being a man myself. Look at your own behaviour. How do you treat the women around you? Do you ogle and think of them as your next lay? Any other thoughts you couldn’t tell your own partner or pastor?
When we start treating women as equals, we may, just may, begin the end of domestic abuse.
Steve would like to thank the following organisations:
Talk Listen Change: Bridging to Change – Domestic Violence Prevention Programme
Greater Manchester Police – Public Protection Unit
Voices 4 Victims conference – Stoke
Domestic Violence Conference – Morecrofts Solicitors
Thank you Steve for spending the time in answering my questions, I have to admit I was itching to ask these for my own interest. Thank you for the time you give to speaking out about your experiences.
If anyone does have any questions then please pop them in the comments below and I am sure Steve will get back to you in response.
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