50 ways to say no to abusive behaviour within relationships

I have finally found time over the past few weeks to get this new book out the door. My last self-help book, Feeling Angry, Playing Fair is now out of print and I have noticed there is little out there in the way of written practical support for men struggling to overcome abusive practices that have  infiltrated their lives. I am also acutely aware of how few men end up in programmes to address these issues. The book will soon be an e-book on Amazon.com. I will let you know when it is available.

50 ways to say no to abusive behaviour within relationships: A guide for men struggling to be safe within their relationships, will be a useful adjunct to men attending stopping violence programmes, for counsellors and therapists working with men who are struggling with issues, and for partners of men who are trying to understand the work that their partner is doing or needs to do.

Below is the opening section of the book.

Getting into the game

If you are reading this book you are either struggling or know someone who is struggling with abusive practices. Over the past 30 years I have worked with literally hundreds of men who have struggled to overcome the lesson they learnt in their families: “Abusive practices are okay and work to get you what you want.” Maybe you too are looking for answers to the question around your use of abusive practices. I want to say that despite the messages we get as men that using abusive practices is okay (men’s violence towards women has a long history which I have described in other places), abusive practices are bad news for everyone and impact in negative ways on everyone involved.

The good news is that these are learned behaviours and with persistence and effort it is possible to overcome these and have a good life. A good life has huge benefits for us as men as well as all of the other people who populate our lives. As you work through the following pages you will gain three core skill sets: understanding more about yourself, proven techniques and skills to get abusive practices out of your life, and skills to greatly improve the quality of your relationships with others. The one thing that clearly wrecks a relationship is the use of abusive practices. But you know that anyway, so let’s move on.

Look at the list below and identify which of the behaviours you have used in your relationships. Be as honest as possible. It is not easy facing up to situations where we have hurt others. but unless we do we cannot do the depth of work and move on with our lives.

Place a tick in the box next to behaviours you have carried out during the past six months. Place a cross next to thoughts and behaviours that you may have carried out previously. Try to answer as honestly as you can.

  • I have concerns about what I do when I become angry.
  • People say they are afraid of me at times.
  • I am afraid of what I might do to those around me.
  • Others tell me I am an angry person.
  • I call people names and criticise when people don’t agree with me or don’t do things my way.
  • I criticise how others look.
  • I insist on having the last word.
  • I force my decisions onto others.
  • I keep important information secret.
  • I ignore, sulk, walk out, storm out without discussing things.
  • At home I make big decisions without talking to others.
  • When I am angry I keep it inside and smoulder.
  • I come from a family where I saw violence between my parents.
  • I was physically punished as a child.
  • I have been rude to my partner’s friends.
  • I have hit out in moments of rage.
  • I have threatened others.
  • I have threatened to harm myself.
  • I feel threatened and become abusive when others disagree with me.
  • Others have had to receive medical attention as a result of my anger
  • I have forced others to do things they did not want to do.

You are not alone if you answered yes to any of these statements. Hundreds of men in groups I have worked with have made the decision to be honest and face the truth in these statements. It is not easy to admit behaving in ways that hurt others. It takes a lot of courage and strength.

When we as men begin to share our stories with each other we often find that we have shared experiences. We have been hoodwinked by our upbringing into believing that men should be strong, silent and resilient. We have not been encouraged to tell our stories and reach out for the kind of help and support we need. Times are changing, and daily I come across men who are prepared to stand up against the dominant story of silence and speak about themselves.

This book will be one useful tool for you when you begin to explore your story. Working in isolation is not always the best way. Some men find it useful to have the support of other men who are also working through these issues. Phone your local health centre or Stopping Violence Services for information on local services.

Whether you are beginning or already well on the way, this book will give meaning to your experiences and help to affirm the changes that you have already made. I find it useful to re-examine aspects of my own behaviour from time to time, as this sustains me in resisting the invitations to relapse into old ways of behaving.

Published on Monday, September 10th, 2012, under Announcements, Family violence

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