January 16th, 2016
In February of 2006 I had just returned home from an inspiring two months of meditation in an ashram, in India. I took a job as the clinical supervisor for an organization which treated male domestic violence perpetrators. My job was basically to meet with them individually and prepare them for these psycho-educational process groups, which were the primary mode of treatment offered by the organization, RAVEN (Rape And Violence End Now). The following is a letter I wrote the to the men that first week I was there. At the end of our initial meeting, I would read it aloud to them.
Some of you feel like you are victims. YOU ARE VICTIMS—but not to your partner or your family or the circumstances that lead to you being here. You are victims to what you have been taught about what it means to be a man! And therein lies your work. You must unlearn what you have learned. You must peal back the layers of identity that inhibit and blind you. You must break free of the ignorant past and awaken to freedom. Your freedom is your peace and your peace is your freedom. You cannot have peace while trying to control someone outside of yourself. You cannot have peace when you deny the peace of another. You cannot have peace by staying in abuse because you are “a man.” You cannot have peace by denying your own feelings in the name of stability and strength.
Your mind and heart work together. One cannot function wholly without the balancing of the other. Many of you have been taught to ignore your heart and seek safety through an aloof tower of thinking. Take time to pause your thinking and feel.
YOUR STRENGTH IS IN YOUR WEAKNESS. A path is being laid before you. It is a path of rebuilding. In order to rebuild there must be a period of instability, insecurity and weakness. Allow yourself to feel these feelings. They are the tremors of transformation. If you embrace the path you will deconstruct what has been constructed but can no longer serve you. Then slowly you can rebuild yourself and become something stronger and truer than ever before.
Much of the work you will do will be the overcoming of your fear. First you must find your fear—admit your fear, if to no one else yourself. Then you will have identified the core cause for your wish to control. All abuse emerges out of the wish to control. Your wish to control is your primary confusion. Clarity will come when you understand that your power of control is solely limited to the inner workings of yourself. And that all communication outside of your self can only be the giving to another an opportunity to choose, freely. This gift of freedom is your key to freedom. It is the key to your peace. Indeed having control over another is an illusion. When you believe that you can control something that in truth you cannot you consign yourself to slavery. You become controlled by your need to control. Your energy is drained by all that is required to stay in control or it is drained by the uneasy feeling of having another completely surrendered to you. You take life from another and slowly but certainly you lose your own.
Save your life! Save hers! Learn to prefer the company of another because she chooses to be there. Surrender to the reality of difference and allow the winds of change to carry you to higher ground.
A path is being laid before you it is a path of relationship—a relationship with yourself. It is an inner relationship that will be reflected back to you through the mirrors of the relationships in your life. Seize this opportunity! Awaken to the truth! Win your freedom. Win your peace. And discover a new power in the peaceful nurturing of the ones you love.