Since 1982 I have been working with men and women to stop the violence in their lives. I have found certain core issues in common for Domestic Violence partners. Both the perpetrator and the recipient of violence share the following characteristics:
- Both are frightened;
- Both have low self-esteem;
- Both are emotionally wounded;
- Both need to be emotionally healed;
- Both blame the other for their unhappiness;
- Both are unable to see how they give their power and responsibility for their lives to the other;
- Both expect the other to make their lives fulfilled;
- Both desperately want to be loved;
- Both are unable to give themselves love;
- Both are unable to soothe themselves when feeling frightened, disappointed, or hurt.
1. BOTH ARE FRIGHTENED
The Program helps men and women to get in touch with their fears. I’m not talking about physical fears, but about the fear of losing something that I have or not getting something I desire. The fear of not getting something or losing something desired arises as we interact with other people. Most of us don’t pay attention to that fear: it often happens on an unconscious level. However, it causes emotional pain, which goes to the emergency-escape-valve emotion of anger.
Anger is ALWAYS a secondary emotion. No matter who you are or what you’re angry about – anger is always the secondary emotion, preceded by the fear I described above and some other emotion. This other emotion could be: sadness, disappointment, shame, embarrassment, concern, and fear. It is important to note that the fear of losing something I have or not getting something I want ALWAYS comes before anger. A lot of times when people first come to the program they recognize that they’re angry, but don’t see the fear before the angerŠ but I guarantee you there is always fear before the anger. This is what happens as I’m interacting with someone: first I get frightened; then I get angry; finally, I retaliate. These are three consecutive steps, although it feels like they are all happening at once.
The program is going to help you with the first two steps: fear and anger. The Program will teach you how, when you’re angry, to take a time out and look for what you’re fearful of. When I look for what I am fearful of, I can address my fear and alleviate it. Then I would not need to get or stay angry. If I am not addressing my fear, my emotional pain needs an outlet and it shows as anger.
2. BOTH POSSESS LOW SELF-ESTEEM
Even if my self-esteem is in a good place, fighting with the person I love causes it to take a dive. I don’t feel good about myself because of the way I had to go about doing what I did. The Program is going to show you tools you can use to work through conflict in a way that you can feel good about yourself, about the other person, and about what you do/the actions you take.
What some of us do as a way of trying to work through conflict, is respect the needs of the other person, but we won’t respect or ask for what we want and need. When I am respecting the needs of the other person and not respecting my own needs, we call that being passive. When the other person keeps getting what they want, while I don’t get what I want, I resent that and I do something to turn the tables around. Now I’m getting what I want, but I don’t care how it impacts the other person. Then I use verbal, emotional or physical abuse to get what I want. We use verbal, emotional or physical abuse to get what we want from the other person.
Other people¹s way to resolve conflict is by respecting their needs but not respecting the needs of the other person. They think/may think: ³I’m going to get what I want; I don’t care if I have to knock you down or step on your toes.² When a person respects their needs, while they don’t respect the needs of the other, we call that being aggressive.
In the program, with the tools I am going to show you, you will learn how to be assertive when resolving conflicts. When I’m assertive, I’m respecting my needs, and I’m respecting the needs of the other person. So that after I’ve resolved that conflict, I’m going to be able to look them in the eye, and know that I’m treating them fairly. I am also going to be able to look myself in the mirror, and know that I’m treating myself fairly. Now my self-esteem is going to be higher, because I am able to resolve conflicts in a way that I am treating myself with respect and I’m treating the other person with respect. When I’m doing what I have to do to respect myself and the other person I won’t have to take those Œself- esteem dives¹.
3. BOTH HAVE EMOTIONAL WOUNDS
We all have emotional wounds. When people die, break up with us, break promises, say or do hurtful things, they cause emotional wounds. No one goes through life without experiencing emotional wounds. The Program will help you identify your emotional wounds, then show you tools you can use in order to heal those emotional wounds.
Emotional wounds have some similarities to physical wounds (for example, cuts), in other ways physical and emotional wounds are dissimilar. Emotional wounds are not that obvious: I can’t say, “you know, you have an abandonment wound on your shoulder, boy that thing is deep.” You can’t look at me and see my emotional wounds. We can’t look in the mirror and see our emotional wounds the way we can see our physical wounds.
We find out about our emotional wounds, as we’re interacting with another person: something is said or done and all of a sudden we feel emotional pain. Emotional pain causes a specific emotional wound (we can have more than one). If I don’t heal that emotional wound and go on, when something else is said or done, I will have more emotional pain. Repeated emotional pain that is unhealed turns me into an emotional cripple. I become unable to talk about the person who I think hurt me, without getting angry; I am unable to be in the same situation without being upset; I am not able to go to that place without feeling sad. I am no longer able to have full range of motion, so to speak, with respect to whom I talk about, what situation I am in, or the places that I go. The program helps you learn how to identify and heal those emotional wounds. Then I can talk about that person without getting angry; I can be in that place without getting sad; I can be in that situation without feeling upset. And as I am able to be in various places and situations and be able to talk about them without feeling emotional pain, then I know that I’ve healed my emotional wounds. But if I am still feeling upset or emotional pain, it’s just my being telling me that I’m still wounded.
4. BOTH NEED TO BE EMOTIONALLY HEALED
Emotional wounds are similar to physical wounds. By now you may have had cuts that you’ve neglected, and dirt got in the wound. Then it got infected and sore. When you just came close to touching it, it became very painful. But you’ve learned that if you get in there and clean the dirt out and keep it clean so it heals, you can bump into that wound and it would not hurt anymore. By delaying the cleaning of the cut, I prolong and intensify my suffering. I am also delaying the healing of the cut.
We need to do the same thing with our emotional wounds: to get in there and clean them out. Otherwise, we keep bumping into them and bumping into them, which cause us emotional pain that we blame others for. For example, I am with a person and get an emotional wound but I do not heal it. Then I leave that person and go on to embrace a new relationship. When the new person bumps into my old wound, I’m ready to blame my new relationship for that pain. In fact the cause for my pain is the old emotional wound that I have not healed. Had I healed that emotional wound from before, when bumped into, it wouldn’t hurt. One again, the program is going to show you how to identify your emotional wounds, and the tools you can use in order to heal those emotional wounds.
5. BOTH BLAME THE OTHER PERSON FOR THEIR UNHAPPINESS
In a relationship it’s very common for someone to blame the other person for his or her unhappiness. The Program helps you to see what you’re doing that is causing unhappiness. When I can see what I’m doing that is causing my unhappiness, I can change that. I can’t change what that other person is or isn’t doing, but I can change what I am doing. As I change what I’m doing, I gain the power to change my life. When my focus is on changing the other person (over whom I don’t have power), I am going to become exhausted and my needs would not be met. In this area, the program is going to help you to see what you do that makes you unhappy and how you can change that.
6. BOTH ARE UNABLE TO SEE HOW THEY GIVE POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR LIVES TO THE OTHER
We give away power and responsibility for our lives in a very subtle way and we don’t even realize it sometimes. This is what a person who surrenders their power to others thinks: “If you hit me, I will hit you; if you yell at me, I will yell right back at you; if you give me the cold shoulder, I will give you the cold shoulder.” If I’m thinking and behaving this way, then I am someone who’s giving all of my power away to others. This means that anybody can make me hit them, yell at them or give them the cold shoulder, anytime they want: all they have to do is do it to me first.
If I am behaving this way, then I am going through life reacting to everything around me, instead of responding. A reaction is an automatic, preprogrammed way of dealing with something. ³You hit me – I hit you² is a reaction. There is no thinking involved in a reaction. Quite the opposite, when I respond, I am able to see all of my choices, and then I pick the one that best suits my needs. These choices may be as many as, hitting back, calling the police, taking a time out, ending the relationship, insisting on counseling for me and my partner in order for the relationship to continue and so on.
Responding means to review my choices and pick the best one. Responding requires thinking. In reacting there is no thinking. The Program will help you see where you’re responding and where you’re reacting; where you’re giving your power away to someone else, and how to take that power back. By saying, ³that person is being a jerk, so that’s why I ‘m being a jerk,² I am giving my power away to the other; I am allowing that other person to determine who I am going to be, a jerk, in this example. This is how I let the other person control me. The program helps you learn how to take your power back. Then you will get to decide who you want to be, what you want to do.
7. BOTH EXPECT THE OTHER TO MAKE THEIR LIVES FULFILLED
In a relationship, it’s really easy to expect the other person to make our life fulfilled. The program helps you see what you are doing or not doing that is preventing you from feeling fulfilled. I can’t change what the other person is doing, but I can change what I’m doing. Once again, when I can see what I’m doing, I can change that, so I can bring fulfillment to my life. The Program will teach you how to do that.
8. BOTH DESPERATELY WANT TO BE LOVED
What I find that causes a person to desperately want to be loved is their inability to give love to themselves. They can say ‘yeah, I love myself.’ However, loving themselves is not equal to giving love to themselves. We all need love. Love is as essential for life as oxygen is. We will die if we do not get any oxygen. Likewise, if we don’t get any love, it’s going to feel like we are dying. If I am depending on someone else to get my oxygen (love) from, I will be desperate and may become abusive to make that person stay in my life. If I’m not able to give any oxygen (love) to myself I may allow this other person to say and do abusive things to me.
9. BOTH ARE UNABLE TO GIVE THEMSELVES LOVE
It does not matter if someone is the perpetrator of abuse, or the recipient. They’re two sides of the same coin. The coin is someone trying to get oxygen (love), from the other, because they are not able to give oxygen (love) to themselves. The program will show you how to give love to yourself. If I’m giving love to myself, then when that other person threatens to leave me (cut off my oxygen), I’m not going to feel like I have to make the person stay in my life. Rather, my response might sound like: ³Well, if that’s what you’ve got to do, why don¹t we think about it and talk tomorrow.²
By the same token, if I’m able to give love to myself, then when that other person is saying or doing something verbally, emotionally or physically abusive, I’m going to be able to put up a boundary. When I am putting up a boundary, I am not putting up with any form of abuse. Then my response might be: ³I don’t deserve to be treated this way. I’m not going to allow this abuse to continue. Let’s talk about this tomorrow.” Again, when I’m able to give that love to myself, I won’t feel like I have to allow that other person to be abusive to me, in hope that later, I’ll be able to get the love I want from them.
10. BOTH ARE UNABLE TO SOOTHE THEMSELVES WHEN FRIGHTENED, DISAPPOINTED, OR HURT
No one will go through life without feeling frightened, disappointed or hurt. The Program will show you how to soothe yourself when you are feeling this way. Imagine yourself swimming at the ocean. The surf is coming in and pounding you. The waves bounce you around, knock you down, and turn you upside down. Our life is like the ocean. The waves of things that life gives us cause fear, disappointment, or hurt. We learn one day that when the ocean wave starts to break, you can dive underneath it and the water ripples over you. Then you are able to pop your head up on the other side of the wave. This way the waves don’t have anywhere near the impact on you as they do when you stand there trying to resist or fight them.
We need to learn to do the same thing with our fears, our disappointments, and our hurts. Denying and resisting our fears is like fighting or resisting a wave. Working through fears emotionally is like diving under an oncoming wave. Then our fears, disappointments and hurts would not have anywhere near the impact on us as when we are fighting or resisting them with our anger, or numbing out, distracting ourselves, or using addictions.
SAFE serves Bucks County and near-by areas
e-mail inquires or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Anthony Bochnowicz
102 West Maple Avenue
Langhorne, Pennsylvania 19047-2820