If there is one message I truly wish to impart to anyone who has been reading this series, it is this: you can heal from the effects of trauma, even devastating trauma, and there is hope for you and/or the person you love. And so, it is important that we do all we can to recognize the effect of trauma on our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
To summarize these four articles, the questions that need to be addressed are:
· How do we talk about men’s violence and their experience of trauma in a meaningful way?
· What do we need to do to have a positive effect on men changing their violent and abusive behavior?
· How can we help men see their own pain and suffering, and then create places where they can feel safe enough to talk about these things?
The truth is, you absolutely cannot talk about men’s violence without talking about men’s trauma. To even attempt to do so is irresponsible.
There is no question that this is a difficult topic to address. It can be very scary for men to talk about abuse and trauma; most of us will not even use the word “fear,” certainly not at first.
Do you think you might be living with untreated trauma? If so, here are some questions that can help you find an answer:
• Do you yell at other people or put them down in mean and hurtful ways?
• Do you find yourself mistreating your partner and sometimes feeling as if you are possessed or two different people?
• When you feel close to someone, do you often find yourself shutting down or becoming full of rage toward him or her?
• Do you mock your partner or become very uncomfortable when he or she cries or expresses vulnerability?
• When you feel sad or hurt, do you often turn to anger or rage or isolate in depression?
• Do you overreact to conflict with extreme engagement or avoidance?
• Are you easily startled?
• Do you find yourself struggling with violent thoughts on a regular basis?
• Do you push others away with sarcasm, ridicule, or abuse when they are getting too close?
• Do you push away people you love and care about by using anger to protect yourself from being hurt?
• Do you have visions or fantasies of hurting those you love?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider getting professional help if only to explore any questions you have or to get more information. If you think you may be suffering from the effects of trauma, go see a professional who is trained in treating trauma.
Sometimes the damage is painfully obvious and sometimes it is subtle, hidden, and insidious. I have no doubt that most of the violence, aggression, and rage we see in this world comes from unrecognized and untreated trauma. That violence is unacceptable and inexcusable, but it won’t end until we see it clearly and address it with both compassion and accountability.
By doing the personal work, I have been able to put all of my past experiences into perspective and have been freed to create a new narrative for my life. My narrative has changed dramatically, especially in the past seven years. Again, you cannot will this to happen—you have to dig down deep, grab the strongest hands you can find to help you, and do the work. Over and over. But it is worth it. There is no way out but through and on the other end is a life you cannot even imagine. You will know a new freedom and a new peace.
I have been getting a lot of people thanking me for writing these articles and speaking openly about these issues. I hope it generates a lot more men writing about the topic from as many perspectives as possible. This is where we have to start: by eradicating the stigma of men talking about abuse, while making sure we also connect it to men’s violence and acknowledging when we have been perpetrators of abuse. The most important advice I can give is to take the journey; you will never regret it, though there could very well be times when you are in such pain you wonder if it is worth it. I can say without hesitation that it is, and it will always be. That is a Promise.