I had a client who came for anger management issues. He had children by a previous marriage but couldn’t see them except under supervision as he was considered violent.
He came to me because he was going to a court hearing regarding access to the children and he wanted to show the judge that he was taking action. He had no real intention of changing. In fact, I think the possibility of change was an alien concept to him.
I asked him if he could imagine having violent feelings and not carrying them out. He said no and that he thought it was impossible. I asked why he thought other people weren’t violent, and he said that it was because they didn’t feel in the way he did, and that if they did they would be violent too.
There’s a type of person who has no conscious control over their feelings. If they feel anger they will act it out, if they feel sexual arousal they will try to act it out. They are so unable to control their instinctual feelings that any logical argument as to why they shouldn’t do what they do is simply lost on them. With men it often results in violence and rape. In women it can manifest differently but here I want to concentrate on male violence.
I’m sure that many times the same men who commit violence against women are on the protest marches, marching in solidarity with the feminists. Talk is cheap which is why I’ve learned to take little notice of what people say and look at what they do. Marching in public won’t change these people. They are a small minority of the population but you only need one in ten-thousand to have this lack of control to turn a city of 5 million people into a place where women don’t feel safe.
The solution is that women (and men for that matter) need to be aware and alert. I sometimes ask women who have come out of abusive relationships why they went out with this person to start with. This is not ‘blaming the victim’ as some ignorant people think, it is allowing women to learn from their mistakes. If you don’t learn from your mistakes you are likely to make them again, and many women do, going out of one abusive relationship into another. I ask these women what their friends thought of their boyfriend at the time and often they say they didn’t like him. Sometimes they have an intervention to point out to their friend that they are making a big mistake but the refrain is ‘they don’t know him like I do’. Women have to be alert to the signs. They must also be alert when walking alone.
Everyone should practice a good martial art so they can defend themselves if they are attacked. I’ve heard ignorant people say that telling women to practice a martial art is ‘blaming the victim’! No, it’s simply acknowledging that the world is as it is and not as you want it to be.
With the client who had anger issues, we did some hypnosis and I asked him if he had a dog. He did. I asked if he smoked. He did. I asked if ever sat out on his veranda smoking with his dog by his side. He said yes. So I got him to imagine a hot night where there’s a charged atmosphere. No rain but an electric storm comes up, as occasionally happens here in Melbourne.
I asked to imagine that his dog gets spooked and in his fear bit him.
‘He wouldn’t do that’ he said.
‘Imagine he did’ I replied
‘I’d hit him’ he said
‘So your dog is frightened and you’re going to hit him? Shouldn’t you reassure him?’
And a change came over him that was quite apparent. It was as if he could understand that violence was not the only, or best, way or responding.
By Philip Braham on .