If you were to ask me several years ago, “Michael, are you abusive to your wife and kids”? I would have looked at you as if you were crazy.
I was considered a good guy by most perimeter people in my life; I was faithful, hard-working, honest, serving others, and trying hard to change for the better. But that’s not what my family experienced. There was always the stress of wondering, “what is dad going to do today?” A lot of secrecy and lying developed in our home.
I have been married to Janet for many years. I was madly in love with her, but my emotions would escalate when she would not follow my advice. I would grab her by her arms and hold her still because I knew if she would listen to me she would see it my way—the correct way. When she still didn’t conform, I would put her down verbally, becoming demeaning and sarcastic. I am big and loud and it worked for a while. When it didn’t l would grab her hair and pull her into the bathroom or bedroom.
A couple of years ago I began to realize I had to find away to overcome my abusive actions. My primary relationships were at a breaking point. I needed help. One day I was reading a book about abuse at work when a former client from the ARMS Mankind Program saw me. He said, “If you’re serious about learning how to be kinder, more Christ-like, and non-abusive, you should take this class called Mankind.” I called that same day.
In one of my classes they showed a video of a man emotionally victimizing his wife. Seeing what his wife went through, even before he got home, impacted me deeply. I saw a lot of what I did in that video.
I also remember learning about all the types of abuses and only recognizing a few that I did. My facilitators would ask me, “Are you sure, Michael”? I was at first a little upset they would insinuate that I did more, but I soon discovered as I honestly searched my heart that they were right.
Since taking the Mankind class I recognize a lot more abuse than I ever did. I have been taught at ARMS to embrace that my value is in my relationship with my Heavenly Father, and his son, Jesus. I can choose non- abusive methods of interacting and allow others to govern themselves, even when I don’t agree.
It is very liberating and feels peaceful. I’m not perfect, I still make mistakes, but I am trying with all my heart. The weekly lessons taught at ARMS Mankind Program really helped me learn how to talk and be with my family, friends, and co-workers, and not radiate distain, disgust, judgment, anger, or use power and control tactics.
My family is on the path of recovery from my abuse. Thanks goes to ARMS for the incredible services they provide in helping me and many other men discover the peace and love that comes from loving others as Christ would have us love them.