Do you find yourself repeatedly making excuses for hurting the people you love, or minimising the hurt that you have done? If so, that is a real warning sign.
The generally agreed idea is that when we say, “I’m sorry, I won’t do that again” we mean, we’re sorry, and we won’t do something like that again. We prove how sorry we are, and acknowledge the hurt we have done, by consciously putting the energy into learning how to behave differently so there isn’t a next time.
As guys, it’s a sign we need to reach out for help if we keep hurting or abusing the people we love and saying sorry, and then just doing the same thing again.
If we just keep apologising and saying, “Sorry, I promise I won’t do it again … etc.,” but then don’t take responsibility for changing our bad behaviour, it makes sense that our partners and children will learn that we can’t be trusted, and we aren’t true to our word. Understandably, their respect for us will decrease too. Children are watching and learning from what we do, not just what we say.
One of the common things guys do when we are behaving in controlling or abusive ways, is to “minimise” our behaviour. In other words, we misrepresent what has happened to make it seem less serious than it is. For example saying, “I only hit you once” or “I only yelled at the kids” are aimed at playing down what has happened. If we hit our partner, we hit her. If you yelled at your children and made them scared, that is what you did. There is no “only” about it.
It can be hard to be honest with ourselves about the effect of our behaviour has on others, especially if our behaviour is abusive and hurting those we love. There is plenty of evidence that we can learn to change. There is excellent support available in our community aimed at helping men develop new ways of relating with respect and equality.
If you want to do things differently, and for your partner and children to respect you and not to be scared of you, it’s clever to ask for help.
If you want to find out more, you can contact: It is Ok to ask for help 0800 456 450; Abuse Prevention Services – men’s programme, 425 8130; Homebuilders Family Services 425 7048. Support for women: Hestia Women’s Refuge 425 0452.
Quentin Jukes, Coordinator