Posted by: joshjasper | May 17, 2011

Be Yourself

The scene plays out each and every day in any given school in our country, and again in the homes of our neighbors, friends, and family. The pain that is felt is incredible. Lives are being destroyed. It’s hard to watch, and even harder to know that something must be done, but little to nothing ever is that has lasting power beyond the efforts of a few.

I often think about the people inflicting all of this pain. It’s easy to feel disgust, anger, disbelief, and to wish them away. But the reality is that they are here and without any type of intervention, they will undoubtedly continue to abuse others. My hate and discontent for their behaviors does nothing to affect change. And isn’t that what this is all about? If I really am invested in ending violence, shouldn’t some of my focus be directed toward the people who are actually responsible for so much pain?

So I wonder why. Why does the bully pick on his peers? Surely he sees the pain he is inflicting and he most certainly has a conscience. So why? What about the guy beating up his wife? Why does he continue to hurt the person that is closest to him?

I endlessly talk about the influence of power and control in unhealthy relationships and how we as a society learn violence, but there must be more to it…a lot more. I believe sometimes people are often hiding behind their abusive behaviors, in hopes of masking their own pain.

More often than not, the bully is in a lot of pain himself. I remember being there. I was the bully and I had no interest in hurting others, but was simply trying to make sense of the hate and anger I felt for others for being tormented for so many years before.

I think about the men and women that I work with in the victim impact panel that are mandated to attend because of their abusive behaviors. If I look hard enough; beyond the tattoos, the profanity, and threats, I see pain. I feel anger for the crimes they have committed, but I cannot turn away from the empathy I feel for some of them that have been the victim as well.

I want to have a real conversation with these guys. I want to validate their painful experiences while encouraging them to take responsibility for the their actions, in hopes that they will change. I want them to feel the pain they have inflicted, but to also break through the numbness of their feelings to get at their true selves. I want to empower them to be themselves…their true selves, and reassure them that what they will find is someone much better than before.

“To be yourself, it’s all that you can do.”


  1. Great points, but sadly I think some people do not have a conscience. Or their conscience only applies to themselves and rationalizing the hurtful effects of their actions.

    Many abusers have no problem blaming the victim, and sometimes I think they actually believe it, thus rendering their conscience irrelevant. Unfortunately, society and the media often encourages us to blame the victim too.

  2. Bill-
    Thanks for the great comment. I agree with your points. Sadly, victim blaming is pandemic throughout our society. One of the first things that survivors report to us in counseling is that they feel guilty or shameful for being abused. We work very hard to convince them that what they experienced was not their fault.
    We’ve got a lot of work cut out for us!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: