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Warkworth Literacy Council Writing Contest 2018

In 2018 the Warkworth Institution Literacy Council held a writing content. The first, second, and third place entries are featured below.

Domestic Violence Is A Crime Against The Community

1st Place

I’ll start by saying that I was a male abuser so these are just my opinions. Domestic violence is a man’s problem, not a woman’s problem. There are many types of abuse that women suffer:

  1. Physical Violence
  2. Sexual Abuse
  3. Psychological or Mental Abuse
  4. Financial Abuse
  5. Threats of Abuse
  6. Male Privilege or Entitlement
  7. Children and Pet Abuse

A lot of men are brought up by thinking domestic violence is an acceptable behaviour because it can be learned behaviour. They become a product of their environment.

With domestic violence, there is always a beginning and an end. It might take a long time to get an ending but I hope after you read this article you can start to make changes that will lead you to an ending.

Not all abuse has to meet the criteria 1-7. The abuser just has to meet one of the criteria’s. I used to be a facilitator for a mandated court program for men that were abusers. I believe the abuse always starts with a first act or threat of violence. Nevertheless, deep down inside, men know they’re wrong and they say “I’m sorry and it will never happen again.” But they also know they liked it because they had the female in control. Power and control is an addictive behaviour that abusers thrive on. The abuse may not happen again for a long time which makes the victim believe that he has changed. He may become more loving and talk more. The sex may become better. It seems like he is a better man. This is called the “honeymoon” phase. The seduction begins. The majority of women who have suffered abuse in the past hope it’s over but it will happen again. Domestic violence or domestic abuse will continue until the abuser gets help.

A lot of women are trapped because the abuser keeps them isolated from friends and family. A lot of women have children and are financially dependent on the abuser with nowhere else to go. They have a life with the abuser and everything they have is in that house. Victims may be too embarrassed to tell anyone what’s going on. Therefore, they stick around hoping that one day the abuser will change. The victim becomes co-dependent on the violence and feels it is acceptable to be abused. Many victims are brainwashed to believe it is their fault and not the abusers.

No man has the right to harm, hurt or abuse any woman. It’s unacceptable. I’ve asked myself how can I help or what kind of advice can I give to a victim of abuse? I could say leave the situation A.S.A.P but many women don’t have money to make this change. I could say go to a shelter but that may be tough especially if you have kids. I could say change him but who is going to pay your bills? I could say go to a hostel but many abusers know where these hostels are. I am a convict who was an abuser but I know it is so tough to change past habits. I feel so sorry for women of domestic violence. I know the obstacles and challenges the victim must face in order to get out of her situation. This is not a woman’s problem. It’s a man’s problem and most of all it’s the community’s problem.

I believe if an abuser knows that he is being watched by the community and the community is helping the victims, it sends a message to all men that even though she may not report the abuse, the community can. It also sends a message to all victims that she has people that care about her. There is outside support available. My advice to all members of the community is to go to a church and encourage support for victims of domestic abuse. It has to be stopped and people in the community have got to stop turning a blind eye to this crime and instead say she is apart of my community and we will help her.

To all the men who are domestic abusers: I wrote this article for 4 reasons. NFL player Ray Rice assault where he got caught on camera, a friend of mine has suffered psychological harm from being abused mentally, I want domestic abuse to come to light in the community and to show women that it’s not their fault and there’s help out there. Lastly, to blast men that are abusers but also to offer them a glimmer of hope if they want to help. To the men: I want you to ask yourself a question in regards to the types of abuse I mentioned earlier, 1-7. Have you done any one of those things to your partner? Please be truthful to yourself. If you have done one of these things but didn’t hit or sexually assault her, you need help!

I want to tell all men that are abusers that I thought I was a tough guy and it turned out that I’m not. Prisoners in the federal system dislike men that abuse women and believe me, you will feel their wrath or possibly even pay some heavy consequences if you come to prison. How would you feel if your mother, sister or daughter was being abused? In order to understand the harm that you inflict upon your partner, you need to get help. You have to understand the physical and/or psychological harm you cause to your partner. It causes irreversible harm to a woman you claim to love. I used to say I love you so much, that’s why I did this or you made me do this. I truly believed I loved them and in my warped way of thinking, I really did.

The first step to change this is to say this is MY problem. Stop making “YOU” statements and replace them with “I” statements. Next you have to gain some insight into helping your behaviour. Simple things like take a “time out” when you feel your mood is changing. Go for a walk. Leave the situation and don’t come back until you’ve calmed down. Set goals for yourself. Your main goal is to not abuse your partner. Use other methods such as deep breathing and ask yourself, “If I continue to think and act this way, can I accomplish my goals.” Get psychological help to deal with past demons, learned behaviour or whatever the case may be. You have to learn equality and realize male privilege was in the past. No longer will those old double standards be accepted by the women of today. I want you to realize that your behaviour has lasted a long time and it’s not going to change over night.

Sure there are many programs out there. The federal prison system offers programs such as some sort of diversion program. They offer the abuser 48-60 hours of programs and then they say he is program complete. Is he rehabilitated? Let’s get it straight. Men that abuse women need way more than 48-60 hours of the Domestic Violence Prevention Wheel. It is a lifetime addiction that needs to be controlled with psychological counselling and possibly prescription medication like I am on. I offer any abuser my help. You can write me or leave me an email and I will try to help you become a better man. This is ONLY for the serious men that want to stop abusing women.

The Ray Rice incident was shocking and terrible but the only people that weren’t shocked were the victims of domestic abuse. Every minute in Canada a woman is suffering some sort of abuse that I outlined earlier. For every victim out there, there is someone who knows she is being abused and they aren’t saying anything which is a shame. If you don’t act, you might be going to her funeral or at least visiting her in the hospital.

To the victims: It won’t stop. Male abusers are out of control and need help. Ask yourself: Can I live like this? Do you have children who are witnessing and learning these behaviours? The children are victims as well. It’s all about the cycle of violence. Until an abuser is confronted with his egotistic values and beliefs that women are his property, he will continue the cycle of abuse and it will only get worse. Jail was the only thing that changed my thinking.

In order to stop domestic abuse, society has to educate. It is so tough to educate a victim because the fact is, she goes through it in silence. Women are threatened and brain washed that if she tells anyone, it will be twice as bad next time. Canadian citizens have to go to their politicians and ask for better social programs that will mainly deal with safety and support for the victims and to “de-program” the brain washing that the abuser did to his victims. I must tell the citizens of Canada that if you don’t offer severe psychological counselling for the abuser, the cycle will just continue with another victim. As a former abuser, it was easy to find another victim. I believe in change and I also believe that anyone can change but with every change there’s an exchange of past behaviour. Change is not easy for anyone. However, if society just stands by in silence, the change can never happen.

 This problem has been around for hundreds of years. It is time you stand up and say I will not let this happen in my community. Pick up the phone if you know someone is being abused and if they have children. It is a crime not to report the abuse of a child.

Any act of domestic violence is too much. I grew up with values and beliefs that is was ok to control your partner through abuse and violence: In every family I knew there was domestic abuse and violence going on. When my victim stood up against me in court I was mad but I realize now that she stood up and took the power back away from me “the abuser” and I believe they had to do that or I would have continued to be an abuser.

As you read this you continue to see the words of domestic abuse and domestic violence. Let me explain that I started out using violence on my two partners as well as abuse. Then I said to myself, just don’t put your hands on them but do everything else. So when she made me mad I would hurt her animals or I would threaten to take the children away and I remember one day my victim saying “Stop all the mental abuse and just hit me and get it over with!” I stopped and thought, wow! what the hell am I doing? As a man doing an indefinite sentence as a dangerous offender, let me tell you that I have met a lot of men in the penitentiary who have killed their spouses. I’ve asked them how it started and the first thing they say is, “I learned it from my father.” By the time they get to the end of their story they say, “I really loved her.” I know this sounds like a cop out and it can’t be true to me as a former abuser, a man that has rehabilitated himself through change of thought process and belief, I understand them. To the men who abuse women, penitentiaries are not a nice place to live. If you do not change your thoughts and beliefs, you could be in my situation and just like the many other men who are around me in here.

Corrections Canada offers a family violence program to inmates. If you killed your partner, you do a 3 month MODERATE intensity program. If you beat up your wife or partner you do a 6 month HIGH intensity family violence program. To be fair to C.S.C., they say a lifer and/or dangerous offender is not going home so they do a moderate program. If I’ve been declared a dangerous offender, why do I only qualify for the moderate intensity program? This makes no sense at all.

C.S.C. hires men and women to be facilitators but the only things they know about domestic violence is what they have learned in books. In order to deal with psychopaths or anti-social personality disorders that a lot of men in prison suffer from, C.S.C. should offer better properly run programs that are mandated by psychology or psychiatry. Once C.S.C. offers you a program, all you have to do is show up and the inmate will get a letter that says program complete. They drill these techniques into you but are forgotten 3 days later. Men do programs for mainly one reason and that is to get out of jail. If you dangle freedom in front of an inmate they will sit through these programs for 3 to 6 months just to go home. A properly run program for domestic violence should be run by psychologists and psychiatrists as well as men who were ex-abusers who should also be facilitating these programs. They would be able to call out the many men who are in denial or who justify their actions and behaviours.

They say that statistics are very low of abusers changing his attitudes and behaviours. They also say that the recidivism rate goes up after a first offence. Statistics also say that the program can’t change a chronic domestic abuser. I can’t argue with statistics but in my opinion, in order to change your thought process of instilled values and behaviours, you have to want to change. Change is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do in my whole life. You have to be open to trying new things.

When I was an abuser I had 3 kids and never knew the harm that I did to my children until I read my first wife’s victim impact statement. She said that my 2 daughters were in abusive relationships and my son became an abuser all because of her choices. I watched my mother being abused by my father and one thing I now know is children copy behaviours they learn at home. Power and control is fuel to an abuser. In order to escape an abuser you have to have a plan for eventually escaping. Have a bag packed and ready. During your plan, search the internet and find what information you need to get out. Do not tell your abuser that you are leaving and just stick to your plan.

If you phone him, write to him or go meet him, he will tell you he is going to get help and that he loves you. It’s all a big lie so he can get you back in his control and the cycle of violence will always start again and that’s my word as a man, as an ex-abuser. According to statistics in the U.S.A., 3 women lose their life to domestic violence each day. That is an outrageous statistic.

People have to understand that society can put men in jail for domestic violence but that doesn’t solve the problem. Abusers don’t think of the consequences or even about rehabilitation. I know this first hand. Programs can help, however, for me and most men that are abusers, we don’t see anything wrong with our behaviour. We believe that it was always the victims fault and we are in complete denial. The program information went in one ear and out the other.

It took many years for me not to be abusive towards females. How did I do it? It all started by meeting with a program facilitator, a woman who changed my thinking and the only reason why I listened to her was that my partner left me while I was in prison for a year. I had to find a new way of thinking because obviously my thought process was warped. Next I had to put myself in my victims shoes and understand the different types of abuse I was doing to women. I did about 2 years of therapy, including facilitating groups of men that abuse women. I thought I was cured because I didn’t use violence. Then it happened. Mike Harris took all the programming away in Ontario by cutting programs. I got really sick and suffered from Crohn’s disease. I suffered from severe depression and everything went out the window. I re-offended and it cost me my life. So in my opinion, that is the reason I believe that all domestic abusers need continuous aftercare programs or it is highly likely they will revert back to past behaviours of the abuse. You don’t just do a program and become cured. It is a continuously long effort to destroy past thought processes and behaviours that have been instilled in male abusers since likely childbirth.

I spent years alone looking at what I had done my whole life. It took me 19 years to change my thought process and hold women as my equal. It took me 19 years to completely change the 23 years of my learned behaviours and beliefs that men are the boss and women are to do whatever men want them to do. I can now say that not only I was an abuser but I was also a chauvinistic pig.

By putting men in these programs, you have to look at the lack of aftercare. For example, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous all have ongoing support groups. Each group also has support for family/friends affected by the addiction. The same ongoing support should be provided to abusers and their victims. Counselors who are treating the abusers should be involved with the victim to protect her. When I was a facilitator, I had to take an oath that if a woman was in danger by the abuser I had to report it to one of the main facilitators who would either talk to the abuser or call the police. The main point is to protect the victim.

If we don’t treat domestic violence as a twofold, protection of the victim with community support and counselling along with incarceration, proper run programs and aftercare for the abusers, the problem will always be in the community.

In order to break the cycle of violence, judges have to give longer probation periods and order the abuser to do continuous counselling and aftercare. There needs to be zero tolerance and a no excuse policy. Abusers will continue to abuse because they don’t know anything else.

This is a hidden crime that victims are extremely embarrassed to tell. Women are trapped and honestly don’t want to start a brand new life in a shelter. The community has to stick together if she won’t or can’t report it.

The good gain knowledge and with the bad you get stronger. I’ve lost my life from abusing females in my life in one way or another. I’ve been incarcerated consecutively for the past 15 years but that has made me into the man I am today. I am a strong, trusting, honest man that tells it like it is. I believe in equality and all I want to do is try to help people learn from my experiences of the cycle of violence. I will continue to write and try to help people understand the life and how an abuser thinks. I promise my readers, I won’t lie. Lying means not knowing. You’ll get nothing but the hard facts and truths.

This year I was turned down for my parole. Dangerous offenders don’t usually ever get out of prison. I have nothing to gain by writing these articles. However, I want to offer insight from a man that was an abuser. I want to give you hope that you too can change. I want the victims to know there is a way out. Please don’t judge. All I want to do is help human beings by showing them that I am human too.

I want to say that no woman in this world is the property of any man. Any man that abuses a woman does not truly love them. Every woman in this world deserves to be treated with class, love and respect because every woman is a queen.


Reality Calls

2nd Place

               Reality calls, as does my friend she is done with her chemo treatments and I should pick her up to take her home. We do this because neither of us sees the sense or mercy of parking fees at the hospital. We do this because we are friends and I will uphold her however she wants in this second bout with cancer.

               Reality calls, as the days lengthen to spring again. In the dark I wait quietly harbouring strength making plans for the garden again, crafting surprises for myself and friends. I venture out in the cold sunshine to replenish vitamin D and the sense of a world moving forward. Projects I never thought of in summer spring to mind and hand, I pull out supplies into forms of life and amidst the usual decluttering.

Reality calls, as I await signs that I will live forever they never come. The sliding decline had begun; it began after my first wail at birth. Now I am writing poetry because it is the simplest shortest way to say all the things I do not want to leave unsaid. Reality calls I wait for death to strike like lightening; like it filled my father as he was picking up pine cones the life flow going all to his chest none left for the scrapes on him as he hit the ground. Or course it could stalk me like it did my mother; she and we found out she was ill at Christmas and for a time we were optimistic. I remember the chemo stripping her of hemoglobin taking her to the hospital for a blood transfusion watching the long gaudy sunset on the fishing pier in front of the park where my mother lived and I was crying because I knew she was dying. That was Easter time, shortly after my brother persuaded her to live with him persuaded her off the chemo gave her a summer of slow decline. I remember the last game of Scrabble I played with her in December waking her from moonshine sleep for her turn which she took and scored well. My reality; I remember the last meal I cooked for her spending the time with her to give my brother and his wife respite and watching her eat egg with an appetite she hadn’t shown all weekend. Now it’s Monday and I had to travel returning to my work. She left that week with hard cries into the night. I think she never intended to give into Death. Reality calls and I feel the turns as they reveal themselves. Cake them with grace and not give into the dark. When my spirit takes its last steps it will be into everlasting light, reality calls out to all.


Time Is Of The Essence

3rd Place

               What is a guy to do with all this time? I would hate to think that I had just let it all go to waste. Time is so very relevant in our lives. How many times have you heard the saying; “life is all about the timing…”? Many, many times I’m sure, and it holds true in endless contexts. I’d like to take this small opportunity to try and quickly break it down and grasp for a better understanding of the true value in our time.

               We could agree that time is perhaps the biggest variable in life. In many ways time defines our lives. For better or for worse, time is tied to all that we do. If this is truly the case, as I believe it to be, it is fair to say that we might best be able to measure ourselves in what we do with, and how we handle our time? I feel that this is fairly accurate.

               Time has multiple faces. As prisoners, many of us wish the time away. For us time has been calculated to a sum that equates to a term deemed as punishment. It is simple to say that there will come a day that we will wish to have this time back to live as we choose. Obviously this wish is not a direct possibility. Time is a valuable entity that can never be replaced or duplicated by any amount of currency or wealth. However, we can enrich the time we do have in this life by how we choose to manage it.

               Maybe we should try looking at time as life’s medication: when used properly it can remedy almost any ailment, except for those which may be brought on by the passing of time itself. Just another motivator to spend our time wisely as we will never know when we will fall short of it. Years ago I came up with this saying: “Counting time is always a bad transaction. Don’t bother adding it up because you will always end up short!” I enjoy relating to things by metaphor if they are suitable, and this one fits the bill.

               One of times faces can literally be found on a clock. This device used to measure an otherwise completely intangible entity, uses what we refer to as hands, to collectively calculate what we will one day reflect on as our memories. Too much concentration on this time piece can hinder our ability to find peace with time.

               What we do with time to improve our quality of life while incarcerated may seem limited, and is certainly situational to every individual no matter where they may be in their own life. A challenge to put it mildly, but completely possible as it is done by many people each and every day. Everyone must identify their own methods of enrichment, but the foundation is built on staying positive and keeping your head up in even the most dire of situations encountered.

               So may I suggest that we do not spend too much time wishing for time to pass? When our time is up we will wish that we had done more with what we had. Whether one considers time a friend or foe, this answer will likely alter depending on the timing of its consideration. The underlying moral is that time is of the essence. Just something to be considered, until next time.