My name is Gareth and I have attended Relate’s Choose2Change for the last 18 months. I think the best way to describe my situation is to give you a brief account of my life and what changes have happened to me over the last 18 months.

When I first joined C2C I didn’t think I had a problem, I had been through many years thinking that the whole world had a problem and that my anger and my poor relationships were not down to me.

I worked in senior management within the printing industry, Money was good but family life was poor, I was very bullish, I now consider the old me a very arrogant person. I spent long periods of time away from my family and when I came home I was a monster, spent no time with them, drank a lot and argued a lot with my partner – so what changed?

I had separated from my wife twice in three years, both incidents of separation followed very volatile arguments where physical domestic violence was used, both incidents went through the courts, social services were involved also as I have two daughters, and still I didn’t think I had a problem. During the second incident I was living for a short while with my best friend and his wife, his wife sat me down one night, she said to me that she thought I had a problem and that maybe I should seek help on the C2C course. It took someone who I was not close to open my eyes a little, enough to attend.

I can remember attending the first meeting and leaving almost shell shocked, I was at the start of my journey towards realisation of my actions and how I harmed others. I was still full of negativity, in fact I was hostile to a whole host of people who were involved in what I perceived to be the breakup of my marriage. I suppose that first meeting I expected a back-slapping exercise, expected to sit down and taught how to control my anger, how to get what I wanted out of relationships – I was so Very Wrong.

As I stated, I was at the beginning of my journey, lots of the men on the course had been through what I had been through, but were far more advanced on their own journey. The back-slapping exercise never happened, instead I was confronted, challenged, I have to admit the first session for me was not a great experience but it intrigued me, was I in the right? Should I look at myself? Do they have a point?

Over the several months that followed I started putting myself in other people’s shoes, started to look at things from another’s point of view. This is something I had never done before, it was ‘my way or the highway’ I like to look back now and think of this as a Eureka Moment, I had been living a lie for so many years, I had destroyed my marriage, I had destroyed many friendships, I had put my blood relatives to the brink of disowning me, my work colleagues hated me, and I thought there was no problem? My life was in tatters, I had taken redundancy from work, I had no family, I had little friends but I had started to realise that the reason was – ME!!

Over these months my relationship with my Partner Sharon improved immensely, I found that I was able to communicate better, I was able to listen and to acknowledge other people’s thoughts. At C2C we are always taught that we cannot change other people, we can only change ourselves. It does take two people to fight and argue, if anyone spoke to my wife she would admit that she had been involved and sometimes at fault in a lot of our arguments, the thing is that I am so much bigger than my wife and am capable of inflicting a lot more anger than she is capable of. Because of the change in me we did find that it altered the way we dealt with things, communication was key and we sit down and talk about issues in an adult manner. I eventually moved back in and have been home now for over a year. I spend much more quality time with my family and I would say that we are now very happy. In truth it is lovely!!!!

I am now completing the end of my journey with C2C but I do not want to leave, this has nothing to do with me not feeling like I can manage without C2C support. I now see myself as through my journey and able to help and assist the course leaders challenging new members to the group in the hope that they can see the light as I did. C2C has changed my life completely, I am almost on a personal vendetta to end Domestic Violence in the UK. My thoughts now are that if we can get to men who are showing signs of DV early then we can work with them and hopefully remove the police and court requirements. Having spent time on courses run by probation this really has a lot more to offer, WE CHOOSE to be there and this is the difference.

 

If you want to learn about power & control, expressing anger, assertiveness & better ways of being in relationships, please get in touch https://www.relate.org.uk/cymru/help-domestic-violence