NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Many people think of domestic violence as brutal beatings that occur over a long period of time. But that is not always the case.
CBS 11 News wanted to get a different view of domestic violence — a look before it escalates out of control. We sat down with a North Texas man who admits to abusing his wife. He shares his story of how a certain type of therapy changed him, saved his family and how he believes it could help countless others before they reach the tipping point.
“I am here. I am an abuser. And that is a very hard thing to say,” the man said plainly. Our interview subject agreed to a video interview but asked that his face and voice be disguised. For the purposes of this story we’ll call him “Bob.”
At this point, Bob says he wants to protect his family, but admits it’s something he hasn’t done for years.
Bob, a husband and father of four, said he was abusive for much of his 5-year-marriage.
“Gestures, facial expressions, flipping things over, pushing things aside, slamming doors — those are all abusive behaviors,” he explained. “Yelling in their face, yes. Towering over them, yes. Screaming. Talking louder than them until they stop talking. Your nonverbal actions are just as important as the things that you say or do that could cause another person to act a certain way to accommodate you and not be who they are.”
When the abuse turned physical, Bob’s wife called police. He was arrested and charged with assault causing bodily injury.
A judge then ordered that he take part in the Battering Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP) at The Family Place in Dallas.
“When you first come, the thing that shocks you is that you’re entering a program that addresses it, just what it is: as abuse. Then you have to learn to accept the fact, that abuser is you,” Bob said.
The 24-week BIPP program rehabilitates batterers. It teaches them non-violent strategies, how to recognize triggers, and learning empathy for their victims.
According to BIPP director David Almager, changing a batterer’s beliefs is the key to success.
“A belief system that says ‘it’s okay for me to do these behaviors toward an intimate partner.’ That’s the biggest challenge, but that’s where the biggest benefit comes from,” he explained.
Bob said the therapy program made him see how his words and actions hurt his wife. He also believes the “life class” as he calls it, should be taught to every young man, whether there are family violence issues or not.
Bob just completed the BIPP program in May. He says he knows he has changed and that his wife and kids believe it too. He also says, if people really apply the program they too can change.
David Almager agrees. “Can these guys change? Sure, they can. It’s a learned behavior. If they can learn to be abusive, they can learn to replace that behavior with something positive. We’ve got to believe that.”
Some of the abusive behaviors that experts say should not exist in a healthy relationship include: isolating, humiliating or intimidating your partner, forcing your partner to have sex, threats, and name calling.
If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs in your relationship or know someone who is, experts say there is help available and urge that it is sought out before a family is destroyed.
Click here to find out more about The Family Place and the Battering Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP).