Paul, a pseudonym, could be described as a man who would not hurt a fly, but he "lost it for a few seconds", during a heated quarrel with his wife and ended up striking her.
This act of violence cost him dearly – it ended three years of marriage and landed him before the Magistrates’ Court, where he was sent to Partnership for Peace – a 16-week violence intervention programme.
However, Paul has been able to see the truism in the adage "every cloud has a silver lining" and is benefitting greatly from the information he has been receiving from the programme.
He said: "The training has helped me, not only to control myself, but it has taught me that violence is not the solution to any problem at all. We have a choice – we can walk away, take time out, or do so many different things, except resort to violence, because that does not help at all. I like the idea of time out because it allows a person to think and resolve the problem without using violence…
"That one act of violence cost me my relationship with my wife, but I have gained, in that a positive thing came out of a negative. The programme has taught me a lot; that I can walk away from various things or resolve situations before they escalate to violence."
Acknowledging that the programme makes him feel good about himself, he continued: "I look forward to attending the sessions every week and I feel as if we are a family in the room. We support each other and if someone [in the group] has a problem we give each other advice and help him through the process."
Paul is now separated from his wife and is sharing his knowledge with workmates and friends, in an effort to ensure that they don’t make a similar mistake. "It is a very educational programme and I think it should be introduced at the school level so children would learn that violence is not the answer," he suggested.
The 38-year-old got into a fight with his wife after she told him she was involved in a relationship with another man and she no longer loved him. "The pain and disrespect made me just lose it… I was never violent before and I did not grow up seeing violence in my household," he pointed out.
He added that his children heard some of the unpleasant things that were spoken during the quarrel and he is hopeful that it would not affect them emotionally.??
Partnership for Peace is an initiative of UN Women and is currently being implemented and managed by the former Division of Family, which is now part of the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development. It targets men who are abusive to their partners and uses a psycho-educational approach to convey to participants that violence is unacceptable, and may be broken through the sharing of concepts and techniques that help to replace such behaviour with preferences for respect, open communication and healthy relationships.
Participants are referred by the Magistrates’ Court. However, referrals from state and non-state agencies will also be allowed access to the training.?? The men are exposed to a number of topics, including Anger Management, Power and Control in Relationships, Managing Feelings, Domestic Violence and the Law, Effective Communication, and Manhood and Womanhood.????
Paul is of the opinion that women who are in violent relationships should receive some form of counselling, so that they could ascertain their "downfall" and why they are being violated.
Conversely, he wants men who are in violent relationships to seek counselling and walk away from those destructive unions. "Those relationships are not good for you, and if children are involved they will be hurt more than the adults," he remarked.
Some members of society can be very judgemental and they are not afraid to remind persons of their past. And, Paul has urged the public not to judge him and others because they made one mistake. "A man should not be branded for the rest of his life because people just tend to lose it sometimes. We should always remember that people change, and in God, everything is possible," he underscored.
With the love and support of his family, Paul has been able to get over this hurdle and is hopeful that he would eventually be involved in another union because marriage is God-ordained.
So, as Paul and his classmates continue to implement the suggestions from the Partnership for Peace programme in their life, let us all rally around them and give the necessary support, having the confidence that violence in relationships can be reduced and later eradicated.