Three stories of positive things that have come out of my 9 week prevention classes.
The angry man
A student walked into the class on the first day and said, “Yo, I don’t need this class. Bitches be trippin.” I decided to start out speaking about his statement and how so much of it was misguided. I didn’t say wrong, because then I’d be judging his opinions, and I need to make sure that I change opinions not condemn them. I think this is a practice we could all get into. I explained why the “B” word was so offensive. I explained the fact that women were allowed their own opinion, just as men do. Throughout the class he wove a fabric of victim blaming, misogyny, and violence toward women. Every time he decided to get on his soapbox and rant, I would quickly squash each of his ideas and words and attempt to spin them into a more positive way of seeing them that wasn’t based on the problem with the person he was speaking of. Each time it got harder and harder. Finally, after one particularly violence filled tirade I stopped him, took him out of the class, and told him: Ask her! Ask her why she acts that way. Ask her why she does these things. Every woman you’re speaking of….ask them!
The rest of the class he sat there and refused to say anything. He took notes and he listened intently. I wasn’t sure what happened and I tried not to think of any negative thoughts like he decided to not participate in this class anymore. At the end of the last day he walked up to me, shook my hand, and gave me a hug. This seemed odd and out of character but I didn’t say anything. before he left he said, “By the way, I asked them. You know what they said? They said it was me. Every girl I asked told me how I treated them and how wrong it was. Then I asked my mom, and suddenly she told me about all the men who treated her like I’ve been treating women. She told me about abuse, about rape, and about why my dad is in jail. I had no idea I was becoming just like all of these horrible men. I was becoming like my dad. I didn’t know, and I’m not bout to be like him or any of those men who hurt my mama. Thanks. I smiled and said…that’s my job.
The Kinder Cowboy
A young man in cowboy boots, a shirt with the sleeves ripped off, and jeans with a scoal ring worn into the back pocket walked into class for the last time. His appearance hadn’t changed since the 1st class. When I first met him he told me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want to be in the class and there was nothing I could do to change his mind about women: “They were holes to be filled and violence was the only way any problem could be solved.” I cringed at this comment, but I knew this was the kind of gentleman I was here to reach. After I spoke about the need for every student to take the lessons they learned into the community, and said good bye the young man in the cowboy boots came up to me and said, “You’re right, you know. It’s our responsibility to save the world from men like I was 9 weeks ago. I’ve called and wrote to every girl I’ve ever known and apologized, even my mom who has been in jail since I was 3. We need to do something. Two weeks later, I found out that he organized a drive to donate money to NCADV and got a job when he graduated high school working with a group to promote positive behaviors and nonviolence.
The healing boy
A boy walked up to me at the end of class with tears in his eyes. All the other students had left, shook my hand, and thanked me for the 9 weeks of fun. The story I relate is the story he told me: Four weeks into this class I got into really big trouble and my mom searched my backpack. Stuffed at the bottom she found the paperwork you had been giving us. She asked me where i got it and what class was giving it to me. I explained the whole DELTA class and everything we talked about. My mom was amazed and we talked about ti for hours. Then my dad came home and my mom immediately went to speak with him. He walked into my room, took off his belt, but I wasn’t ready for what came next. He asked if I wanted to have his belt. When I asked why he said, that a real man is a man who can wear a belt, be a real man, and not resort to hurting women or anybody else. We talked about the class every night and a few weeks ago (week 6 of the DELTA class) we had a big family dinner where all of the family met at our house. In the middle of dinner my dad asked me to tell everyone about the class. In the middle of my story, my uncle, my grandfather, and two of my cousins jumped up….I had never noticed before but their wives flinched when they did that. Everyone was yelling and screaming and all the kids were quickly ushered out. Those men had been beating my cousins and Aunts and Grandmother for years and my dad and mom decided now was the time to confront them. They are now in jail and there’s a lot of healing in my house now….because of you Chad. Thank you.”
These are just a few stories that I’ve heard. There are thousands cropping up all over the world. Send me your success stories and I’d be happy to post them on Opt4. We are changing the way people see abuse, and we are changing the men’s views of how they see women.
Join in the celebration and help stop the violence!