Taking Responsibility

Upon completion of the 52-week Batterer’s Intervention Program, participants write a letter of responsibility. This letter includes five areas: the harm they caused their partner, the intent of their actions, what they think the victim may have thought or felt, how their actions affected their relationship with the victim, and what they would have done differently. The purpose of the letter is to acknowledge and understand the harm they have caused.

When Rollen first attended Family Services’ Batterer’s Intervention Program, he was not ready to change. He didn’t want to be there and felt angry. Rollen realized he needed to want to change for himself. Traditionally, the 52-week Batterer’s Intervention classes are taught in a group setting. Rollen met individually with a therapist because once he began the classes, he learned he needed to address his past trauma. At an early age, he began to use drugs and alcohol to cope with the things he had experienced. Rollen promised to never physically hit his children or wife because he grew up in a very abusive home. He had no idea how verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse could be just as damaging. In his responsibility letter to his wife, Rollen apologized for his past actions and acknowledged the changes he has made to better himself. The following are excerpts from Rollen’s accountability letter:

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"I understand now that you felt isolated, hurt, angry, scared, and helpless. I never wanted you to fear me or feel like you were any less of a person than me. I talked down to you and it affected your self-worth. I should have been more understanding about your feelings and less consumed with mine. I never wanted you to feel this way. I wish I knew then what I know now.

Today, I am taking accountability for my past behaviors. I don’t ever want to forget what I have learned. I have been trying with everything I have to get my life on the right track. I will continue to make changes so our children can have a better life. I know there are many things I don’t know about how you feel or have felt because of lack of communication. I have learned better ways to communicate.  I take accountability for my anger, frustration, and selfishness. I realize how selfish and possessive I was of you.

I’ve learned many tools to use such as going for a walk or doing something I enjoy, setting boundaries, and waiting before I say anything. I can also make sure to give time for the other person to talk, listen, and understand what they said. I shouldn’t assume. I think about what I am going to say before I say it.

These programs have made such a difference in my life. I am a better person, father, and partner. I have learned how to identify anger when it’s in its first stages and deal with it before it gets out of hand. I learned that I don’t have to have the last word. It’s okay to come back at a better time, when I feel calmer. I can take a timeout. I can talk to my wife and children in a more civil matter. I have greater respect for myself and those around me."

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Today, Rollen is working on rebuilding his life. He acknowledges that it is a process. He is sober and continues to practice what he learned in the 52-week program daily. He has a better understanding of how he used power and control his relationship. He’s able to identify the warning signs of his anger. When it begins to build up, he stops and thinks about how he should react. “If you follow the program, it can be life changing,” says Rollen. In addition to the 52-week Batterer’s Intervention program, he also completed Parenting, Child Abuse Intervention, and Anger Management classes.

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