“I just wonder if you could pass on my sincere thanks for the amazing event. It was delivered so passionately & compassionately, and I learned sooo much and had such a good time. I witnessed people being so courageous, and observed them blossoming under the care of the facilitators. And most importantly it felt extremely safe. The exercises were interesting & enlightening & will stick in my memory & will be shared with others. The facilitators were truly inspiring, honest & supportive. A big thanks to everyone involved.”
“The switch in my head had been pushed. The switch that reads above it, ‘Violence, Warning, Do not touch!’ Too late though, my switch had been flicked and a chain of violent behaviour began. I took a rake and swung it at everything in my path. On this particular occasion my car got the brunt of my anger. My black beetle that, I had been working hard to pay off. I threw the rake as far as possible then without a thought I ran my forehead in to the house wall causing blood to flow and tissue to swell. My switch usually worked on a timer and after so long the raging anger within me would subside and the violent behaviour died down to a stop.
I sat on the floor and sobbed, “I can’t take it anymore, I just can’t take it anymore”. My words indicating that this wasn’t the first time I had displayed such violence. Countless times I’d lost it, breaking every plate, bowl, and cup in my home. Cutting my body until blood poured or I’d beat myself black and blue.
I can almost hear the question rolling around your heads. I can see it in your eyes, Why? Why would someone do that to themselves? Well, on this particular occasion it was because I couldn’t get my car out of the snow. Ok, so that was just the surface reason. I’ve since learnt that I was suffering with low self esteem and unresolved issues that had contributed to my violent outbursts. I’m far from proud of myself and I’m not bragging about what I have done. I’ve hurt myself and I’ve hurt others, especially those I’m closest to.
As I sat on the floor, head throbbing and blood trickling down my brow, I realised that I needed help. I couldn’t continue my life in this way and I didn’t want to. It was then I found a leaflet on the Alternatives to Violence Project and I decided to attend a level one workshop. It was a long weekend but I found it refreshing to discover that I wasn’t the only one to struggle with these intense emotions.
There were people from all walks of life that found it difficult to deal with conflict in their lives. I found it to be a laid back atmosphere where gradually people become open to share their experiences. We looked at self esteem and how best to act in a situation of conflict. AVP has helped me heaps in giving me the tools to deal with some of the difficulties in my life. Ok so I’m not totally reformed but I am a work in progress and AVP has set me on the right road to a more peaceful and controlled life.
Since my first workshop I have worked my way up and have trained as a facilitator. I can now have a positive impact on those who continue to struggle with violence within their lives. AVP has bought so much into my life and the biggest lesson I have learnt is that it’s possible to change.”
“Paul took part in our workshops while in Addiewell Prison. Paul is one of our new-trained facilitators and has shared his reasons for volunteering with AVP Scotland. As an ex-offender with a violent background he had struggled with conflict – both in prison and outside. Paul’s story is sadly typical of many people who want to change, he’d attended various courses and tried hard to stay away from trouble, but it was only after attending our workshops that he found the tools that really helped him.
After his release Paul was able to move away from his previous life-style and to take responsibility for communicating his needs appropriately. He recognised that how people interact with each other – the tone of voice they use or body language they display – was actually the ‘tip of the iceberg’, and so he was more able to step aside from conflict rather than engage with it. He’s become more observant of people’s behaviour and so become more tolerant of them. This change in Paul has not gone unnoticed! He’s had very positive feedback from his friends and he is making progress in resolving the conflict in his own family.
Paul has just become a trainee workshop facilitator and he’s on track to become a wonderful advocate to deliver our message to his (ex) peer group in prisons across Scotland. Paul’s story is an inspiration to all of us who are working hard to develop AVP Scotland; as he says; “… they should be teaching this stuff to kids in school… I’m totally shocked and saddened that I never learned this stuff before – but I’m so glad I know it now!”