Travis H.'s review of Court Ordered Classes Court Ordered Classes

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Review Posted 5/13/2021
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I want to be a counselor for the Zoom meetings when I'm done
Face it, showing your face to a group of strangers that know you’re there for something negative you did, that the courts deemed “criminal”, is tough. It’s embarrassing. You’re more vulnerable amongst a group of strangers than you’ve ever cared to be. For some, it’s even scary. So, how do you get started while getting the most out of the class. I had a couple of thoughts that I hope will help. First of all, showing your face in a class is not trial by fire. Everyone, with exception to the person running the class, is there for a similar reason. I was personally told to complete a 52-week Anger Management/Domestic Violence class, and let me tell you that it sucked showing my face to people that may assume I was/am the quintessential Lifetime movie wife beater. Whatever the reason, we’re not in class to be judged. Everyone is there for making a mistake, and the fastest way to get past the anxiety of worrying about everyone else judging you, is to START. Tell your story. I listen to people in class tap dance around why they’re there. They’re asked what action brought them to the class, and they tell a story that eventually leads to them dumbing down the charge that led them to taking an Anger Management or Domestic Violence class. Other people are completely opposite and instantly own what they did. “I got into an argument with my spouse, grabbed her by the hair and dragged her through the house”, or, “My husband was texting a girl he knows I don’t like, so I threw a coffee cup at him and it broke over his giant head”. The best way to stop people from guessing what you did, is to tell your story. The classes can often have several people in them, and everyone deserves the opportunity to tell their story. Some people really want to speak up, believe it or not. My next suggestion would be to be concise when it’s your turn. If you slapped your wife/husband, a long flowery story leading up to it doesn’t change the ending. “I’m here because we got into an argument and I slapped him/her.” Some people are going to have to admit they’re in a Domestic Violence program for throwing a cell phone, or even just grabbing it out of someone’s hand. Domestic Violence covers a wide variety of offenses, some more physically violent than others, and some could be mental, verbal, or emotional abuse of someone. Whatever it is, own it. It’s not for everyone, but I choose to go to church with my aunt every Sunday. I have done it for years. The worst thing about church, in my opinion, was the singing. It seemed like it lasted forever. One day, I finally just started reading the words and saying them under my breath. Then another song came on and I got into It a little more. What I realized was that participating made it more pleasurable and it made the time fly by. I’m not the loudest and most entertaining singer there, but I do it enough for me to find pleasure in where I am. It no longer feels like I’m simply waiting for it to end. Your classes may be 45 minutes to an hour, it just depends on a variety of factors. You’ll notice that some people, like me, like to talk about what’s going on and what brought us there. For some, like myself, it’s therapeutic. You don’t have to be like me and talk without taking a breath for 10 minutes at a time. Nobody expects you to be the loudest in the room, but you’ll find that participating in the class will make it go by faster, and you won’t find yourself simply waiting for it to end. Once you finally talk and tell your story, telling people how your week or your day is going, you’ll also find yourself actively listening. Make sure you’re not in a room or space where you’re going to be distracted. People are going to hand you gems by way of telling where their lives went sideways, and if you miss them, you’re not going to get the maximum benefit of the class. The other nice thing about listening to other people is we start to realize that we’re not alone. YOU’RE NOT ALONE IN THIS. Everyone there, sometimes even the people running the classes, screwed something up at some point and were made to take a class. Someone will be regaling the group about where their life hit a speed bump, and if you’re listening, you’ll find yourself silently saying to yourself, “Oh s***! Me too!” If you not only share your story, but listen to others that are exposing their worst moments, you stop feeling like such an alien in class. Eventually, class stops feeling like you’re waiting for your turn to talk, or feeling like you have to listen to those that tend to speak up more than others (ie, me), and it becomes something that’s more tolerable. If you give it a chance, you’ll find yourself looking forward to purging whatever your week has been like (if it’s bad), or find yourself excited to tell your group how great your week was. You’re in a safe place to tell people your week was trash, or happy to share news that’s really positive. And, by participating in class as you do more of them, you’re helping show other newbies how to do it. By participating, you’re inadvertently helping a total stranger that’s just as scared and nervous as you were in your first couple of classes. You’re now doing something selfless, and maybe by doing things that are selfless, just maybe we’re paying back some of that karmic debt that we’ve run up a tab on. Look at a full class of people in a Domestic Violence program. What does everyone look like? Is it full of scary looking monsters? I’ve been in a few so let me preface what you’re going to see. You’re going to see someone that could be your neighbor. You’re going to see someone that looks like they guy/gal at the gym. You’re going to see and hear from men or women that serve/served in the military. You’ll see soccer moms and stay-at-home dads, and you’ll see executives and the person that helps you at the grocery store. There’s no stereotype for people that catch a case for losing their temper. The only common denominator I’ve been able to find is that we’re all human. In all honesty, the things you’re going to learn in the lessons we do online, and from the group sessions, are things we should have been taught long before we were forced to. You may read something that seems like common sense. “You’re responsible for your own actions and reactions.” Seems like something we all know, right? So, why are you blaming someone else for making you so mad that they forced you to hit them? That’s making your indiscretion THEIR fault, and it’s not. Don’t take the information for granted. Maybe everything doesn’t pertain to your situation. That’s OK, it’s still knowledge. If it’s not relevant now, it may be in the future. Imagine having the knowledge, in advance, on how to handle a potentially traumatizing situation the right way. You’ll be setting the right example for your family and your community. At the very least, you won’t be back in a class, or potentially expedited to jail instead.
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