The term domestic violence strikes a different chord in all of us; this much was evident during a recent Father Engagement Unit Dads Parenting Group. The unit took advantage of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month to tackle this tough subject matter with the men in the group, many of whom have direct experience with the issue.
The conversation, facilitated by Kevin Richard, a substance abuse counselor and father, provided a safe and well-informed space for the fathers to discuss domestic violence and intimate partner abuse. Richard defined domestic violence, and then he broke down the types of abuse and the long-term effects of abuse on children who witness it in their homes. The dads also talked about the cycle of domestic violence and how to break it.
It was an intense discussion. Some in the group took this time to see themselves in the information. Some told vivid personal stories while others sat quietly and reflected.
“The Father Engagement Unit is committed to helping fathers understand that we all have a back story,” said Bennie Herron, a father engagement specialist.
Richard summed it up more directly: “We are all playing the game with some pain.” The key, he told the class, is knowing where you are in the cycle of that pain and learning how you will as a father, son, and man commit to looking in the mirror and addressing that pain honestly and openly.
“Our class acts as a call to action for men and fathers to be the cycle breakers in the lives of their children so they can grow and flourish to live and not just survive,” Herron said.
The current Dads Parenting Group class wraps up Dec. 13. The next 12-week session starts Feb. 5, 2019, at the Gum Springs Community Center in Alexandria. Classes are free, but registration is required.