When you hurt, you hurt people, especially the people you love…
By Ala'imalo Lua Maynard
As a young Samoan boy I was always beaten and verbally abused and that's where I think it started. Being abused and seeing it around me, I grew up thinking that was how you were supposed to do things.
My Dad didn't live with us, it was my Mom who beat me. I was the oldest. She would beat me and I would bully and beat up my siblings.
I had this mentor, my uncle, I looked up to. He had lots of girlfriends, he beat up his partner too. He would say to me ‘this is how you make sure they don't get the best of you'.
These experiences shaped my view of how to maintain a relationship with a woman.
When I grew up I thought I'm never going to do that - what was done to me, so
I became very good at psychological and verbal abuse. I would check up on my partners, say cruel and hurtful things, tell them who to speak with, smash things, kick doors in, shout.
Now I can name a lot of stuff I was doing as power and control, but back then I thought as long as I don't put my hands on them I was OK.
I didn't know any other way. I didn't even know what violence was. My belief was if I didn't draw blood it was OK.
Because of my controlling behaviour and jealousy, at lot of women were afraid of me.
There was one particular lady that said if I ever laid my hands on her it would be over. One day I was in a bad mood and I grabbed her which really scared her and she stuck to her word. That's one relationship I really regret losing. I was sure she wouldn't leave me but she did.
I still think about her and how I really messed that relationship up. Looking back I see that violence and abuse is a poor way to communicate. I just didn't have the communication skills to share what I was thinking, to express what was going on with me and to work things out with her. At that time I kept a lot of stuff in. I didn't talk to anyone, it built up then exploded.
I guess I am sad in terms of opportunities lost. I got into Harvard but I beat up someone and got expelled because I couldn't manage my violence.
Later on in New Zealand I was working as a Probation officer and sending men to anger management programmes. I thought what do they do on these programmes?
Then I got asked if I wanted to apply for a job as a facilitator of men's programmes at Friendship House in Manukau, they were looking for a Pacific facilitator.
That's when I really started to understand what violence is. I recognised more about how I do those things, I hold the same beliefs as the men coming to the programme.
Violence over shadows you and you become low in confidence and self esteem, you feel like a bad person, worthless. You think:
I deserve crap
I deserve the bad things that are happening to me.
It takes a long time to turn that around.
I cared for my sick Mom until she died. It was healing for me and I had the opportunity to tell her about how her violence had affected me, but I came to understand that it was the only way she knew. If she'd known a better way she would've done it. I stopped carrying that around.
I don't like to say I'm a violence free man because I know exactly what that means. There's still times I raise my voice and say mean things. I'm a work in progress and am on a journey towards being a violence free man. I'm much better now.
I've been working with men for seven years now and I have an eight year old daughter. I want to role model what a non violent man is supposed to be, the kind of man she will look for.
I can understand why I was hurting other people. I understand and I realise that I was hurting. When you hurt, you hurt people, especially the people you love.
This story also appears on the Whirlwind website where men share their stories to help other men. http://www.whirlwindstories.com/