Frank’s Story

It’s hard to describe the breaking point that brought me to DAP.

It was an abusive event–it was awful, and terrifying, and cruel, and violent just like all the other times I had abused my wife over the preceding 13 years. There was nothing that made THIS particular act of abuse measurably worse in any way but at the same time I had a deep feeling that this time it had gone too far. My now ex-wife and I had been in marriage counseling for years at that point and I really felt that things had gotten better. But there it was again, just as violent as ever.  I made all the same promises I always made but this time I realized this was MY problem not a marital problem.

I don’t think that if you looked at my life before DAP, abuse would have come to mind.  My life was great! Big house, fancy cars, great job for me and wife, beautiful kids, beautiful clothes . . . it was everything you’d want to see or have. But, behind closed doors, when there was a disagreement or I felt weak or exposed or foolish…things would ramp up. I would get big.  Everything would.  I would get louder to let everyone know I was angry.  My movements, arms, legs, my body, EVERYTHING I did would become exaggerated. I would fill the space with myself and my “anger.”   There was nowhere that you could go to hide or retreat, and not be aware of my presence and that gave me control–I thought.

Coming to DAP was terrifying.  It was humiliating, it was desperate, it was painful, it was humbling and it made me look at what I was doing. I was the only “voluntary” group member. I don’t say this as an accolade; I say this because what I did and what I was was CRIMINAL. I remember being the only person in a suit. I had come from work., others had been in prison earlier that week.  I sat and listened to announcements about parole officers and case managers, and what would happen with the court and police if we didn’t complete the program — this was a world which I had NO experience with and at the very same time I was EXACTLY the same as every man in that room, a reality that my suit and my job and society had let me hide from my whole life.

My DAP experience was awful.  I had wonderful counselors and the material that we covered was insightful and it opened my eyes.  So why is that awful you ask?  When your eyes are open and you are looking at real horrors that sound and look exactly like the things you have done and said…it is crushing.

When I think of the REAL outcomes of my experience with DAP, I think construction sites on a grand scale — because that is what DAP gave me the chance to do – clear away the rubble of the disaster I brought upon myself and family and build something better from the bits that could be reused.

I’m a better father, friend, and professional than I was before DAP.  It is still challenging and I am painfully imperfect and I fall down more often than I’d like — but it’s easier to get up.

DAP puts the pressure on me…the great pressure of honesty and introspection. Though I completed the DAP program in 2012 I haven’t really LEFT DAP. It is part of my daily experience.  And, while I don’t go to DAP meetings anymore I think about the lessons I learned…everyday.