Help men can mend their ways

WHEN Dan got into a physical confrontation with police he knew it was time to get help. For years, the Grafton man had been unable to control his anger and everything around him, including the relationship with his daughter, was crumbling. "Life had just got to me and I had given up on everything," Dan said. "I had no-one to turn to; no family support." Dan desperately wanted help to change his behaviour and he found it through the Men Exploring Non-violent Directions (MEND) program. "They targeted things like anger and stress and gave you the tools to manage it," he said. "If this had been available 20 years ago, life would have been a lot better." Dan said the MEND program involved him attending a number of group sessions with other men who also wanted to learn to change their behaviour. "Doing it in front of a group made it very confronting," he said. "But confronting it is the best thing because it makes you face your problems." Dan said the program helped him turn his life around. "I'm getting along with my daughter a lot better now and I'm able to get more access to her," he said. "And it's got my head thinking straight." Paul Clarke, a MEND counsellor, said the goal of MEND was to create respectful, more loving relationships. "Part of this (program) is to create more awareness in men of their style of behaviour," he said. Mr Clarke said the outcome of aggressive or abusive behaviour was always the same loss or potential loss of relationships, loss of access to children and involvement with the courts. "The good news is that behaviour can be changed," he said. "It's not about blame, though; it's really about men's physical and emotional well-being." Mr Clarke said there was a 'huge' need for MEND in the Clarence Valley, which was why the program would be offered here from the end of July. More information about MEND programs can be obtained by phoning 6622.6116.

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