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Family Place client speaks out - I am proof that abuse can stop

by Emily Roberts | Mar 23, 2013

Orenthal McRae: I am proof that abuse can stop

21 March 2013
The Dallas Morning News

“If I had known then what I know now ….”

How many times has that phrase run through our minds after we had a lot of time to painstakingly reflect on the past and experience a different way of thinking?

Through just that kind of personal reflection was I able to understand that continuing a pattern of abuse toward my wife would harm her and my entire family in ways that were completely out of line with my core beliefs and values. Being accountable for the person I had become and taking the steps to change has made me a better husband, a better father and a better man.

Domestic violence and abuse is far more prevalent than anyone can ever comprehend or imagine. Trying to justify that abuse is not as bad as all-out physical violence is not acceptable.

Many words are associated with abuse and violence — blackened eyes, scratches, scars, bruises and abrasions. Just because a man hasn’t resorted to physical violence doesn’t mean he’s in the clear.

Change is a difficult task to master. The stigma and shame associated with abusive behavior often cause men to shy away from seeking help.

Attending a Battering Intervention and Prevention Program, such as the one offered at the Family Place in Dallas, is a valuable option that needs to be introduced as early as possible — especially to young men — to prevent and/or stop abusive behaviors.

It’s a program that can also save a man from the painful experience of having to say, “If I had known ….”

One of the most difficult tasks is to look in the mirror at the man you’ve become. The second is to honestly accept what you see, be willing to change and take steps to make that change.

Abuse is a conditioned response. It is a learned behavior. And it is behavior that’s always taken at the expense of others. Our challenge as men is to step out the shadows of shame and embarrassment. Allow the light to shine on our issues and show ownership of the negative behavior.

There are movements all across the country to address these shameful behaviors, and these days men have the chance to find encouraging environments and unprecedented opportunities where changes in attitude can happen.

The stigma of abuse has hindered the willingness to come forward and seek help. No man wants to be an island or an outcast.

You’ve heard the statements: “Any man who hits a woman is not a man” or “If he puts his hands on you, he’s not a man.” The bottom line is that those statements are true. More important, we can break free of the shackles of those phrases. We can end the stigma and break the cycle by joining together and starting anew.

So in large numbers, let’s be the Clark Kent who loves and rescues our Lois Lane in ways that are just as important as Superman-like deeds — whether that’s the power of taking out the trash at home or reassuring and taking away our loved one’s fears.

Abuse is a behavior that we can change by simply going into the booth of reality and becoming who we are meant to be: REAL MEN.

Orenthal McRae completed the Dallas Battering Intervention and Prevention Program at the Family Place in 2012. He asked that his full name not be published. The Family Place provides comprehensive programs that stop domestic abuse. To learn more, go to

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