Say It, Don’t Spray It

Years ago, I co-led a treatment group for men that had committed sex offenses. Reflecting on the two years we spent together, I believe the more brutal moments led to the most significant amount of my self-growth.

At the end of every hour and a half long session, the men and I would stand and place our arms over each other’s shoulders as my colleague would say a few words before sending us off.

One man, let’s call him Ron, placed his hand on my waist but, as I observed, on the shoulder of the man standing next to him. Seeing no one else’s hands on men’s waists, I brought this to the group’s attention in the next meeting. Let’s just say the conversation was a bit heated, with a lot of defensiveness and finger-pointing.

On another occasion, I saw a man from the group in a coffee shop sitting flirtatiously close to a woman I knew was not his wife. Concerned, I brought my observation to the group’s attention in our following meeting. One man – not the guilty one – attacked me verbally. He told me I should have talked to the man in private instead of humiliating him in front of the group.

I defended my actions, and then to my surprise, the man that had committed the deed spoke up on my behalf. He thanked me for saying something, took responsibility, and admitted that sort of behavior was what had led to his conviction in the first place.

Looking back, I know I didn’t do the confrontations perfectly and in turn, learned a thing or two about how to be more tactful. But the fruitful conversations and the resulting intimacy and bonds I created in the group are something for which I am forever grateful.

Thanks for stopping by. Love, Jaclynn

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