Finding the right support at the right time

Jeremy shares his story in anger management class, facing the harsh truth of his behaviour's impact on his family. He explains how he took the first steps towards change and responsibility for his actions.

Soft piano music plays continuously in the background for the duration of the film. On a black screen is the text ‘Warning. This video contains coarse language and discussions of violence. Viewer discretion is advised.’

Jeremy sits in the lounge of his home, being interviewed by someone off camera. He has short, grey hair, and is wearing a black Adidas t shirt. There are small paintings on the wall, behind him is a black leather couch and a wood burner.

Jeremy: “Kia Ora, my name is Jeremy. I'm 57 years old, father of three, grandfather of four, great grandfather of one, that's me.”  

Cut to the beach, Jeremy is walking up an empty white sand the beach away from the camera. White text appear on the screen ‘Thinking About Change’. A close up of his dark brown leather jacket focuses on a white metal ‘white ribbon’ pin (a symbol for standing against violence).

Cut back to Jeremy in the lounge.

Jeremy: “I got introduced to a group of people, but particularly to start off with, to a couple that ran the Horowhenua violence and prevention program, Ngaire and Bob Thomas.

One night … five or six weeks into it, she asked me to role play with her. And this role play was to act as her aggressive partner. [Smirks] I said ‘oh yeah I can act that.’

I ended up, I mean like to me I'm acting, but I just dropped into this role. I'm crossing the room, I'm yelling at her at the top of my voice. She wouldn't look at me, so  grabbed her by the chin - and don't forget this is a 60-year-old pākehā lady -  pulled her face up to make eye contact with me, and I'm going ‘what are you crying for?’ She was pretending to cry because she'd blown the car up, this was the scenario. It ended up she was getting a bit frightened of me. It becomes so ingrained in you. I was just getting so frustrated because she wouldn't talk to me that I whacked the seat she was sitting on, and she went ‘stop’ and then my mate jumps up and he's like ‘calm bro, calm down’. And I'm like ‘bro I'm acting’ and he goes ‘you need to calm down man" and something clicked in my head. [long pause]

And what it was, was my kids. [he swallows hard] When they were little, particularly my daughter, when I used to be yelling and screaming at them, and standing over the top of them, and everything like that. And sometimes they would go [Jeremy raises his hands in front of his face in demonstration] ‘stop Dad you're scaring me’ and I'd be like ‘don't be so [ __ ] stupid, I never [ __ ] I love you I'll [ __ ] never hurt you.’

And I'd started to trust this woman a little bit. I just looked at her. I thought to myself ‘this woman's got no reason to lie to me.’

‘Am I scary Ngaire?’

She goes ‘Jeremy when you get like that, I can only imagine what it's like for those around you in your house.’

And then I did something that I hadn't done since I was a kid. And when you've been an angry fella for a long time it becomes quite scary. And I just burst into tears [Jeremy gestures with his hands indicating tears falling]  and I couldn't stop crying, and I'm just sitting like ‘what the [ __ ] is the matter with me?’ trying to wipe it all away. Then she made it worse because she came and put her arm around me. [Jeremy holds out his arm, demonstrating].

[Pause, swallow]. You know at that stage in my life and still to this day - I don't know whether it's something … mentally or anything like that - but I don't recall ever being hugged by my mum. All I remember [swallows]  is the hidings. I don't remember any birthdays or stuff like that. But this woman, she came and put her arm around me, and then she sat me down. The rest of the boys went back into the course with her husband. And then she just sat on the porch with me, and she asked me a question that no one had ever asked me in my life. None of my teachers, none of the police that I'd interacted with over the years, none of the people around me that knew. And she just said to me ‘what makes you tick Jeremy? Why are you so angry? Tell me your story.’

And so I sat on the porch and I just told her about my childhood. The first person that I'd opened up to about it, you know like fully, about what used to happen and stuff like that. She didn't interrupt me or anything, she just sat and listened to me. And at the end of it she goes ‘Oh well, now we've got something to work with aye.’

I went ‘I suppose’ and I went home. … I'd been sitting in the background, taking stuff in, listening to stuff, I went back and it just … that night opened me up to the type of man that I didn't realise I was.

When you're trapped in this world, you don't ever take an inward look at yourself. I would have protected my partner, and my partners  over the years, and my kids, with my life. As most partners and fathers would. Never ever did I take an inward look and think that maybe my kids and my partners needed some protection from me and my behaviour.

If you liken it to a tradesman, a tradesman likes to have all the tools that he needs for a job to get through something. It's the same with life. If you don't have all the skills and tools, at some stage you need to get to a place where you go and look for that, or someone leads you to a place where you can start finding the tools and the skills that you need to operate differently to you  have for the rest of your life. I had a tool kit with only half the tools and skills that I needed in it. And the top skill in that bag, once I got old enough and big enough, was violence.

What you have got to understand too is that you don't just suddenly become magically violence free. It’s not going to be plain sailing from that day. When you decide to make changes you're still going to make some backward steps along your journey. I think the biggest thing that I found was … even when I was making the backwards steps … and there'd be the odd time that I just still lost the plot, I started to take responsibility for my behaviour and any apology was a genuine apology.

Cut to Jeremy and the other man with a nearly shaved head wearing a red checkered hoody and jeans, walking across sand dunes towards the beach. They smile and chat inaudibly.

Having and keeping that support around you would be really important to help you maintain that new change, until you can take all your new skills and tools and start using them as number one.”

Cut to a black screen. White words appear saying ‘In your hands. Change starts here. For you and your whānau. One step at a time is all it takes for progress.’

More to Watch

Taking Steps for Change Playlist

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Jeremy's story

Jeremy's Story

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Jeremy's story
Jeremy - Thinking About Change
Jeremy - Staying On Track

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