Voice Male - Spring 2005
Will I Ever Be Forgiven?
Dealing with the Consequences of a
Domestic Violence Conviction
By Jake Asbin
As I write this, I'm sitting in jail. I put myself here out of sheer stupidity: I assaulted my wife of 12 years. I threw away a comfortable, and what I thought was happy, lifestyle. I lost the girl of my dreams--the only woman I ever felt so in tune with. We could sit in a room together, not speaking, and yet there was no uncomfortable silence. Yet now I have to imagine the fear she must have felt, seeing my rage. I still love her very much and must accept that I will most likely never see or talk to her again.
Yes, my guilt is real. I have nightmares of what happened five months ago. I am losing my hair from worry and stress. When I don't have nightmares, I still toss and turn or barely sleep. I never used to think I was a "bad guy." I never hurt any other woman in my 42 years of life. I was a homebody husband. I thought I did everything I could for my wife. But I forgot one thing: I never protected her from me.
The shame and embarrassment I feel are real, and it hurts me more than words can explain. The arduous task of forgiveness eludes me. I don't feel comfortable in my own skin. How could I resort to being violent instead of knowing how to communicate my anger? How did I allow my anger to consume me? Why did I hurt the one person who mattered so much to me?
Since I've been incarcerated, I've become accustomed to the finer points of jail: showering, shitting, and sleeping with no privacy; enduring other inmates who neglect basic hygiene; eating tasteless and non-nutritional food. Then there's noise, violence, hate, racism, extortion, hopelessness, and finally, my own private guilt, stress, and shame.
At the same time, I have sought out the beginning of some form of help. I guess I'm seeking redemption. I hope so--I do have quite a lot to atone for. And by attending two groups--Men Overcoming Violence (MOVE) and anger management--I see where I need to improve my lifestyle and my thought process.
I have learned and appreciated my weekly MOVE group the most. I have always felt my warning signs--my red flags telling me that my anger is rising and a violent outburst is imminent--but I was never able to be more aware of them. And don't get me wrong--I'm not an angry fellow by nature. But I felt these red flags that fateful day against my wife, and was powerless to stop my aggression. Now I have had my red flags appear on a few occasions here in jail, and I was able to sense that a minor problem or disagreement was about to mushroom into something bigger. The resulting warning signs allowed me the time, however short, to deflate my rising anger and instead to try to communicate my differences with my fellow inmate.
I guess every man dreams of a second chance. I hope I will get that chance someday, when I finally forgive myself. Until that happens, however, I must always take full responsibility for what I did and work as hard as I can to do something about it so it will never happen again. The only positive my life has right now is what I continue to learn from MOVE. I plan to continue my affiliation with and participation in MOVE so that I can keep moving forward with my process. I have seen my shortcomings and must strive for my improvement, both now and in the future.
Jake Asbin is serving a sentence of 12 months for assault and battery in the Hampshire County (Mass.) Jail and House of Correction, where he attends the MRC's MOVE group for prisoners led by Steve Trudel. This article was originally written in August 2004.