This is how it begins: a friend who’s an assistant district attorney calls and offers me a job in a program for abusive men.

“We’re looking for a feminist therapist who’s worked in shelters and won’t be taken in by male bullshit,” she says. “I thought you’d be perfect for the job.” Her voice is blithe, as though she’s asking if I want to meet her for dinner.

“Me?” I say.

“We want a woman who’s not afraid to be confrontational, but who can also project enough warmth to be likable.” She laughs wryly. “It won’t pay much, but it’ll be something extra to help put your kids through college.” She waits.

Outside the open door of my office in the adolescent unit of the local hospital, children mill noisily around the nurse’s desk. It’s snack time. She warns them to speak softly, and their voices drop, except for the annoying whine of one boy who’s complaining about the loss of his radio privileges. The nurse tells him to quiet down, irritation rasping at the edge of her voice like a file. I cradle the phone on my shoulder, turn toward the window, and rest my arms on my desk. It’s spring, and the sky is brilliant. The busy parking lot has only a few shade trees, and the cars shimmer like a mirage in the sunlight.

“I’m not sure,” I finally tell my friend. “I’ve done volunteer work with battered women and kids in shelters. I’ve also never had a client who wasn’t affected by domestic violence. I don’t know if I can work with the men. Let me think about it.”

Her earlier brightness fades, and I realize that I’m not her first choice; she’s been turned down by other women and is running out of options.

“Just go talk to the guy who does it and see what you think,” she urges. Hearing the weariness in her voice, I agree to see him before work the next morning.

Tim’s office is on a side street of narrow brick buildings with tall stoops. The light on the third-floor landing is out, making it hard to read the tiny nameplate on the door.

“Come in!” he yells at my knock.

He’s sitting in a swivel chair, barefoot, a cup of coffee in hand. He points to a coffeepot on a table. I help myself and settle into an ancient recliner as he opens the top drawer of his desk and pulls out a box of powdered doughnuts. His wastepaper basket overflows with candy wrappers, styrofoam cups, crumpled tinfoil, and empty junk-food boxes. On one wall is a giant “Power and Control” wheel — the Ten Commandments of the batterer-education program.

“So,” Tim says, “are you going to do the program?”

I laugh uneasily. “I don’t know a damn thing about it.”

“Piece of cake.” He’s low-key, heavyset, and affable, and gestures emphatically as he speaks. I decide he might be a good partner with whom to run a group.

Before I leave, he gives me a workbook.

“I’ve worked with battered women a long time,” I say doubtfully. “I don’t know if I can work with the perps.”

“Piece of cake,” he says again. I can tell by his tone that he’s minimizing the difficulties, but I agree to take the job anyway. I want to believe the program will work.


The class is held on the second floor of the police station. On the first evening, I stand across the street and watch the men gather at the top of the front steps, smoking and laughing. I can tell the newcomers by their stiffness and by the abrupt, nervous way they inhale their cigarettes. The station is a hive of frenzied activity. Lights go on and off in the windows, like blinking eyes, and police cars enter and leave the garage beneath the building. I take a deep breath and cross the street.

At the entrance, I step sideways between two departing patrolmen, who look at me curiously. A pleasant-looking woman with a serious face sits behind the high front desk. I tell her why I’m there, and she smiles and holds out her hand. “Good luck,” she says, and buzzes me in.

Tim is leaning backward in a chair, balancing on the rear legs while he reads the newspaper. When he sees me, he drops his paper and waves his arm at the low-ceilinged room. “This is it.”

The walls are lined with blackboards. The windows face the street, and the sound of traffic seeps through the cracks around the sills. The fluorescent lights in the hallway flicker. Voices, scuffling feet, police radios, door buzzers, ringing phones, and edgy laughter bleed underneath the door. The stale stink of cigarettes, sweat, burnt coffee, pizza, burgers, popcorn, and after-shave fills the air — and, I will find, clings to my hair and permeates my clothes. For all the years I will work there, the room will be either too hot or too cold.

Each group consists of fifteen to twenty men serving their court-ordered six months. Some wear expensive suits and ties, as if to armor themselves against the charge of battering. Others wear jeans and muscle shirts that show their tattoos. The soldiers from the nearby military base sit at attention, and their boots gleam.

Tim and I face each other across the circle, so we can observe everyone. We start with roll call; each man says his name and why he’s here. Some men look soulfully at us in a silent plea for understanding. Others watch their own shuffling feet. Sometimes a man refuses to speak and just stares defiantly, daring us to revoke his probation. We develop a policy: someone may be silent through two sessions, listening to those who do participate. We want to keep everyone in the program, hoping to teach them nonviolent behavior, something they won’t learn in jail.

After my first group, Tim and I go out for ice cream. It will become our weekly ritual. We talk about the men’s denial of culpability, especially the one who said his wife got a black eye and broken nose when “the door slammed into her.” They remind me of high-ranking officials caught in the act, repeating their mantra: “Mistakes were made.”

In the beginning, I sit quietly through the litany of strangling, punching, and hair pulling and think, This is the lions’ den. But by week two, it’s as familiar and predictable as a weekly television show. The excuses are equally repetitive: it’s always somebody else’s fault — the wife who won’t listen, or the kid who won’t pay attention. By the third week, I’ve developed my style. I speak calmly and confront the men directly, sometimes using humor to point out the absurdities in what they’ve said. Most of all, I stand my ground: nothing justifies physical violence.

Some men are furious that I’m here and regard me as a spy from the other side. “What the hell do women know about this shit?” one newcomer asks, looking around the circle. The men who’ve been here awhile laugh.

Half of each weekly session is devoted to charting one man’s abusive acts on the night of his arrest. We write them out on the blackboard, step by step. . . . Whatever we hear at chartings is only part of the story. Men minimize their actions and inflate hers in an effort to prove that she was responsible. We ferret out the truth and examine inconsistencies until a man’s story finally unravels like a hem with faulty stitching.

Two years pass. I stop using makeup. I pin my hair back and wear shapeless dresses or loose pants with long jackets. I walk the fine line between being a woman who demands respect and being a woman plain enough not to become a distraction.

“This group is aging you,” Tim jokes over ice cream.

“You’re getting pretty damn gray yourself,” I say.

“Nah, they’re making me bald.” He runs his hand through his thinning, disheveled hair.

Half of each weekly session is devoted to charting one man’s abusive acts on the night of his arrest. We write them out on the blackboard, step by step. Tim and I share an unspoken understanding that whatever we hear at chartings is only part of the story. Men minimize their actions and inflate hers in an effort to prove that she was responsible. We ferret out the truth and examine inconsistencies until a man’s story finally unravels like a hem with faulty stitching. I discover I have a talent for finding lies, the way a gardener finds weeds. I learn the nuances of facial expression, voice, and body language.

One night, we chart a man who beat his wife until he thought she was dead.

“What did you do next,” I ask, “after you decided she was dead?”

“I raped her.” His voice is pleasant. He has deep blue eyes and an expensive hair cut. He owns a few fishing boats and says he loves being out on the water.

“What did you do after that?” Tim asks in a sharp voice. I swallow hard and glance at him; he shrugs imperceptibly. Our job is to stay even-keeled.

“I wrapped her in a sheet and threw her in a dumpster.” The man takes a sip of his coffee.

Car horns beep outside, and the traffic light on the corner turns red, then green, then red again. It’s raining, and the colors spread in a blur over the wet window.

“Then what did you do?” I ask.

He tells us he was arrested after a wino heard his wife moaning and called the police. The room is motionless as he speaks. He’s the most honest man we’ve charted. He doesn’t hesitate to tell us anything; he doesn’t give a damn what we think of him. Everyone looks silently down at the floor. His story is a vacuum sucking the air out of the room. Something inside me trembles. Tim and I usually pace as we chart, but this time we sit in our chairs. As soon as the charting is over, we send everyone home — an hour early. The men leave without any of their usual banter or words of support for the man who has just been charted.

“He’s a baaad man,” Tim says. His shirt is ringed with perspiration.

“Sociopathic,” I answer. I’m drenched as well.

“We got through it.” He smiles weakly.

“Yeah,” I say as I stand and begin to fold chairs, “but there’s probably worse to come.”


I develop a friendship with a woman who runs an identical program in the next county. She’s upbeat and hopeful, touched by what she sees as breakthroughs.

“I’m maintaining a wait-and-see attitude,” I say, despite the optimism that I sometimes feel.

“You’ve got to believe in something,” she says.

“I didn’t say I don’t believe.”

While shopping, I pass a man from one of my groups. We don’t look at each other, but his face flushes. My head pounds, and the world spins. I’ve always known I might meet a group member on the street, but the encounter hits me viscerally. Breathless, I lean against the wall for a moment. Then I go into a coffee shop to sit down.

“Espresso,” I tell the boy behind the counter. As I watch him operate the machine, I wonder idly if he’s ever hit his girlfriend. His smile, as he hands me my espresso, is warm and open. I smile back stiffly, then find a table in the corner, away from everyone. Outside of group, the man looked the same as everybody else. This stunning juxtaposition of my personal and working lives has driven home the simple truth: your average batterer is the man next door.

My husband and I go to see Tequila Sunrise, with Mel Gibson and Michelle Pfeiffer. In a scene on a boat, Michelle tells Mel that she loves him, but he’s busy and doesn’t want to be interrupted. He hits her and sends her flying across the deck. On the way home, we agree that it was a bad film.

In bed that night, I think about the television show The Honeymooners and Ralph’s threat with raised fist, “To the moon, Alice,” which made everyone laugh. I think about a number of popular films and musicals and suddenly understand that the hero of Carousel is a batterer.

Women tell me things about their boyfriends or husbands. They whisper, and their eyes dart around to see if anybody else can hear. They always end by saying, “But he’s not like the men in your group. He’s different.” Nobody wants to be identified as a battered woman, because battered women are held responsible for their abuse. Once a woman has told me her secret, she guiltily avoids me and doesn’t make eye contact, hoping I’ll forget.

“Why doesn’t she just leave?” is the question I’m most often asked. I always respond with another: “Why does he believe he has the right to batter her?”

Men I know challenge me: “ ‘Power and Control’ wheel?” they say. “It sounds like you’re trying to control the men.” I don’t want men — especially those from my social circle — to challenge my work; it confirms my worst fears.

I tell people I’m off duty, but it doesn’t make any difference. When Daryl Hannah, the actress, appears in public with a black eye and says her singer boyfriend Jackson Browne hit her, people call to ask what I think about it. Then they tell me that “she must have done something terrible to make him do that.” A movie star suggests publicly that it’s OK to slap a woman sometimes, and everyone asks me if I think the interviewer misquoted him. Another star claims that her husband hit her. “How dare she say that?” a woman at a party says. “He’s such a gentleman.”

When my husband and I are introduced to people, I don’t reveal what I do. Sometimes there’s enough curious probing and prodding to make me confess. Then there’s silence, or perhaps somebody says something about low-income or ethnic families, and the rest nod. Often I see a woman’s face turn away, and I catch a glint of hostility in her husband’s eyes.


Eight years later, Tim and I are doing three groups a week, plus the time it takes to check homework and talk on the telephone with police, wives, and men in crisis. He’s developed a sideline as an expert witness, but I’m not interested in going to court, no matter how much it pays. I’ve left the hospital and started a private practice. My last case involved a child whose father stalked his mother across the country and stabbed her, but she didn’t die. The father served a couple of years with time off for good behavior. Now the courts were considering giving him custody of the child because the mother had two jobs and wasn’t home much, whereas he’d remarried and had a wife at home full time. I never learned the outcome.

Tim is sometimes irritable during group, and I mention it to him.

“Yeah, I guess the anger is catching,” he says, and scratches his head. He’s eating an ice-cream sundae, my treat — I lost the bet we make before each group on how many will show up at the last moment.

“Be careful you don’t catch it,” I say, trying to keep the conversation light. The subject is making me uncomfortable. I take a spoonful of ice cream that just sits in my mouth. It’s suddenly hard for me to swallow. I rely on Tim, and I know he relies on me. There are times, in group, when we seem to be in telepathic contact with each other.

“Yeah, yeah, you’re right,” he agrees. “I’ll watch it.”

I’m most comfortable with people who live in the same world as I do: Tim, women from the shelter, my assistant-DA friend, cops, and the facilitator from the next county, with whom I have coffee a few times a week. She continues to believe we’re making a difference. If a man she’s worked with goes back to his old ways, she’s hurt, as though he attacked her personally.

We talk about television, movies. Andy Garcia stars in a film where he slaps his wife at a party because he thinks she’s cheating on him. In the next scene, she comforts him. Music videos are especially bad: Axl Rose drives a woman off a cliff; Sting sings that he’s watching “every step you take.” Violence has burst the dikes and spread like a flood everywhere, and nobody seems to notice.

I joke easily with group members, particularly those who’ve been there awhile. I’ve grown comfortable in this world of men who assault their wives and children. I listen sympathetically when they talk about trouble at work, or cars that break down, or disagreements with their spouses — all the while carefully assuring me that they haven’t behaved abusively. Their wives report, “Sure, he cursed, maybe threatened . . . but, hell, he didn’t hit me. I’m not complaining.” Most group members relax with me, but others — even some “graduates” of the program — refuse to make eye contact and never address me without anger in their voices.

Other people’s refrigerators are covered with their kids’ report cards and school projects; mine has line graphs that chart monthly rates of domestic violence. Beneath those are graphs that chart the level of domestic violence in different countries; the U.S. is off the charts. When friends visit, they look silently at the refrigerator door, then turn away. My husband makes weak jokes about it.

Nothing shocks me anymore. I can’t remember the last time I cried.


In group, we watch twenty-minute videos of men abusing women emotionally, verbally, and physically. Eyes widen in recognition, and lips tighten. Some faces fill with shame; others harden and look away. Our group is made up of doctors, attorneys, teachers, truck drivers, cops, military men, accountants, computer programmers, fishermen, the unemployed — you name it. At first, men gravitate toward those in similar professions, but by week ten it doesn’t make any difference; class distinctions fade as men face their common truth.

“You beat your wife and kids just like I did,” a man who unloads cartons tells one who owns his own business. The business owner bows his head and nods.

Each week, when I arrive at the police station, men standing in tight clusters greet me, cigarette smoke encircling them like fog. They jokingly call themselves “Michelle’s men,” as if we were performers in a Broadway revue.

We chart a man who killed his six-month-old daughter when his wife left him to baby-sit. He tells his story in a monotone. Tim and I take turns asking him questions. He is the second-most-open man we’ve ever charted. Later, the group talks about the charting.

“I feel for you, man,” a guy says, and the others all nod. “It took guts to tell your story.” They give affirmation after affirmation for his courage. Nobody asks how the man’s ex-wife feels. I am made dizzy by this upside-down world where people are admired, and even exonerated, merely for telling the terrible truth. There are some moments of compassion in the group that make me think I’m getting somewhere — until I realize the compassion these men feel is mostly for fellow abusers, little of it for the women and children who bear the scars of their violence.

Women tell me things about their boyfriends or husbands. They whisper, and their eyes dart around to see if anybody else can hear. They always end by saying, “But he’s not like the men in your group. He’s different.” Nobody wants to be identified as a battered woman, because battered women are held responsible for their abuse. Once a woman has told me her secret, she guiltily avoids me and doesn’t make eye contact, hoping I’ll forget.

A number of men have stayed in the program long past their mandatory six months. We call them the “old-timers.” They’ve been with us for years, know every lesson, and offer sage advice to newcomers. They’re also among the most violent men in the program. They stay because they’re worried about living without the restraining mechanism of a weekly check-in, like an attentive parent, to curtail their abuse. We, in turn, have come to rely on them. They confront others, tease out the truth, and sidestep the fury heaped on us, because each of them is just “one of the guys.”

Tim and I hesitantly accept two teenage boys into the group. Their first day, they feign bravado while their eyes dance with fear. The men in the group are confused about how to handle these newcomers, alternating between being more honest than ever and withholding the most violent parts of their stories. By the third week, the boys are sitting with the old-timers in what looks startlingly like a father-son Boy Scout meeting. Some of the old-timers take the boys to baseball games, and the boys call them on the telephone when they’re feeling violently angry.

One evening, Tim and I overhear a conversation outside the classroom between some group members and the teenagers.

“You’re damn lucky you’re in here,” a gruff voice tells the teens.

“What the hell are you talking about?” the younger of the two responds angrily.

“Listen to what you hear, God damn it,” one of the old-timers says. “I wish somebody had put me in a group like this when I was your age.”

“Yeah,” another agrees, his voice breaking a little. “I’ve lost my wife, my kids, my job, and my self-respect, and I still abuse sometimes.” He sighs. “You’ve got a chance to make your life right. Don’t blow it.”

Another man adds, “Yeah, you’re still a juvie. Once you’re a man, your record follows you everywhere. So don’t be an asshole. Listen.”

My eyes fill with tears. Tim is clearly moved as well. Parenting these boys the way they haven’t parented their own sons becomes the group members’ act of contrition.

After a particularly difficult group session that leaves us exhausted, Tim and I confess to each other that we’ve really grown to care for some of the old-timers. We see how the filaments of each man’s character are as intricately woven as a spider’s web, and as impossible to tease apart. They are complex human beings, as contradictory as the whole spoiled face of American culture.


I’m asked to speak at the local Rotary Club. “We want to learn about who these men are,” the man says confidently on the phone, “and maybe raise some money for their families.”

I tell him that many of the men in my group are very well-educated and earn more than I do. Some are probably even members of the Rotary.

Two days later, he leaves a message on my answering machine informing me that there’s been a scheduling conflict; he’ll get back to me. I never hear from him again.

I teach a college class on violence, and a student confesses that he has slapped his wife. He looks around the room defiantly: “Doesn’t anybody here understand that sometimes it’s unavoidable?” His fellow students appear confused. They don’t know what to say.


Years pass. Nothing in my life remains untouched by my work. Like a sore tooth that twinges at the slightest contact, I’m sensitive to the casual violence everywhere. I cringe at the coarse acceptance of it in our speech: “I wanted to kill somebody,” or, “What you need is a good smack,” and on and on. I long to be cradled, to be innocent again.

My friend who facilitates the group in the next county calls and says she’s positive a man in her group is stalking her. Her voice is faded and edgy, her optimism gone. She keeps the curtains drawn, shops only when her husband can come with her, screens her calls. She’s afraid to get into her car alone. She sees the man everywhere. She asks if she can move him into my group. Tim and I agree. When he arrives, this man seems no different from any other group member. A year or so later, my friend moves away and enters a different profession in another part of the country. I never find out whether the man actually stalked her.

One night, we chart a man who threw his wife down the steps and locked his child in the closet. “I was calm the whole time,” he confesses. This calmness is the earmark of the most dangerous men. I picture him as the eye of a hurricane, everything flying madly around him. He tells of killing his son’s kitten as he smashed everything in the room with a baseball bat.

The men are horrified and shake their heads. “You killed the kitten!”

The man reddens and looks around the room with shame. “I didn’t mean to. It was an accident.”

It’s easier to express horror at the abuse of pets than at the abuse of wives and children, because it’s difficult to blame a pet for your abusive behavior.

Tim and I frequently conduct informational seminars for different organizations. I begin each one by saying, “One-third of the men in this room have hit their wives or some significant other at least once.”

Tim adds, on cue, “But they’ll call it by any other name than what it is: domestic violence.”

We watch each face carefully, and my heart drops, because I know we’re right. I meet Tim’s eyes, as sorrowfully jaded as I know mine must be. For perhaps the last time, I feel closer to him than to anyone else in my life.

He’s been different lately. His tone can be hostile, his language confrontational, his hands sometimes forming fists. He sizes up group members as though measuring his physical strength against theirs. We go out for ice cream to talk about it and end up arguing instead.

“Shit,” he says, and thrusts a big spoonful of ice cream into his mouth. “It’s their fucking attitude that pisses me off.”

I feel a crazy sense of déjà vu. “Didn’t I just hear this kind of thing in group?” I ask.

We say no more about it.

Over lunch, a friend from the shelter mentions a woman who was “only slapped once,” and she and I fall suddenly silent. What was once completely unacceptable is now so commonplace that we’ve grown to tolerate it. Like a well filling slowly with poisoned water, our level of tolerance has risen as time has passed. We reach across the table and clasp hands fiercely. It is clear at that moment what this work is doing to us, but we seem unable to leave this particular world and its hot-wired, jittery energy.


There is a series of rapes in the city. Three of the men decide they’ll walk me to my car after each session until the rapist is caught.

“Don’t you feel scared,” one asks, “walking with three of the meanest guys in town?” His eyes are warm, his voice friendly. He’s in the program because he hit his girlfriend with a telephone.

“No,” I answer, “I feel safer than I would with anyone else.”

One day, we ask the men to list all the derogatory names they can think of for both men and women. We come up with half a blackboard for men — most referring to homosexuals — and three blackboards for women, including words and expressions I’ve never heard, some startling in their descriptive clarity. Everybody laughs as the men try to outdo one another. Tim and I nearly laugh, too, at the absurdity of it all, until we realize what’s happening and call the group back to order.

“This isn’t funny,” I say. “It’s serious. It’s dangerous.”

“This is the technique used to enable people to kill during a war,” Tim says. “Reduce a man to a ‘gook,’ a woman to a ‘cunt,’ and you’re not killing a human being.”

The men sober up, but after group we hear them laughing in the hall and decide it hasn’t been a good lesson.

We forget to erase the blackboards that night, and when we come back the next week, we discover that every police officer on every shift has read the lists. We survey the words one more time.

“It’s a monument to human creativity,” Tim says solemnly. I nod, but my head whirls with anxiety. I’m a woman; is this how they see me?

A group member stalks me. Everybody knows who it is, but there’s no proof. My husband is nervous; he’s tired of my job. “Isn’t it somebody else’s turn yet?” he asks.

A few men wait outside for me after group.

“Would you like us to take care of it?” the fisherman asks. He wears a bandanna on his head and has a thick gray beard. The accountant and the schoolteacher nod. The lawyer is silent.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“You know,” the teacher says, smiling uneasily.

Their concerned faces form a loose circle around me. For the briefest second, I consider their offer. It would be so simple.

I’ve scared myself. “No,” I answer. “You should know better.” Reflexively, I add, “Thanks anyway.” And all the way home I feel guilty about saying thanks.

That night, in bed, I think about every time I’ve raised my voice; every time I’ve yelled at my kids or spanked them or slapped them in frustration; every time I’ve thought, I want to kill somebody, and meant it. I weep in sorrow at my own complicity. I, too, have believed the myth that this kind of behavior is OK.

A few weeks later, a probation officer makes an unannounced visit to my stalker’s house and discovers a roomful of assault weapons. He’s jailed. It’s over.

Other people’s refrigerators are covered with their kids’ report cards and school projects; mine has line graphs that chart monthly rates of domestic violence. Beneath those are graphs that chart the level of domestic violence in different countries; the U.S. is off the charts. When friends visit, they look silently at the refrigerator door, and then turn away.

Tim and I give the men in the group a homework assignment: find ten abusive things in the world around you. The next week, the men return with ads, records, photographs, books, and anecdotes. One who works in a large, well-respected company tells us his boss said a secretary looked like “a nice piece of ass” and that he’d “love to get her alone sometime.” Another says that, when he pointed out to a friend whose wife had broken into tears that he’d treated her abusively, the friend replied irritably, “What the hell’s the big deal, anyway?” Somebody else describes a scene in the movie My Cousin Vinny where the hero drags a screaming woman into the courtroom. “Nobody gives a shit, do they?” this man asks plaintively. Everybody is astonished at how blind people are.

At the end of the session, we’re all exhausted, cowed by the discovery of how pervasive abuse is. I feel defeated and imagine myself as the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, only my finger can’t hold all the water back.

One day at a training seminar for district attorneys, I realize that I’m not making sense; I sound like a madwoman, argumentative and hostile. The DAs snicker and behave like hecklers in a nightclub. I respond like a comic who’s having a bad night. I watch myself from somewhere else and wonder who has control of my mouth.

Whenever I hear a news report about a man who’s killed his wife, I wait anxiously to hear whether the killer is someone from our group.

Tim quarrels with one of the men in group, and it turns bad; the situation is explosive.

“This work changes you for the worse,” I tell him.

I don’t want to work with him anymore.

I don’t want to work with myself.

I quit.

The men are distraught. One compares it to a mother deserting her children. They complain that they were never consulted, that I just made up my mind without them. I explain that the group isn’t a democracy. When we say goodbye, a few have tears in their eyes. Looking directly at Tim, I tell them that I’m confident they’ll make it. It’s a lie.

Tim and I go out for ice cream for the last time. We’re quiet. We know we can’t be friends any longer.

My husband has a bottle of champagne waiting.


A few years later, the wife of one of the old-timers calls. He’s abusing her again, and she asks if I’ll talk to him. I tell her that I don’t do that work anymore and give her the name of somebody who does. After I hang up, I lean back in my chair and think about the man. He had become the primary father figure to the two adolescent boys in the group. Passionately convinced that violence was wrong, he was articulate in encouraging them and the other men to adopt nonviolent behavior. We thought he would make it. He didn’t. Up until now, however, neither of the two boys who idolized him has gone back to being abusive. Both have graduated from high school; one has gone on to college, while the other works in a discount store. I imagine them out there in the world and hope that they can be the men he taught them to be, even though he couldn’t quite get there himself.