Photo by flickrolf
An ex - mens group member speaks out.
When "John" loss contact he was devastated. He tried every avenue that was available to him with no success. "Joining mens groups seemed like the only thing I could do and feel as though I was doing something worthy". "John" attended meetings and reached out to others that felt the same pain. Some were still in mourning, while others channeled their anger into retribution.
After joining, his friends noticed that he started to change. " I knew him for years and I never saw him speak down to women, but after joining this mens group - he became irritable and domineering to our female friends". One day after a meeting, John bumped into a close female friend who was going through family violence and divorce. Despite being covered in bruises, he told her that she should return. "This was so unlike John, I had to do something", recalled his best friend.
His best friend who also wishes to be unnamed, took him to meet a member of cult survivors. Whilst the mens group that John had joined was not religious, it resembled somepolitical cults that alienated their members from the rest of the world. Divided between two perceptions of how he was influenced by this group, he decided to question the leader about some of the information he was giving to the members. That was when the trouble started. He began to receive threatening phone calls and was accused of being a "feminazi". "I had to pack up and leave". Gathering his possessions, he moved far away from where the group was based and started yet again.
With the support of his friends and professional counselling, John was able to start again. John felt that he didn't have enough room in his life for another relationship, but still felt a sense of emptiness. "Have you ever thought about fostering? There are lots of kids out there that would love to have a caring guy like you around?" suggested his counselor in their closing session. After screening and foster care training, John began taking kids in for respite care. He joined a carer network to swap strategies and connect with others who understood. He would care for young people who had no safe place to go and began to see them heal. After two years of being a respite foster carer, he has never looked back. "Its challenging, I have had holes in the walls and things go missing - but nothing compared to celebrating their achievements that we never even dreamed of when they started, worth more than gold".
If you would like to find out more about fostering children in Australia, click here.