The Star of Domestic Violence Class

The Star of Domestic Violence Class

By Amy Dresner 02/03/12

During my worst relapse, I pulled a knife on my ex and was assigned domestic violence classes. The most terrifying part of it all? In some ways, I'm the healthiest one in the group.

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I pretend that I’m better than these women. But the reality is I’m worse: I was more violent with a worse drug problem, a shorter and less successful marriage and I'm also mentally ill. I come from a privileged upbringing with loving parents and a crippling amount of money. I don’t have more excuses. I have fewer.

We are all very different but also so similar. And we are all still in shock that we ended up here. For the first few months, anger bounced around the room: anger at the cops, anger our “victim” had called the cops, anger at ourselves for drinking, smoking, doping too much. Eventually that veneer of denial fell away and the sadness surfaced as we struggled to take responsibility for our actions. I want to think that my meds were off or that I was high on painkillers—that this was why I had pulled a knife on my husband. But the ugly truth is that I’d been abusive for years. And to face and own that darkness will be a long journey for me.

Is the class helping us? I'm not entirely sure, but I do know that we're all grateful that this class (plus community service) will get the word "misdemeanor" expunged from our records. But I don’t see anybody besides me getting sober, despite the many threats from the facilitator who administers the drug tests. On the upside, I do think we've all learned our lesson (as expensive and heartbreaking as it’s been). But I guess only time will tell. I can only hope that when the rage rises again, as it inevitably will, that we will each remember to go on a walk, take a breath, make a call and remember this room.

Amy Dresner is sober comedian who liberally pulls material from her depressive illness and drug addiction. She's also written about sex and dating and managing chronic pain in sobriety, among many other topics, for The Fix.