By Max Chadwick
Blueprint is a programme for men who are living with, or have lived with, abuse from their partner.
It is a program written by a man who lived with abuse. It helps other men explore themselves and their primary relationship.
Awareness is the foundation of Blueprint. Awareness of what drives us as people, the needs and expectations within our relationships, and how things can become dysfunctional and even dangerous.
The awareness gained by carefully working through the program, can enable men to become conscious of their own needs. These needs are the drivers in relationships, and these needs and drivers can be used against a man, to keep him compliant, emasculated and feeling vulnerable.
Once a man becomes conscious of his needs and how they may be manipulated, he gains perspective and understanding. If applied to his relationship, this understanding brings about some emotional and mental space with which to view his relationship from a more detached perspective.
So almost paradoxically, this ‘inner’ work, then brings clarity to his ‘external’ relationship, he begins to see the wood for the trees.
We want men to become aware enough to ask ‘What is really going on?’
Abuse in a relationship causes drama, misperception, confusion; it’s a lesson in smoke and mirrors. This is what the abuse is for, because with a clear view and understanding of what is taking place, the man living with abuse would begin to question the legitimacy of his partner’s actions. Abuse misdirects, it distorts reality and manipulates the mind. The smoke and mirrors are to keep the person living with abuse away from the truth; that they are being manipulated, controlled and harmed, in order for the person who is displaying the abusive behaviour to get their needs meet and to feel validated.
When you are living with abuse, you are not yourself, you are not thinking clearly and your emotions are extremely aroused. The decisions you make are not really yours, they are not meant to be, they are what is best for the person who is displaying abusive behaviour towards you. That’s why they abuse you.
An abuser wants to be in your mind – all the time. This ‘all the time in your mind’ gives them the validation they crave, and their need is so strong they will take ever increasing steps to make sure that you comply.
Understand this – you are almost certainly thinking far too much about the person who is displaying abusive behaviours towards you. ‘All the time, in your mind’. You are trying to figure them out, trying to understand them, trying to get to grips with their behaviour, trying to see where it all went wrong. This is classic smoke and mirrors, because as long as you are thinking about them, you are not thinking about yourself and on what basis your relationship actually subsists.
The drama, the threats, the put downs, the moods all lead to one place – they are in your head, and the abuse has served its purpose. And so it goes around in circles of stimulation and response.
After a while, you become someone just ‘living with abuse’.
Awareness is vital at this point, because by becoming conscious that you are in a dangerous and dysfunctional relationship, you begin the process of de-legitimisation of their behaviour, and take the crucial first step in making a true personal choice about what you wish to do.
Without this awareness, you will be tempted to reframe the incidents as ‘one offs’, just the same as any other couple, just the way they are or even ‘maybe I need to change’, ‘maybe it’s because of me’, ‘I need to stay because of the children’, ‘no-one will believe me’, ‘I should ‘man up’ – and an endless list of minimising and denying.
Ultimately, with all the best will in the world from others, the only person that can change your situation is you. You will only do this when you realize that firstly something is wrong with your relationship and secondly that maintaining the status quo is more painful than beginning to make changes.
Staying in an abusive situation never works. Ever. It can only get worse.
Yes, people displaying abusive behaviour can change, and sometimes do – but it is only after a concerted effort to take responsibility for their behaviour and the underlying causes and receiving professional help. No matter what they say, that is the only way, as this behaviour is driven by deep seated physiological issues that need specialist help. Without help, the abusive behaviour will return, even if it takes another form.
As is well documented, people living with abuse, often leave and return many times. Or they just stay, until things get so bad that they are forced by circumstances to leave or feel they are forced to stay.
By understanding what needs of yours are being met by staying, what your payoff for staying is (there is always a payoff), you can begin the process of exploration of who you are and what you want. You can make healthy, life affirming decisions that although difficult and painful, are made with clarity and deeper understanding – this will vastly increase the chances of you dealing honestly with the person who is displaying the abusive behaviour.
Awareness brings strength and clarity, it enables you to be vulnerable and open, yet strong and honest with yourself and others about what is going on. Because you then have a framework and context to understand the dynamics of your relationship.
You need to know, to understand what is really going on, and to understand that you are not to blame, not weak, not alone.
Knowledge comes through awareness, you cannot know what you are not aware of.
Blueprint, if explored and worked through carefully and willingly, will enable a new level of awareness. I know this, because it’s what I used over the years to extricate myself from the ravages of an extremely violent and abusive relationship.
The material in the program has been tried and tested by many, many men that we have worked with. Like anything it’s not a miracle cure, and it will take courage and work to get the results. You are exploring yourself after all, and that isn’t a walk in the park. But it is a journey you can begin, and the abuse that you have lived with can act as a catalyst for genuinely positive change.
It takes courage to do this sort of work as a man, especially with all the messages around self-control and masculinity we pick up all our lives. But it really is worthwhile and will develop the process of being a more genuine you, and a safer you.
Some information about men living with abuse (please note that the Blueprint programmes via the Brightlink website are not intended to replace face to face, real time help for violence or abuse, if you are in danger please contact the emergency services immediately):
One in six men will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime.
One in every three victims of domestic abuse is male
Male victims (39%) are over three times more likely than women (12%) not to tell anyone about the partner abuse they are suffering from. Only 10% of male victims will tell the police (26% women), only 23% will tell a person in an official position (43% women) and only 11% (23% women) will tell a health professional
4.4% of men stated that they have experienced domestic abuse in 2015/16, equivalent to an estimated 716,000 male victims
In 2015/2016, 28 men died at the hands of their partner or ex-partner
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