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Online Training Lesson #4: Drew Barley’s Story

Stories of Hope and Inspiration After Violence

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Listen to this lesson

Lesson #4

Shy and withdrawn by nature, Drew presents as a young man who would rather have attention directed towards someone other than himself. The backward facing baseball cap redirects hair that otherwise would fall on his face, obscuring his youthful features. His appearance suggests that he does not spend much time on how he looks: baggy jeans and an oversized tee-shirt are his signature clothing items.

Drew refers to the incident that brought him to the batterer intervention program as a domestic disturbance situation with me and my wife. Drew and Kate have been together for 12 years and married for 8; they share two children, an infant daughter and an eight year old son.

When we first meet Drew he had just completed 10 weeks of the 52 week faith-based program. I got sent here by my probation officer…for some reason when I drink…I was intoxicated the night that it happened and it was pretty bad and I mean it was pretty bad for us, just ‘cause we have never dealt with anything like that and my newly born daughter was there so…as far as the law was concerned that escalated it to the higher level [interviewer: a felony upgrade?]. Yeah, I didn’t end up with a felony…’cause my record was clean other than this incident.

A high-school athlete himself, Drew takes great pride in the relationship he has with his son, Sean. I go to Friday groups, I used to be in Tuesday but I coach my son’s football team so they let me switch.  Like his father before him, Drew coaches the teams on which his son plays.  My dad coached all my baseball and football teams and stuff like that until I got to junior high—it’s fun, it’s definitely a challenge.

Like other men in the intervention program, Drew has little difficulty expressing how the group has impacted his life.  I am actually excited because me and my wife are doing a lot better than we ever have in the twelve years that we have been together. And I am looking to seeing where it takes us in the future…this whole deal, it has helped me be a better husband and father… I never ever really stepped forward and volunteered to do stuff as a family so I am looking forward to it… It’s definitely headed in the right direction.

For Drew, it is the curriculum that lies at the heart of the intervention program which he is mandated to attend.  The thing I like about it is they teach you different ways of handling a situation…I wouldn’t have done it on my own, just because I wouldn’t have really thought about it. But with their knowledge and their background, they can definitely teach you and show you different ways of handling negative situations and turning them into a positive…and working things out. That’s what has helped me the most…

The faith component of the program was rather irrelevant to Drew, it didn’t make too much of a difference, ‘cause like I said, I was pretty green about any of this kind of stuff…

Since adulthood, Drew has never attended church, it’s not that I don’t believe in it, it’s just that I don’t go. When he was a child, Drew accompanied his mother and brother to a weekly service, but now we always have a bunch of stuff going on.

Reflecting on his childhood, Drew talks about how his father drank a lot when he was younger. Then he mentions his parent’s divorce, though he is quick to add they both did what they could to take care of the kids no matter whatever problems they were having. Later on he talks at some length of his dad’s involvement in his sports. Clearly for Drew, the bonding that occurs around sports between son and father had an enormous impact, one which he wants desperately to carry on with Sean.

Unlike most of the other men in the batterer intervention group, Drew is not battling alcohol or drug addictions. I didn’t get assigned any alcohol treatment or nothing like that…I didn’t drink every day, when I did drink I didn’t really know when to quit, I just drink myself until I passed out or whatever. It was only maybe twice a month…it wasn’t like I was one of those guys that just couldn’t wait to get off to go drink…

Has he stopped drinking altogether?  I haven’t had a drink or a beer or whatever since that incident so …that’s one of my agreements but it is part of my probation too….yeah it’s part of my probation, plus it’s an agreement between me and my wife and she drank even less than me.  At the time of our first interview, Drew had not had any alcohol for 4 months.

For three years, Drew has worked the graveyard shift at a brewery distribution centre, a job he received through another male family member who was similarly employed. His work is repetitive, but the midnight hours mean less contact with other people—something that makes the work quite attractive to him. The younger men at the brewery, who are in their late teens, sometimes bother him. However, group attendance has given him skills to ignore their inappropriate comments or respond in ways he would have never considered earlier in his life.

What advice would he give to other men in similar situations? Just work as hard as you can to make yourself a decent home life and …just to strive and be the best father and husband you can.  Do everything in your power and ability to make it a good place.

Six months later, at our follow-up interview, Drew reports that everything is going great. He is halfway through the 52 week intervention program, continuing with other therapeutic options (marriage counseling at another agency, plus private individual counseling for his wife), still working nights at the brewery and coaching his son’s basketball team.

The intervention has been successful from Drew’s point of view, it’s helped a lot. Prior to the batterer group Drew is mandated to attend, his wife had sought therapeutic assistance for a variety of issues, yet he was unwilling to accompany her. She’s been seeing an individual counselor previous to the incident with us and I was always the stubborn one that never thought I needed it or could use it but of course…I wish I had just pulled my head out a little earlier. But everything is going really good, kids are happy, we are happy, we are plugging along…I check in with [name of probation officer] once a month.

Referring to the other men in the group, Drew adds there’s certain people…same problems as me and as they are talking and I am talking you know we do have some sort of connection…that part I have enjoyed, but yeah, all of it’s helped.

We ask Drew whether matters of religion or spirituality are raised in the group context.  No, they don’t push that on anybody. I mean every once in a while it’s brought up, they bring it up in something they are talking about, but they don’t push anything on anybody and that’s probably another thing that makes it very comfortable. ‘Cause they know everybody is not a regular attender of church or a specific organization but they don’t push any of that on you. But they do mention it, you know. I mean they usually work it into something that they are talking about, which is fine.

We discuss group dynamics. Drew seems to be very impressed with how the facilitators respect the men and offer suggestions without being too pushy. They definitely don’t tell you how to solve it, they give you the tools to use and kind of leave it up to you; it’s up to the individual to use it ...if the situation comes up, and I remember something, then I will use those tools that I remember.

At home, Drew is focused on improved communication, something he believes is critical for their family unit.  I still want to work on communication. Me and my wife, I think my kids I communicate a lot better with them and I believe that there’s still work to do but one of my main goals is to get me and my wife’s communication a little better….I want to work on for myself not being so defensive and being more apologetic about stuff I do that offends her, or that she disagrees with, or something. An apology definitely goes a long way, helps the healing process, which, in the past, I have never apologized. I was pretty stubborn.

Drew concludes our second interview with optimism.  I think we have come a long way but I am not giving up, because like any other situation there’s always little stuff you can do. It’s like working on a house. There’s plenty to do.

Prepared by:  Nancy Nason-Clark

Questions to Consider:

    1. What are Drew’s greatest needs at this time in his life?
    2. What might a local congregation offer to a man in Drew’s situation?
    3. How could a minister in the local area where the Barley family resides make connections with them?
    4. As a pastor, how do you think a faith-based batterer intervention program might provide community ministry opportunities to local congregations?