Support Groups, are you addicted?

One of the crazy things I have noticed over time is how people get addicted to Support Groups. You know, those types of groups like Victims Support, or Addiction Support groups. It seems to me, that a lot of those in those groups almost need to be in Support Group Addicts Anonymous.

Now don’t get me wrong, Support Groups for various reasons are needed, this isn’t an attack on the groups themselves, but for a long time, I have observed people, who have become involved in these groups at first because of genuine need, but then years and years later, they seem to not want to move on from whatever led them to the group in the first place. They are like Support Group junkies.

When my life as I knew it self destructed just over 4 years ago, I went to a support group in Australia called Mensline, I needed advice, I needed someone to talk to. I had some telephone sessions with one of their counselors, which was very beneficial, and became involved with their online forums.

Here I was, a guy who had left an abusive relationship, taking my then 2 year old son with me. Not something that is a regular occurrence for a male. I chatted on some discussions online about things, put a few topics up of my own, and then I realised something. Because my situation is actually quite a rare one, where a Dad leaves with the kids, there wasn’t all that much advice all these other men could give me.

Yes, there were aspects of things that were useful, but some of the more immediate things, like how to look after a 2 year old all on your own, when the world just can’t seem to get it’s head around that idea, was met with silence. I was okay with that to a certain extent, I was fortunate enough to have my mother nearby to be able to help me navigate some of the things that the system didn’t seem ready to deal with a father about. I mean, taking your son to a check up at the “Maternal and Child” Health clinic and for his immunisations. Then being pretty much ignored when trying to enroll my son in Kindergarten, having to resort to getting my mother to come along to get it done ( there’s nothing more embarrassing than being a grown, 36 year old man, having to get “mummy” to help, because the system can’t deal with a situation out of the norm. )

After a bit more time on the support group forums, I noticed something else. The addicts. The ones that had been on there for 7, 8, 9 years. Still talking about what happened to them like it was yesterday, not nearly a decade ago. They just weren’t moving on with their live. They offer dud advice. They talk with a tainted view, not actually helping anyone else move on either. It’s sort of like a community of people stuck in limbo, a limbo of their own choosing. They also become quite radical in the way they fight for their causes, become extremely combative, and working in a way that doesn’t do their causes any good at all.

It’s quite frustrating, at the end of the day, when you are trying to make a change for the good, discussing issues with people outside of the group, trying to work to make things better for everyone, and then these addicts come blurting and destroy every bit of progress you have made. The other problem is, if they are from a group that society is generally sympathetic to, they misuse their position, to the extent of trying to get laws changed for their own cause, often resorting to reverse discrimination to achieve this. At the end of the day, it doesn’t work, because even if it gets enacted in law, the first time that law is tested, it gets thrown in the bin.

Take for example the current debate in Australia right now about Domestic Violence. We have it shoved down our throats that all victims are women, and all abusers are men. This is despite the fact that every 10 days, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a man is killed by his female partner. 1 in 3 victims is actually a male. Yes, I acknowledge that 2 women every 10 days are victims of spousal homicide, I don’t deny that fact at all. It is horrific. And here is my point. The Support Groups of Female Victims don’t want to acknowledge the figures centred on male victims. If you have been a male victim of Domestic Violence, they want you to shut up. You aren’t allowed to have a voice. The whole discussion has been hijacked by Support Group Addicts, or Support Group Junkies. Then, you have the Support Group Junkies from the men’s side go all irrational, and basically acting in such a combative way that they don’t do their own cause justice. As a person that just wants justice for ALL victims, not just one sex, it is really frustrating. You find yourself caught in the middle, and become collateral damage of, the Support Group Junkies of both sides.

The really bad side of all this is, when only one side has the ear of the law makers, bad laws are made. And to make matters worse, because said laws generally are discriminatory in nature towards one sex or the other, it will be tested, and most probably by someone who actually deserves to be locked up, but because the discriminatory nature of the laws, they walk free.

And the blame, and quite deservedly, sits on the shoulders of the Support Group Addicts.

Please, if you have found yourself stuck in a support group for many years, it is time to move your life forward. It doesn’t mean that you forget about what ever it was that led you to need the support group, but don’t get stuck in the past, let yourself move forward, and get on with the next phase of your life.

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