Khulisa voice: Simon’s story

Simon* is a 28 year old man who was sentenced to time in prison for an assault in a nightclub. Simon was referred to Khulisa's 'Silence the Violence' programme after he said he wanted to understand why he had reacted in the way he did when confronted with conflict.

Simon described conflict situations where he just seemed to lash out, almost as if a red mist descended on him where he wasn’t able to think about his actions until after the event. Part of Khulisa’s ‘Silence the Violence’ programme involves making masks to give participants a chance to explore different sides of their personality that make up a part of them – not the whole. During the mask making exercise, Simon drew a mask which represented how he feels when he’s angry and triggered. He commented how the mouth of the mask was compressed, and clenched together, saying it represented how he felt. After a one to one discussion with the psychotherapist leading the course, he said,
"When I was a child, my mum was physically abused by her partner, and I always felt like I couldn't say anything because I knew if I did that would get her in even more trouble. So I used to clench my jaw to keep myself quiet and after a while, I couldn't even speak when I was angry - I just used to hit out."
This realisation helped Simon to see how he could learn to express his frustrations verbally, by starting to note when his jaw became clenched, and to try to speak before defaulting to his habitual reaction of hitting out. In this way, Simon understood the reasons for his inability to speak, and was able to make a vow that not only would he try to change his responses to conflict situations, but crucially that he would break this generational cycle of behaviour and not pass it on to his own son.

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