A member of the support staff of a University was intimidating his staff and being verbally abusive. He had been told that he must change his behaviour or he was in danger of losing his job, and that he might find some time with me helpful. He was a very big man, an expert in martial arts and had been violent in the past.
I listened to him carefully without judging or blaming and so he told me his story.
He was the youngest of five children and when he did not do as he was told, he was beaten. He was partially deaf, so often did not hear what was expected, but this was not diagnosed until he was five years old. His protests were ignored.
When I said he did not deserve to be beaten, his eyes filled with tears. It was a great relief to tell his story. He realised he got aggressive to avoid being hurt and this might have been necessary then but was not necessary now.
Both he and his colleagues say he is a changed man, being gentler, much more positive and more relaxed with his people. I met him again two years after the four half-day sessions we had and the changes had stuck.
He came to an event I ran on stress and said “I wanted to come, because if you can do for others, what you did for me, I want to support you”.