About Our Founder
In 2005, Michael Clark* hit rock bottom. He was arrested for domestic violence twice that year and sent to jail both times. He was later sentenced to attend 36 weeks of a Batterers’ Intervention Program (BIP) and given probation. His wife and stepchildren moved out and he was prohibited from having any contact with them through a restraining order.
Michael knew this was not the man he wanted to be. He loved his wife and children and did not want to hurt them. He had a good-paying job and was relatively well-known in the community. He could see his actions were putting all that he valued–his marriage, his family, his job, his reputation, and even his freedom–at risk. He wanted to change but didn’t know how. Everything he’d tried in the past fell short.
The mandated BIP class was little help. The message Michael heard there was, essentially, that he and other men hit their partners because of their macho attitude of entitlement. To stop abusing their partners, they simply needed to know that hitting a woman is wrong and drop their male-superiority beliefs. This message didn’t make sense to Michael because he already knew hitting was wrong. He also did not feel superior or entitled. From conversations with other men in the class, he could tell that message did not resonate with them either.
Aside from the sting of shame he felt from the judicial system and BIP classes, Michael mostly found them frustrating. They were not helping him solve his problem and make real, lasting change. Because he did not want to be a violent man, in trouble with the law, or lose the things he valued most in life, he was highly motivated to find an answer.
Michael dug into every book he could find on the subject, including those written for therapists or academics. He doubled and redoubled the time he spent with a counselor to better understand what he was learning from his reading, how his own mind worked, and how his past experiences were steering his reactions in the wrong direction. He refused to abandon his quest for change, even when his own path became discouraging.
During this time, Michael reluctantly began attending church because it was the only time he could see his wife. The messages Michael heard there were different than how he’d remembered church. Rather than a list of rules to keep, he heard about God’s love for him. He also heard testimony from people whose lives had been radically changed for the better once they accepted a relationship with God. Michael remained curious but skeptical about this religious stuff. About a year later, Michael had particularly difficult week when it looked like the marriage he was trying to save was going to end anyway. He prayed, confessing to God that he’d made a mess of his life, and asking God to help him change. He was immediately filled with a sense that God was there, giving him his first gentle lesson about patience. Michael’s relationship with God has continued to grow closer ever since.
Michael credits the combination of good counseling and a relationship with God for his transformation. Counseling peeled back the layers, helping him identify that the triggers he was reacting to were related to the unanswered questions of, “Am I lovable?” His relationship with God, the creator of the universe, convinced him the answer was “Yes!”
Michael took lots of notes during this process: books he read, concepts that made sense, thought patterns that led to better outcomes, techniques that were helpful, etc. He filled several journals with what worked and what didn’t. As his transformation continued, he felt called to share what he learned with other men who were starting from the same place: motivated to stop hurting the ones they love, but not sure how.
Since his transformation, Michael has been violence free. He says what’s even better is he feels a peace that profoundly and positively impacts his relationships with his children, co-workers, acquaintances, and strangers. While his marriage did not survive, he now enjoys a loving, drama-free, and violence free relationship with an amazing and beautiful partner, Lynn. Michael and Lynn have a lazy goldendoodle named Hank and a jittery but lovable tabby cat named Bear. Together they enjoy spending time with their friends, adult children, traveling, hiking, kayaking, and working on home projects.
* Honesty, transparency, and integrity are core values at the Ananias Foundation. Therefore, we feel obligated by those values to say that Michael Clark is our founder’s pseudonym.
We want to keep the barriers as low as possible for individuals seeking help. As we considered the pros and cons of using Michael’s real name vs. a pseudonym, this one reason stood out. The social stigma against those who do harm is great. In fact, it prevents many from seeking help for fear of being judged or risk suffering social and financial consequences.
We are founded on the principle that the Ananias Foundation be a place where individuals can go anonymously to get help. We provide our information freely and without forcing anyone seeking it to provide contact information (unless he or she wants to). When we share stories about others on this journey, we only use first names or initials so the individual, their partner, and their family cannot be connected.
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