'Man Up' workshop focuses on anger control

Communication is a key to being human, and so is the need to be understood. But getting angry and reactive when frustration reaches a tipping point can be deadly, say organizers of a workshop designed to help battle domestic violence.

Joel Turgesen, a local counselor, is one of several facilitators organizing the "Sign Up to Man Up" men's event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Medford. (Correction: See below.)

If you go

What: "Sign Up to Man Up" workshop

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13

Where: St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 426 W. Sixth St., Medford

Cost: $15 (scholarships available)

Register: https://sites.google.com/site/realyouadventures/Upcoming-Adventures or call Joel Turgesen at 541-779-0103.

There have been 10 domestic violence fatalities in Jackson County since March 2011, with six women and four children murdered.

The seven-hour workshop aims to help men increase their awareness of "the anatomy of a reaction" and help them feel more centered, grounded and rational when conflict rises in their domestic relationships, Turgesen said.

Most men can't relate to the level of violence that lands loved ones in hospitals or worse, he said. But "everyone has their breaking point," he added.

"And taken to the extreme, that's what happens," Turgesen said.

Turgesen took part in a vigil last October that called on men to "man up" and help end domestic violence. Men are as dismayed as women at the uptick in domestic violence, he said, but most don't know how they can help.

But there is a lot men can do to make the world a better, safer place.

And learning to manage their emotions when the heat is on in their own domestic relationships is a key step toward improvement, Turgesen said.

When a person operates from the "fight or flight" portion of their brains, things can quickly get out of control. Or even turn deadly, he said.

"Studies have shown that when you are reactive, you lose 30 IQ points," Turgesen said.

The workshop, the first of several planned, will teach ways for men to "get back in balance after being triggered," and to recognize projections and understand how to use them constructively.

"We'd also like to see some workshops for women and for couples," Turgesen said.

Both sexes need to be understood. Both people need to "feel heard," he said.

Identifying different anger styles, learning communication tools, appreciating personality differences and understanding the role of conflict in personal growth are skills that can help a person resolve conflict.

Communication breaks down because of subconscious triggers that are not fully understood, and rational thought goes out the window. People are most easily triggered into reactive behavior by those closest to them, especially by their intimate partners, he said.

"People get really angry at their partners, and they think they're falling out of love," Turgesen. "That's not typically the case."

But family life is a hotbed of trials, tribulations and opportunities for spiritual growth, he said.

"It will show you what you're made of," he said.

Men, for the most part, have been raised by women, and in some cases traumatized by them, he said.

"We need to really look at that," Turgesen said.

Turgesen said he and the other facilitators will lead a discussion that will include a pledge by the men that they will protect the women in their lives. They will promise to teach their sons how to better manage their anger by first understanding, and then changing, their own behavior. And they will commit to taking reproductive responsibility, he said.

"I personally think there would be fewer issues with abortion if there were more responsible men," Turgesen said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.

Correction: The spelling of Joel Turgesen's name has been corrected throughout this story.

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