Former abuser speaks out on domestic violence

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It’s a deep, dark secret that needs to be let out in the open before things can get better. That’s how one man describes his painful journey as a former abuser.

Brian Kohatsu started turning his life around 10 years ago. He says he had to hit rock bottom before he got better.

Domestic violence incidents have been prevalent in the news and they always hit a nerve for the 50-year-old Kohatsu.

“It hurts because I’m part of that, the men that we seek to hold accountable. I’m part of that group,” he said.

Kohatsu is one of the featured speakers in the Men’s March Against Violence. In his past relationships, he was an abuser, not just physically, but emotionally. Most times, putting women down and taking away their self-worth.

“It is the power and control that is at the heart of it, it is using fear, it is using different tactics to kind of maintain that environment. It’s also using that to maintain the secret,” Kohatsu said.

A secret he was able to maintain in public among friends. Like many other abusers, he was a victim as a child.

“I grew up in a very violent household. I was also sexually abused by a family friend,” he said.

He says it didn’t seem to make sense that he would become an abuser, because he grew up hating violent behavior. But he says it went beyond his control, fueled by his addiction to drugs and alcohol. It all came crashing down in 2009, when he was arrested and sent to jail.

“My parents had passed away, I wasn’t doing the things I was supposed to, my kids got taken away, my house was under foreclosure,” Kohatsu said.

He says he was able to climb out of that hole with help from others who got him talk about it rather than hiding the anger. It wasn’t easy and he says it’s a constant struggle. But his message to other men is to do the same.

“I think it’s time to speak about it more openly and to challenge all of these things and ask men to be a part of this,” he said.

Kohatsu is now a certified substance abuse counselor and licensed social worker, helping men and boys avoid what he has experienced.

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