As your letter indicates, if something does not change, you are at risk of committing a more serious criminal act and going to prison. You must do everything in your power to avoid that outcome. If you can’t control your behavior, then you need outside help.
If you want to know how bad prison can be, read Inside: Life Behind Bars in America by Michael Santos. Michael Santos was incarcerated for 25 years of a 45-year sentence for felony drug charges. I would provide an excerpt, but it would be too graphic. If you are interested, read his book. It will allow you to vicariously experience the horrors of prison life without actually having to be there.
Another place to learn about horrible prison conditions are the many lawsuits filed against incarceration facilities. It’s fair to say that the conditions are worse than we can imagine. Some prisoners live in solitary confinement 23 out of 24 hours a day. They’re locked away in a cell no bigger than a parking space and have virtually no contact with people beyond correctional officers who have become desensitized to the plight of prisoners.
Extensive isolation leads to severe mental breakdowns. If you want to see how bad prison life can be, watch the HBO documentary Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison. Red Onion is a super max facility in Virginia. One guard describes finding an inmate chewing a large hole in his arm. That’s only a snippet of the wretchedness of prison life. You’re free now, but without a change in behavior you risk being locked in a cage for the rest of your life. Watching the Red Onion documentary might help you to appreciate your freedom.
If you can’t afford treatment, go to the local community mental health center. They often provide free services for those who cannot afford to pay. Tell them you want to meet with a therapist. A good therapist will know how to help you. They will be able to teach you alternative ways of handling strong emotions.
One area of therapeutic focus may be sublimation. Sublimation is a defense mechanism where unacceptable impulses are transformed into socially acceptable actions. A therapist will help you to engage in socially acceptable behavior. That means expending your energy on prosocial instead of antisocial activities, positive instead of troublesome behaviors. It is not an overstatement to suggest that treatment could mean the difference between you having a good life or a life in prison.
Start the process of seeking help by googling “community mental health” and your ZIP Code. Inquire about free anger management services in your community. If you have health insurance, call the one 800 number on the back of the card. Another option is to contact the local church to ask about their free counseling services. You might enlist your parents or good friends to assist you in finding treatment. The goal is to find free or low-cost assistance and to do so immediately before something bad happens.
If you think that you might harm yourself or someone else, go to the emergency room at your local hospital. They will prevent you from harming yourself or others and they will ensure that you have follow-up services.
It is important understand that hurting animals and people are immoral acts that are illegal. You have attacked creatures that were much smaller and weaker than yourself. They could not defend themselves. A friend once shared with me the words of wisdom told to him by his father. His father told him ” no matter how tough you think you are, there is always someone tougher.” Apparently, you haven’t encountered that “tougher someone.” The law of averages says that you will. It is only a matter of time. When that happens, you will be the one having your teeth pulled from your jaw or your eyes plucked from their sockets. It would be wrong for that to happen to you and it is equally wrong for you to do that to someone, anyone, else.
You have attacked the weaker and helpless. How would you feel if you or your mother or sister was attacked by someone much bigger and stronger? Every religion, every nation sees such acts as reprehensible and beneath the dignity of humanity. Would you be alright with someone bigger and stronger ripping your teeth from your mouth or your sister’s mouth? I hope not. These acts are disgusting, immoral and illegal. There are reasons why you do what you do and feel what you feel. You need to discover what they are and change how you behave. If not you will pay dearly in this life and, as so many believe, much more dearly in the life that follows.
You’ve already hurt people (in self-defense) and thus the risk of you doing it again is imminent, which is why treatment is necessary. If you don’t make changes, there is a high likelihood that you will lose your freedom, perhaps for the rest of your life.
The fact that you are asking for help suggests that you are open to change and would benefit from treatment. That is a hopeful sign. Your writing this letter is the first step in making positive changes in your life. The next step involves you attending treatment and hopefully this letter helps you to find it. Please write if you have additional questions. Thank you for your question.
Dr. Kristina Randle