A prison program in California has been chipping away at an important layer of our society-toxic masculinity.
G. R. I. P. (Guiding Rage Into Power) is a “violence prevention and emotional intelligence life skills program” that is used in the San Quentin State Prison system. As a one-year program that is trauma based, the program works to heal prisoners and get down to the root of their pain.
Childhood and adult trauma are extremely high among incarcerated persons, according to a report by Nancy Wolff and Jing Shei, released in the US National Library of Medicine. This report reads that 1 in 6 state male inmates experienced sexual or physical abuse before the age 18, and over half of male inmates reported experiencing childhood physical trauma.
It isn’t always easy for society to discuss the trauma that men face, or for men to be open about it; GRIP gives these men a chance to share that trauma. It is real and it does matter.
The program is described as a process that tends to “‘unfinished business’ that relates to traumatic experiences that have become formative defense mechanisms which generate triggered reactions.”
Although our American society is advancing rapidly with movements that are paving way for women to be treated equal, we still have some adjustments to make. One important factor that is not always considered, is how we treat our young men. There is a heavy stereotype that young men must face when they are experiencing trauma- they are expected to be “strong” and uphold personalities that scream toxic masculinity.
Women make up 8% of the incarcerated population. Young men in this country, especially black and brown men, are systematically set up to be incarcerated. According to the NAACP, African Americans and Hispanics made up approximately 32% of the US population in 2015 but compromised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.
Chief Probation Officer Lee Seale of Sacramento, too, believes that we must break the stereotype.
“An important component of rehabilitation is getting young men to talk — using their voice instead of their fists or weapons — and breaking down the stereotype of the strong, silent man.” says Chief Probation Officer Lee Seale.