"I was a very, very nasty person and not at all who I wanted to be."
This was one south-west man's realisation after being forced to confront the reality that he was a perpetrator of family violence.
The man, who cannot be named, was one of 175 participants in Brophy Youth and Family Services' Men's Behaviour Change program last financial year.
Just one argument, or incident - or excuse - away from crossing a line beyond which there might never be a chance of recovery, this south-west man was forced by his family to seek help.
The man had lost his partner and revealed he had to make sure he didn't lose himself.
"Before starting the Men's Behaviour Change program, I wasn't me," he said.
"I wasn't who I wanted or who I needed to be.
"I needed help with the situation at hand so I called a few people and I eventually found Brophy."
He is 11 weeks into the 21-week program and admits he has a long road to travel until he becomes the person and father he wants to be.
"I didn't actually see what I was doing, I didn't believe I actually was that way until it was too late.
"I pretty much covered every abuse except for the physical."
I can't say I blame my kids or my ex-partner for the way I was, it was purely me. I'm responsible for my own actions.The perpetrator
The man grew up in a similar environment to the one he was putting his own family through; a vicious cycle he hopes to break.
"I guess it was a learnt behaviour," he said. "Seeing my mother and most of my step-fathers getting into verbal arguments and the control they put over her.
"I didn't see a problem with it until I had friends and family turn around and say 'we can't deal with this'. That made me open my eyes - knowing I've pretty much lost everything.
"Doing the group, now I see I was the problem."
The south-west man's partner didn't know her reality was family violence.
"Maybe 18 months ago I realised this was family violence," she said.
"I couldn't visit anyone, not even my family, without being questioned or constantly accused of things. He was manipulative and he verbally abused us. He didn't try and make his own friends which meant my friends were his and he controlled every social situation.
"He was excessive with everything for the entirety of our six-year relationship.
"I couldn't stay in the relationship any longer for my kids. It wasn't fair on them. I refused to put up with it anymore."
The woman is starting to see changes in her former partner since he started the program.
"His behaviour is more positive with me and the kids. He can deal with his anger in a more positive way," she said.
The south-west man likens his situation to a storm. He was the thunder, rumbling before eventually exploding like a bolt of lightning. He said his kids were afraid of his storm and his partner was on the receiving end.
"I wouldn't even give my kids the time of day to be honest, which really hurts to say now," he said.
"I used to antagonise my son a lot. When he'd have an outburst, I'd laugh at him which made the situation worse. Then this would lead to fights with my ex-partner, which were bad.
"I can't say I blame my kids or my ex-partner for the way I was, it was purely me. I'm responsible for my own actions.
"Today I can walk up to my son and help with discipline and talk about situations. He'll wrap his arms around me and squeeze me as tight as he can and say 'I love you Dad' and I look at him and think he's amazing.
"Now I see it wasn't their fault. I'm in control of my anger and how I see things and word things. It takes a lot for me to take responsibility when it's so much easier to point the finger for blame."
The man is urging others to reach out and find help.
"Family violence is a problem," he said. "Men feel like seeking help is a weakness or it's the cowards way. You're not a coward if you need to go and get the help and support you need in order to change the way you react.
"The program has helped with everything and I can see a brighter future.
"I've realised no one's ever alone when it comes to family violence, so don't be afraid to reach out for help."
Men's Behaviour Change program
Detective Sergeant Jason Dance, of the Warrnambool police family violence unit, said his team had introduced measures to enable rehabilitation for offenders.
"The perpetrators of family violence in the south-west are male," he said.
"When we intervene in a family violence matter, we will provide the necessary support services for the victims and the offenders. It is then incumbent on the offenders to make the most out of those opportunities and be proactive in trying to change their behaviours.
"Referring offenders has been something that's come from the Royal Commission; there has been significant investment by the government and the police in relation to support services and I think it's a real change for the good.
"We're not only intervening and prosecuting, we're also providing those opportunities for long-term change."
Detective Sergeant Dance is positive about the services available in the south-west in changing the actions and behaviours of family violence perpetrators.
"The success of those programs are very dependant on the perpetrators to work with those services," he said.
"Recidivism and recidivist offenders is a big part of our family violence problem and it's something that takes up significant resources. There are some people who aren't willing to change or don't use the opportunities presented to them to change, and that's always been the case and something we're working hard to change.
"Anyone can change their behaviour if they've got the determination to do that. But when they're not willing to change their behaviours and continue to commit offences then they'll continue to be prosecuted and police will continue to step in and protect victims."
There are a number of family violence services available across the region with Brophy Family and Youth Services a major provider of these.
Rhonda Carlin is a facilitator and team leader of family violence programs at Brophy.
"Our programs are here to help keep women and children safe by supporting men who use violence to see another way and make those changes to be the person they want to be," she said.
"We see a lot of men go through the course and when they finish, the way they speak and the different outlook they have has made a difference.
"How you base success is so subjective. The success of our program is based on what the affected family members are saying because they're the ones who are experiencing it and who could still experience it.
"Even though we may see behavioural change throughout the program we still get the family safety contact input to check how things are actually going from the point of view of those affected."
The Men's Behaviour Change program is a 21-week program for men aged 18 years and over who are referred by the court, police or are self-referred and wanting to change the use of violence in their past.
"The course is based on the Duluth Curriculum which was the framework developed in America in the response to the battering of women," Ms Carlin said.
"We roll out a 21-week course with key topics based on the framework.
Our programs always go back to keeping those women and children safe.Rhonda Carlin
"It's a rolling group which mean men are entering and exiting the group weekly, enabling us to keep wait list times down and there is a constant flow in the group.
"Men can be self-referred or they are required to do the program by magistrates or they're mandated by child protection."
Other family violence services offered through Brophy include men and family relationships counselling and support, men's case management and family violence counselling and support for women and children.
While there are a number of family violence services to aid those affected by violence and to help reform perpetrators, a key factor in Brophy's family violence services is the support for those impacted by violence.
"Our programs always go back to keeping those women and children safe," she said.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.