Husband got help with violence

March 06, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

HALFWAY - Anger, jealousy and distrust boiled inside Jeff Shaffer.

For a long time, the Halfway resident hadn't felt very important, he said.

He didn't like it when his wife of five years went out with her friends, and unfairly suspected her of having an affair with a co-worker.

As his anger festered, he began to drink after work.

"I was like a pressure cooker," said Shaffer, 28. "Then I snapped."

He struck his wife after an alcohol-fueled verbal fight, he said.

"That was the end of the road," Shaffer said. "I feel terrible that I could do something like that to the person I love."

He lost his job, his dignity, his wife's trust and his family's respect.

Maryland State Police arrested him, but his wife dropped the charge of second-degree assault

The Washington County State's Attorney's Office picked it up, he said. He had already been charged with second-degree assault for an incident at work, he said.


He was held on $15,000 bond.

"I needed to get some help and I wasn't getting it," Shaffer said. "I felt I was so close to losing her that it was just a day away."

He was sentenced to eight years in jail with seven years suspended and one year of home detention, he said. The judge also ordered him to go to counseling and not to drink, Shaffer said.

He wore an ankle bracelet, underwent weekly drug testing, and forfeited 20 percent of his weekly income for 12 months, he said.

He's now on two years of supervised probation, he said.

Shaffer said he has turned his life around through an 18-month counseling program at the Catoctin Counseling Center in Hagerstown.

He first had to admit that he had a problem, then he worked in a group setting and with a trained clinician to learn how to articulate his feelings in a positive way, Shaffer said.

He explored his upbringing, the reasons for his anger, and learned anger management techniques, he said.

"Without the counseling, I wouldn't have had the tools to rebuild myself," said Shaffer, who completed the program in October.

"I was very jealous - I still am - but I've learned through the program how to understand my emotions and manage my anger."

Shaffer called himself a gentle and kind person living under a mask of machismo.

It took several months for him to begin trusting others in his group counseling sessions, and 10 months before he started noticing changes within himself, Shaffer said.

Staying away from alcohol allowed him to "tear down his emotions," he said.

He used to feel only anger when someone hurt his feelings. Now Shaffer is learning to feel sadness, he said.

He's found faith in God, and he and his wife are learning to communicate, Shaffer said.

"I feel important now," he said. "I want to help other people see that there is light at the end of the tunnel because I lived in that tunnel for a long time."

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