Living in a gang can give you tunnel vision, making you think there's nothing else outside of the gang's rules and lifestyle. It can take a lot to wake someone up from that kind of nightmare, to bring them to back to the real world, and show them there's something besides crime, drugs, or murder. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but if these people can do it, maybe everyone can do it.

Reddit user, u/JadenM1101, wanted to know what was the breaking point when they asked:

[Serious] Former Gang Members, what incident happened that made you realize you didn't want to be in a gang anymore?

Following Your Role Model

My brother showed how to live that life. I was breaking up weed back when I was 10.... Funny thing is my brother taught me these things but after he caught a charge came out and straightened up. He met a woman, got a house,got married, and had my niece. I wasn't doing well in school at the time so I had to work my a-- off to graduate on time. I went to summer school every summer. Took two extra classes Monday thru Wednesday my sophomore year after school....

I don't regret us doing our dirt. We had to do what we had to do to stay afloat. But I would never want my kid, nieces, or nephews to ever be put in those situations.


Seeing How The Other Side Lives

Time away from the set with people that cared. (Family overseas). Long story short, went to my dads dirt poor village and saw how happy they were with nothing and how hard and backbreaking daily life was but if you didnt move you didnt eat kinda sh-t. Really made me rethink my life doing dumb sh-t. went back with the resolve to make it and feel im well on my way to doing it


Realizing You're Not Cut Out For That Life

Not really a gang, just a crew. 7 poor, misguided youth selling drugs and robbing dealers for food and fun money. We got drunk every weekend and went partying, then by the end of the night we were doing stupid sh-t like vandalism, and end up in someones house kicking the sh-t out of them and jacking their stuff, usually drugs and other sellables.

Some got into meth, others just wanted to try and be rappers and music producers, at that time my mom was diagnosed with cancer and i needed an income to pay some bills. I HAD to grow up quick, selling drugs and robbing dealers wasn't cutting it, and i ain't cut out for that life either.

I slowly started losing contact, hanging around less, quit heavy drinking, started roofing and i was out after i didn't talk to any of them for a bit. The one, my best friend who i grew up with, didn't take it too well and thought i was just a b-tch and whatnot.

I'm a b-tch, so be it.


Standing Until You Can't Stand No More

Throwaway since I don't want any connections to my main-account.

I was a "prospect" in a motorcycle-gang. Back in the days I somehow romanticized Sons Of Anarchy and found myself as a hangaround at the local chapter of a well known club. I was pretty passive, helped where I could and just tried to blend in as best as I could. After a few weeks I was seeing them as friends. They seemed like regular guys, the most of them had pretty decent jobs and were well educated, even thogh the parties tended to be rough, many people were beat up for fun and things like that.

A few months later I was proposed to be a prospect, got the leather and was the happiest guy. Things turned fast. Being more inside the club meant to know more. The guys you linked to hang around with were dealing with small firearms, nearly everyone was secretly on drugs - even though the club rules meant that you can get drunk but not high.

I stood with them, cause I still called them my buddies, until I was asked to steal electronics from a parked truck. Didn't want to end up in jail like my cousin, who got 3 years for stealing a simple radio. I denied and without a warning I got the beating of my life. They took away my jacket and said to repeat the beating if I'm ever coming back again.


Stand Up For Yourself

Got older and seemed stupid. Felt stupid representing a group of 7th grade dropouts. I wanted to represent myself. The ones that arent dead or in prison still live with their parents and all they have going for them in life is that red bandana


Understanding Where The Rhetoric Comes From

I got roped in to a skinhead gang in the late 90's because I grew up in a place where white people were a significant minority. We only made up about 15% of the population so it was a join or die situation because white loners were seen as targets hispanic gangs.

I got roped in by the rhetoric about white people sticking together and how everything was a threat to white people, etc. I left when I realized that we were doing the same sh-t as all the other gangs. Selling drugs to our own people, defending our territory while vandalizing it and treating it like sh-t, all while preaching about how we were defending the white race. I realized it was all bullsh-t from top to bottom.

The racism stuck with me for a few years afterward, that didn't go away until i joined the military and saw that dividing along racial lines was absolute horse sh-t and that the real threat were the rich men in suits trying to bleed us all dry.


Maybe Your Actions Aren't In Your Best Interests

A couple of three things. A) Got too old for that sh-t B) Joined the Army and C) realized - thankfully not too late - almost shooting a mother f-cker dead for "talking sh-t to my boy" wasnt in my best interests long term. I think back to that point and thank f-ck I did not do something so dumb. Cringy.


Training For Literal Street Fights

Brazilian here. I was a teenager in the mid-2000's. Used to hang with a lot of other kids who were also low-middle class and had a lot of time and liberty to be on the streets causing havoc. A lot of them were hooligans (in Brazil hooligans are really common in major cities with big football teams, but it's somewhat different from those in Europe.

People hang in the "torcidas organizadas", wear uniforms, sometimes carry guns and fight over petty sh-t with people from other "torcidas". The main goal is to beat and steal the other crews material's, like shirts, hats, flags and this kind of sh-t. Its not uncommon to see people die over this ridiculous nonsense). Anyway, it was a large gang, but no one did heavy stuff, like killing people (even though sometimes someone was packing a revolver or a pistol), at least I never heard of something like that. We used to beat the crap out of other people from other hoods, though.

Some of us were REALLY violent. A lot of my friends trained martial arts just for the sake of kicking people's a-- on the street. I stopped hanging around because some of my friends got arrested for attempted murder, and they just did'nt gave a single f-ck even after jail. Some of them also sold weed and I begun to wake up to the fact that sh-t was getting more serious. I had a lot of doubts befor, after seeing people get wrecked over nothing. Like, random street fights were common. I saw a couple of random dudes getting their heads stepped on, noses exploded, theeth broken, people threathening others with fireweapons.

I chose to focus on school, and years later I'm a lawyer with no criminal background, thankfully. My friends from that time are doing okay, I guess. They are alive, and I think thats a good thing, considering what they used to do and how many enemies they made. Im sorry if I made any grammar mistakes, Im brazilian and rarely write in english.


It's Easier Than You Think

Used to have a very serious drug problem, coupled with the fact I grew up in a rough hood, it was inevitable. Basically I needed protection and drugs. But like most people here are pointing out, eventually you just get too old for that sh-t. Kicked my drug habit several years ago, found an amazing girl and realized I didn't have to stay in such a dangerous spot.

We moved out to the mountains and aside from my police record and my ongoing struggle with addiction, I left those demons back in the city.

For real though, you can leave your hood so easily if you want to. Took me so long to realize that.


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