Sunday, 25 November 2012

Not Alone

During my years of marriage and being on the receiving end of Domestic Abuse, I felt so alone.  No one ever spoke about domestic violence.  I had never heard anyone admit to either being a victim or perpetrator.  I never came across any Domestic Violence awareness publicity.  There was a silence  of immense proportions around Domestic Violence that implied it wasn’t an issue anywhere.  The inference I drew was that I was alone, very few people if any at all, would know what I was going through and have sufficient knowledge and experience to help.   

I felt that I could never confide in anyone for fear of ridicule.  In my experience, Domestic Violence is not about one partner exercising their superior physical strength, but rather about power and control driven by one partner’s insecurities.  Since speaking out and telling my story, I have heard the rare comment failing to understand how a strapping man can be abused by a physically weaker woman?  Most who have read or heard my story have grasped that Domestic Abuse runs deeper.  Responding to violent behaviour with retaliatory violent behaviour is never the solution.  With nowhere to  turn or no one that could understand, where could I turn?

And so, for years, I bottled up my emotions.  I put on a brave face.  I once told people I’d walked into a rose bush to explain the deep scratch marks on my face.  I absorbed all the insults and demeaning comments.  Nobody knew my inner anguish.   No one knew the pressure of trying to shield the children from their mother’s violent behaviour towards me that they witnessed.  I wasn’t totally silent.  Behind the closed door, I did speak up.  After she had burnt out her anger, I would question the events that had just occurred.  I would express my view that what had happened was not ‘normal’ behaviour and perhaps external help should be sought.   The answer was always either denial or “You’re a man, you can cope with it.”  

And so I kept my silence.  I was and I felt totally alone.  Ironically, many a time I would preach a message at church that contradicted this.  “You are not alone, God is with you in your suffering.” A favourite illustration I often used was that “the promise “You are not alone,” is found 366 times in the Bible, one for every day of the year including leap year.”   Such sermonizing may have pleased the congregation, but as I stood and preached that God was always with his people in their suffering and difficulties, my personal experience was that this God who Christians say is a God of love and loves even the worst ‘sinner’ had abandoned me and if he/she /it existed, had a very strange way of showing love to me. 

I can understand Domestic Abuse victims being drawn to this message that the Christian God is with them and I know that were someone to walk into my church and share that they were a victim, well-meaning church-goers would assure them of their prayers and that their God would be with them.  But is it enough?

That promise did not hold true for me.  The only time I haven’t felt alone is when I can talk openly with people who have some understanding around the issues of domestic abuse or have sadly experienced it themselves.  It pains me deeply that there is no or very little support for men and so I have formed  a support group especially for men affected by Domestic Violence.  You are not alone!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Gender Discrimination

This may appear to be a strange topic for @SiVictim to write about on The Silence of Domestic Violence Blog, but it’s an issue that I am becoming greatly concerned about.   I have written about the Gender Bias before, how statistics are used readily to promote the number of female DV victims thus suggesting male intimate partners as the perpetrators and yet the figures (which are readily available ) that highlight men are victims of DV too, are ignored. 

Friday 21st September was the International Day of Peace and in connection with this I organised a drop-in clinic at the local Children’s Centre entitled “Maintaining Peace in the Family and Home.”  This was in connection with my role at President of my Rotary Club whose international annual theme is “Peace through Service.”  As I took-up office, I said that I wanted to use my position to raise awareness to all issues surrounding Domestic Abuse.   As I saw it, planning such a clinic I could link in the concept of keeping and maintaining peace with raising awareness by offering ways and methods to avoid temper-loss etc during those stressful moments at home.   

I contacted local charities and organisations working within the DV field for additional input into the event.  The only support I received was from those who I’d had previous contact with and they knew of my mission.

The organisations that I hadn’t had the opportunity of contact prior to this,  were rather dismissive of a man wanting to raising awareness about DV.  I was even told not to go ahead with the event until I had purchased and attended one of their training courses!

While I was at the drop-in clinic, my partner telephoned me to let me know that the ‘This Morning’ TV programme was featuring male victims of Domestic Abuse.  This was because of an ongoing storyline in the TV soap opera “Coronation Street” where car mechanic Tyrone Dobbs is the victim of Domestic Violence.

I was able to watch the feature later in the day and was quite angered by the coverage.  Two women were interviewed, one admitted to violent behavior and the other lady worked for an organisation that ran programmes to help perpetrators (both male and female) understand and then stop their violent behaviour.  The presenters told the female abuser she was brave in publicly admitting her abuse.  My main issue was that this lady was full of excuses,  “I drank too much… I was so drunk, I didn’t realise how violent I was to my partner.  I’m not violent now because I control my drinking now.”


Watching the interview caused me greater anguish, because it seemed to suggest that there is more support and help available to female perpetrators of Domestic Violence, than there is for male victims.  This is wrong and needs addressing the sooner the better.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012


Fear becomes the over-riding factor when one feels trapped in an abusive relationship.  In the early stages of the relationship, fear didn’t exist.  I thought that there was trust and honesty.  When I met my ex-wife, I naturally assumed that everything she told me was the truth.  I believe now that she deliberately lied about certain events that would have led me to ask serious questions and discover her hidden character traits.  At the beginning of a new relationship, we don’t ask for confirmatory evidence.  We assume that we have been told the truth, unless we can clearly see through the lies.  If we uncover dishonesty, then invariably the relationship doesn’t continue.  My ex-wife has never been honest with herself, and I suspect that this is the reason why she can’t be honest with others.

The first time that I was exposed to her anger, I was shocked.  I’d not seen any behaviour like it leading up to that point.  I wasn’t fearful of her.  Although I was a victim to rather bizarre and unreasonable conduct, I made excuses for it.  However, there is NO excuse for Domestic Abuse in ANY form.   I accepted it initially because I thought that it was a one-off occurrence caused by stress and bereavement grief.  However, in my unconscious acceptance I allowed my ex-wife to continue abusing me and more extreme actions became part of daily living.  That’s when fear developed.

The first type of fear I recall experiencing was fear of being left alone with my ex-wife.  Her mood swings were so irrational and unpredictable that I dreaded going home after work.  Her aggression could be vented unprovoked.  However, in the presence of other people, she seemed calmer.  I would encourage family and friends to visit just because I feared those moments when we were on our own.  In those moments, nothing could placate her, I just learnt to let the anger burn itself out.  It was not a healthy way to live.

Although I thought that other people’s presence in the home brought some respite for me, I have now discovered as I have started sharing my experiences, that those family and friends that came dreaded doing so because of the things they witnessed my ex-wife say and do.   

As a male victim, I faced a bigger fear.  This was the fear of losing my children.  I felt I couldn’t leave the situation.  I couldn’t admit to what was happening at home.  I knew that society in large had no comprehension of men being victims of domestic abuse.  I had nowhere to go.  There wasn’t any place I could flee to with my children.  My children needed me and if I left, I had no way of providing any safety for them.  Again, in most broken relationships, the children stay with their mother.  And so, the fear of losing my children overweighed the fear of being left alone with her.

As the cycle of abuse continued through the years, I knew that I could not live in that relationship indefinitely.  I was then fearful of how people would respond to the end of the relationship.  Again, I put my children first trying to cushion them from the abuse inflicted on me that they saw and witnessed.  They would also be the ones most affected by the end of their parents’ marriage.   I was also fearful of losing all the security I had in my life.  By leaving the marriage, I would also lose my home and job.   I was then fearful about finding alternative employment.

Three years later, all fear has gone.  My life hasn’t the security it once had.  I can’t say that it has been easy.  It hasn’t but life is not a bed of roses.  Some of my fears proved well-founded.  

I lost my job and home.  I had nowhere to go or anywhere to work.  Some people struggle to accept that I was a victim of severe domestic abuse.  Some people I once considered friends have cut me off totally.  However, in adversity you discover who your true friends are and I certainly have.  My true friends have been very supportive and understanding of me and the journey I’m still on. 

And what of my main fear of losing my children?  My children now live with me and I’m immensely proud of the young people they’re growing to be.  As I’ve written, I’ve tried only to record the impact on my children when it’s relevant without disclosing too much detail.  They have their own stories that they may wish to tell one day.  That will be their decision.  I did everything I could so that I wouldn’t lose my children and so that I could keep them safe and as a result, we have a strong bond.  As a father, nothing else matters to me.  I now fear about my children’s future, but doesn’t every parent.  At least now, I know they have a good future.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Impact of DV on children

While the statistics surrounding reported cases of Domestic Violence are frightening enough,  perhaps even more concerning is that 90% of domestic abuse is seen or heard by children.  Witnessing such violent parental behaviour on a regular may sadly convince children that this is a normal pattern of family life and that this must be the way that they behave in when they themselves become parents. And so a cycle of abuse is repeated. 
In years gone by, when marital separation was scarce and divorce even rarer, couples stayed together for the ‘sake of the children.’  Today, thinking has changed.  If two adults are grossly unhappy in a relationship, surely it is unhealthy for children to be caught in the middle of all the arguments.  It is far better to have two independent happier parents than a warring couple.  Improvements in the welfare system may have also made this more possible and empowered families to be able to survive as lone parent families.
As a father and victim of domestic abuse, I knew that there was nowhere I could flee to with my children.   There are plenty of Women’s and children refuge places available – there are few, if any, for males in similar instances.  I therefore had to cope as best I could.  I never wanted to be an absent father.  I didn’t want my children to be in a position where their father disappeared at an early stage in their lives, and they consequently blamed themselves for what had happened because they were too young to understand what had happened.
I never believed my children were at risk from my ex’s temper.  Physically, she had never threatened any of them in the same way I was victimised.  Verbally, she would lose control and rant in a fashion that I would question to myself, just who the adult and who was the one was behaving in childish manner.  Most of what happened to me, my children witnessed.  They heard more than they should have and they saw things their young eyes should not have had to see.  As an abused partner, my priority was the safety of my children.  If I could absorb all of the anger outpouring, then the children would be safe and I would still be protecting them as a father should. 
After a violent episode, either physically or verbally on me, I would talk to the children trying to rationalising what they had just witnessed.  I would assure them that I was okay.  I would then explain to them that their mother was unwell but it was difficult to explain because their mum didn’t realise how ill she was and the best that we all could do was to try and keep calm, hopefully not causing any stress that would trigger an aggressive reaction.     Even at this point, it had an effect on the children.  It wasn’t just myself that became very cautious in what I did and said at home.  The children became very sensitive and fearful of upsetting their mother.  The slightest childhood misdemeanor would cause them great anguish because they did not want to face the verbal tirade from their mother. 
I’d convinced myself that I was protecting the children.  It was a long journey coming to the point where I knew I had to get out for my own survival.  Bit by bit, my reasoning for staying, was stripped away.  The biggest wake-up call I received was a couple of days after the children had witnessed two hot dinners being thrown over me.  I was in the kitchen clearing up after a family dinner when the youngest child came in and without any warning, threw the remainder of his dinner over me.  I was extremely angry with him and shouted at him, only to see a rather baffled expression looking back at me which then transformed into an upset look once he realised how distraught his actions had made me.  On reflection, I realised that all he was doing was reproducing what he’d seen his mother do a few days earlier.  Behaviour is learnt and the last thing I wanted was a cycle of abuse to continue in future generations. 
Very soon after this, I left the martial home never returning.  The full story is told elsewhere in this blog (    ).  I had nowhere to go, and absolute nothing.  I ended up sleeping on my parents’ sofa in their bungalow for nearly two months.  I couldn’t take the children because there was nowhere I could take them.  All I could do was make sure that they were safe and knew that I would always be there for them. 
I encouraged the children to find someone that they could talk to independently.   The school they attended was very helpful in this regard and understanding.    I continuously assured them that I was always there for them and they could always talk to me without reproach.  Their young lives had been so traumatic that I wanted any stability they had to remain.  That stability was their schooling. 
The impact of witnessing Domestic Abuse remains and will always remain with them.  As soon as I could, I found a house to rent as close to their school as possible.  While I was trying to rebuild my life, the children remained with their mother, but I was continuously in contact making sure everyone was safe.  The eldest child was often picked on by her mother verbally, but as the years went on, was more able to stand up for herself.  The middle child is a pacifier by nature, trying everything to keep the peace.  The youngest child was extremely upset (as were all three) when I didn’t return home, blaming himself for what had happened but I was quick to let him know that it wasn’t his fault and that I loved him.  Once I was able to build up from nothing, the children felt they could take no more of their mother’s mood swings and choose to live with me. 
The ongoing impact on them is that they want as little contact with their mother as possible.  I know how they feel as I felt the same way for years.  However, as I consider myself as a reasonable and responsible parent, I am encouraging them to build bridges with their mother, but only on their terms.  I can do no more.  Sometimes, children are more resilient than we think and I hope that by being honest with them about all that happened will minimise the long-term impact of them seeing and hearing Domestic abuse.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Divorce Proceedings

At first, both Sandra and I had remained in the Church.  I reasoned that if I filed for divorce for any other grounds other than two year separation with consent, it would impact the children and the only thing I wanted to do was protect the children.  For example, if at the point of separation, I filed for unreasonable behaviour, the church would have to take disciplinary action of some sort against Sandra which could result in the children being uprooted from the stability they had. 
Around this time the church brought out a new policy about Marriage Separation because senior leaders were concerned at how many marriage break-ups were occurring between ministers.  With no official ruling, many separated ministers were remaining in a state of limbo, neither appearing to be moving towards reconciliation or divorce.  I was called for an interview to discuss this new policy and the interviewer was rather surprised at the positive way in which I interpreted the regulation.  I stated that it gave me some encouragement because the church was officially recognizing that ministers marriages can break down rather than sweeping the issue under the carpet.   This policy stated that if a separated minister hadn’t either reconciled or divorced in two years, then they would be relinquished of their ministerial duties.
I then told the interviewer that I would file for divorce on grounds of two years separation with consent with that time period was due.  They seemed relieved that this was the course I’d decided on.  I have no idea whether they also interviewed Sandra or indeed if so, what her response was.
A few months later, my indiscretion came to light.  I resigned as a minister. The church’s senior leaders decided to revoke my church membership.  This meant I no longer had or felt any loyalty to the church.
I was homeless, jobless, had no income and I had no idea where my life would now go.  As far as I was now concerned, anything I said to the church about my future intentions regarding Divorce was now invalid.  Keeping or breaking their regulation was of no consequence to me now.  If Sandra wanted a Divorce to keep her church leaders happy, then she could file the petition.  It made no difference to me.  I was working and yet had no money left by the time I paid out all my commitments.  If Sandra wanted a Divorce, then as far as I was concerned she could take the necessary steps to get one.
I found another job and started work.  Whilst in work, the two year period came and went. Sandra had made no effect to petition for Divorce.  By the policies the church were so keen to enforce (when it suited them!), they should have dismissed Sandra. 
I then received the caution from the Police, and disclosure of this to my employers led to my dismissal.  I was now without work and any income.  For closure, I also wanted some form of acknowledgement from Sandra, accepting the abuse she inflicted on me.
I was now eligible for Legal Aid, and so I saw a Solicitor and decided to file for divorce on grounds of Unreasonable Behaviour.  This way, I felt, I would get some form of admission from Sandra about her crimes against me.
I listed numerous instances of Unreasonable Behaviour and the petition was filed.  Sandra was given fourteen days to respond.  Interestingly, she didn’t deny the unreasonable behaviour.  However, her Solicitor advised that they should counter-petition on grounds of my unreasonable behaviour! 
My Solicitor felt that this was a bluff, but because I was using Legal Aid to pay for the costs, the divorce proceedings had to be carried out in the most economic manner.  I could contest their counter-petition but not on Legal Aid.  As I had no money available to do this, the Solicitor’s advice was to change my petition to two years separation with consent.
I later discovered that my unreasonable behaviour was kicking Sandra in my sleep!  Hardly possible, since most nights I ended up either sleeping on the floor or curled up in the fetal position as far to the edge of the bed as possible.  Kicking her would have been a physical impossibility!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Grounds for Divorce

After the separation between Sandra and myself, I looked into the criteria for divorce.  This I guess is something that no-one getting married feels that they will ever face.  However, statistics show that more marriages now end in divorce.  Despite that, I wasn’t conditioned to seek divorce after all the vows I made were ‘till death us do part.’  Glibly I could say that the marriage had died or the death of  love in the relationship had occurred but I knew that was not what the scribes who had penned the legal marriage ceremony had in mind.

What are Grounds for Divorce?

In England and Wales, you can only divorce if you have been married for at least one year.

To divorce in Scotland, you, or your spouse, must have lived in Scotland for the year preceding the divorce, or you must consider Scotland as your principal place of residence.

There is only one basic ground for divorce: the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. You can prove irretrievable breakdown by establishing one or more of the following 'facts' for divorce:

Fact A. Adultery

You must prove that, either through actual admission or through sufficient circumstantial evidence, your spouse has had sexual intercourse with another person of the opposite sex and that you find it intolerable to live with your spouse. If a sexual liaison short of sexual intercourse has taken place, it's suggested that the unreasonable behaviour ground is used.

In England & Wales, you can name the other person involved as a co-respondent but this isn't essential and can have serious consequences. Doing so can make the divorce proceedings more acrimonious, more complicated and more drawn out. It's, therefore, usually best to avoid naming a co-respondent. If you wish to name the other person in your divorce proceedings, it's best that you take legal advice before doing so. In Scotland, you must name the other person involved.

Adultery can be used as the basis for a divorce petition, whether you and your spouse are still living together or there has been a separation, but, in either case, not more than six months must have elapsed since you became aware of the adultery before the divorce petition is sent to the court.

Fact B. Unreasonable behaviour

You must show that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them. Unreasonable behaviour is now the most common fact on which to prove the ground for divorce in England and Wales. In an unreasonable behaviour divorce petition, the 'petitioner' (the person who starts the divorce proceedings) sets out a number of allegations against the 'respondent' (the person who receives the divorce petition).

These allegations might include references to excessive drinking or financial extravagance, for example; but it's worth bearing in mind that the court doesn't insist on really severe allegations of unreasonable behaviour in order to grant a divorce. Relatively mild allegations, such as devoting too much time to a career, having no common interests or pursuing a separate social life may well suffice. Using mild allegations may also make it easier to agree a divorce petition with your spouse in advance.

Fact C. Desertion

Where your spouse deserted you without your consent for a continuous period of at least two years; this fact is almost never used. This ground of divorce has recently been abolished in Scotland.

Fact D. 2-year separation (England & Wales) / 1-year separation (Scotland)

By consent you and your spouse have been living apart for at least two years in England and Wales, or one year in Scotland, immediately preceding the presentation of the petition (or ‘Initial Writ’ in Scotland) and you both agree to a divorce.

Fact E. 5-year separation (England & Wales) / 2-year separation (Scotland)

You and your spouse have been living apart for at least five years in England and Wales, or two years in Scotland, immediately preceding the presentation of the petition (or ‘Initial Writ’ in Scotland). In this instance, your spouse doesn't need to consent to the divorce.

Monday, 30 July 2012


All good relationships are built on trust. When the trust goes, the relationship is often damaged.  When we enter into a new relationship, one can often bring their past emotional experiences into that relationship.  If trust issues were a problem in the past, one could find it hard learning to trust again in a new relationship.  Jealously may then rear its ugly head and prove to be destructive.

I wasn’t aware of any such issues when courting Sandra.  Maybe I didn’t notice them, but as soon as the ring was on her finger the green-eyed monster surfaced.

The first episode I recall was the destruction of my aftershave collection.  I never received an explanation as to why she felt she wanted or had to pour bottles of expensive aftershave down the sink.  I’ve thought about it since and all I can think of was that her thought process was such that she thought if I wasn’t wearing aftershave, I won’t attract other women. 

Sandra also took exception to me talking to friends.  Initially, these were female friends.  During our courtship, I was at College and mixed with all other students.  However, once we were married if Sandra so much as saw me pass a brief comment to a friend she would verbally attack me wanting to know exactly what I had said.

This type of behaviour would also be true of any church activity I undertook solo.  For example, I would have to chair regular church council meetings.  When I would return home, Sandra would demand to know what was discussed.  If one is familiar with such meetings, there is a lot of ‘debate’ before decisions are made or viewpoints are reached and so I would summarise the meeting for Sandra’s benefit.  Her response would always be, “You’re been gone over two hours, there MUST have been more said.”

The extended family were also drawn into this behaviour.  Visits to family members would be arranged.  Just before we were due to set off on our visitation journey, Sandra would launch into a tirade, making personal insults about the person we would soon be visiting.   And yet, on arrival, Sandra would be sweetness personified in the home of the relative while myself (and the children) would be very subdued because of the anguish of our journey there.

With hindsight, I can now see that Sandra was jealous of all relationships I held with other people: family, friends, work acquaintances.  I ended up withdrawing from these relationships to try and keep the peace at home.

However, there was seldom peace at home.  Such ill-founded jealously led to other patterns of behaviour such as Sandra’s violent outbursts against me.  Beware such jealous tendencies in a relationship as it may lead to physical assault.

Saturday, 28 July 2012


The issue of honesty has been weighing heavily on my mind. I have tried to be completely honest about all my experiences but feel I have suffered for it and on reflection, wonder if I have been too honest. I have gone from being silent and falling into deceit to being honest and open about all I have done and gone through.
It might seem strange to admit, but the church inadvertently encouraged dishonesty. This is not the official statement of the church and might seem to be a controversial statement. Let me expand. When prospective minsters were being trained by the church for future ministry, the church’s college liked to emphasis the careers that their students had given up in order to become a minister. In a lot of instances, the truth was stretched so that church members would be impressed by the calibre of new minsters. For example, someone working in a non-trained hospital role might be introduced as a former nurse. I fell outside of this category for the college authorities had little perception of the industry I left behind. In the spirit of humility that I believed all Christians should have, I played down my business achievements. So much so that on one occasion I was summoned for an interview with the College’s Principal. The reason for this was that he had spent the previous evening at a dinner party with a former business associate of mine and at some point of the evening I became the subject of conversion. The College Principal had me described to him as a dynamic, well-acclaimed professional and struggled to recognise me because of the humble persona I seemed to have in the classroom.

The philosophy taught in the classroom was that as congregations expected their ministers to be available every minute of every day, new ministers were to maintain that illusion. Many ministers end up believing they are infallible. Over the years I have heard many ministers lie and create a plausible excuse rather than admit they either haven’t had time yet or had forgotten about whatever was being asked of them.

The illusion continue especially on Sundays when I would stand up before the congregation as the man giving advice on the best Christian way to live addressing all sorts of issues from the pulpit, putting a biblical spin on them.   i'm always wary personally of biblical 'spin', it's more a case of one saying "this is what I want you to think the Bible says.." I used to hate hearing people state quite boldly, "The Bible says...."   because people could and would use scripture completely out of context in order to re-enforce their own personal view.  On a Sunday I entered the pulpit portraying the perfect marriage and family life encouraging others to follow my example.  If only they knew the real truth! 

As a victim of Domestic Violence, the truth of the situation is too horrific to admit for a long period. The scratch marks on my face were because I’d walked into a rose bush, not because I had been attacked by my wife. Everyone, I’m sure has answered ‘I’m fine’ when being asked ‘How are you?’ and realistically you were anything but fine! Telling a lie sometimes, whether big or small, is part of our personal self-defence strategy.

When I was first questioned about my financial misconduct, I know that I was lied to. My bishop told me that because of the sensitive nature of enquires only two people locally knew at that point about the questions being asked of me. That was not correct, however the church may rationalize this falsehood by saying the end justified the means.

The Church trades on guilt.  Churchgoers are told that they are guilty sinners because no one human is perfect.  Part of most churches services is a call to publicly seek forgiveness of such sins.  Churchgoers are also taught such an unrealistic ideal of 'holy' living that they naturally fall short of this 'standard' and need to publicly confess their sins.  Perhaps if the Church didn't encourage dishonesty in the first place, then there would be no need for confession resulting from guilty feelings!
I have always been proud of my attendance of work record. In thirty years of employment, I have only had five days off ill. That was at the age of seventeen when I contracted chicken pox. As soon as I received the police caution and declared it to my then employers, I was sent home on ‘garden leave’ with the rest of the staff being told I was sent home ill. They knew that this was a management falsehood because I was never off sick.

Being ill seems to have been a convenient excuse within that organisation. While I was on garden leave, a service lead and manager had asked to see me about providing me with possible work. I was told that they would be open-minded and acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes. An hour before we were scheduled to meet, the service lead telephoned me to cancel citing that the manager was off sick and they would be in touch later. As that was the last conversation we had, I can only assume that the real reason the meeting was cancelled was because Human Resources black-listed me.

It is only recently that I can be totally honest about the Domestic Violence I experienced. I have tried to be honest about all that has happened to me, about the out of character way in which I finally reacted. It saddens me that in response, people (organisations) have been less than honest with me.
Currently, I find that being totally honest doesn'y endear me to possible employers.  I lost my last job because I declared my caution as soon as I'd received it.  If I had kept quiet and not said anything, I would still be in their employ.  I didn't make any false declarations during the recruitment process.  At some point when a disclosure renewal was due, I would have had to face some questions from management which may have resulted in dismissal, but they dismissed me anyway for being upfront with them.  Now in applying for jobs I either have to make a disclosure or explain why I left my last job.  That's honesty for you!  I would rather be honest with myself now for it took me 20 years to reach this point.

For any victim of Domestic Violence, the biggest step you can take is being honest with yourself about what has happened. From there, it could be a long and sometimes painful journey forward.

People may hurt you and not be honest with you. There’s nothing you can do about that. All you can do is take one step at a time and keep speaking out your truth.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


When I first commenced this blog, I introduced myself as the Silent Victim adopting the non de plume of Si Victim.  The subject of silence and the way it affects victims of domestic abuse has been occupying my thoughts.  All victims, both male and female, initially remain silent.  Very rarely does one speak out or report the first instance of domestic violence.  Why is this?  I guess it’s usually because the perpetrator vows that it was an accident and will never happen again.  Months may pass without any incident and then the anger returns once more.  A descent into a cycle of abuse follows.  The victim remains silent; silent because they love their partner, silent because they share a life and family together, silent because of the expectations of society they feel, silent because they fear that no-one will believe them because their partner is well-respected, silent because they believe their partner will change and stop, silence to protect children, silent because it must be my fault for angering my partner, silent because no-one else is abused and silent because no-one wants to hear the truth.

The silence begins to take many forms, it evolves into deceit.  Visible bruises/scratches are due to being clumsy rather than being assaulted. “ I walked into a door” and its variants have become a well-established code for my partner did this, but because the victim can’t admit to being assaulted the person hearing the deceitful and protective excuses decides not to pursue their enquiry.

Unable to talk or share the domestic abuse, one’s own self-esteem suffers.  Fearing of saying the wrong thing in the home environment, the victim retreats into silence.  Not wanting to ignite their partner’s anger, the victim withdraws into themselves and only answers their partner in response.  Even then, the wrong answer could trigger abuse.  So the victim further distances themselves maybe even retreating into another room and keeping totally apart from their partner.

My silence took many forms.  I would withdraw from conversation with Sandra for fear of saying the wrong thing and triggering a violent reaction.  This evolved into making every excuse not to be in the same room as her.  When we travelled out in the car, every journey was in silence.  No matter what volume the car stereo was set at, it was always to loud for Sandra.  It always resulted in the stereo being turned off because no-one could actually hear it.  Sandra would shout aggresively then if someone knocked on the door of the house would suddenly become silent and pretend no-one was home.

I was silent to everyone, my family, friends, peers  Being silent turns into deceit and lies.  I couldn't speak up to anyone for a long, long time.  I'd rather mask my situation and tell lies that covered up the truth.  I had a public persona of a God-fearing, honest church minister but I was a fraud.  My whole life was one big deceit.
The silent treatment then begins to affect all aspects of the victims health: emotional, physical & mental.  The victim may then make a psychological cry for help that may or may not be heard. 

It takes a momentous journey to find your voice and speak out. It’s not an easy journey for many of the stigmas surrounding Domestic Abuse still exist.  However, it is a worthwhile journey.  Speaking out not only empowers you, but also empowers and encourages other victims to speak out.  You have a voice because you are not alone in your suffering, and you are not alone in your recovery.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Appeal Aftermath

After some general advice and information, it’s time once more to pick up my story. I had been waiting for the official notification of my appeal.  Within ten days of the appeal being held, I should have received the written decision.  Everyday I waited for the mail to be delivered.  Nothing arrived.  There is a maxim that says ‘no news is good news.’  It didn’t apply in this instance.  Realistically, I wasn’t expecting a reversal of the judgment that had resulted in my dismissal.  Idealistically I had hoped for some understanding into the stigma of being a male victim of Domestic Violence and the impact it had on my mental health particularly as I was working within the Mental health care field. 

I used this time to reflect on my brief career in social care.  The majority of workers in this industry are female with very few male members of staff in any care organisation.  I was initially told that I would be in constant demand for work as good male workers were a rare commodity and greatly needed.  This proved to be my experience and I received praise for the way in which I worked.  I found that my co-workers were all fully committed and worked hard and efficiently to ensure that the best possible service was offered to clients.     However, management were often more cynical towards clients and workers.  With hindsight, I feel that some of my interactions with my managers (who all happened to be female) may have also coloured their judgement. 

I had only been in the job for seven weeks when a vacancy within the organisation was advertised.  This post was at a higher grade, located in the town where I lived rather than fifty miles from home, more conventional working hours and I had the qualifications required.  I informed my line manager that I would be applying, not because I was unhappy with my current role, but because it was an opportunity too good to miss.  My line manager responded that she would do the same if she was in my position.  However, the funding for this post hadn’t been properly secure and recruitment was postponed.  The job I had involved a huge amount of travelling and mileage expenses could be claimed back from the organisation.  I had submitted my expenses for authorisation and was rather upset to discover three weeks later that my line manager hadn’t yet dealt with them.  I spoke privately to my line manager and received a poor excuse as to why they hadn’t been submitted. Having been in management myself, I recognised managerial claptrap and would have preferred the truth.  It transpired that all team members had outstanding expense claims that were awaiting reimbursement.  Christmas was approaching and all staff were unhappy as the delay was affecting Christmas budgeting.  I subsequently raised this issue at the next team meeting where I was supported by my shift colleague.  The service lead responded that it was up to her when she submitted the claims, with no acknowledgement that the problem had arose because she’d forgotten about them in the first place.

The service I worked with was an ‘out of hours’ service that overlapped some regular ‘nine to five’ services within the organisation.  Without going into great detail, I discovered that the organisation had been paying the telephone bill of a Client for over eighteen months.  When I came across this, I spoke to the line manager of the department responsible who was adamant that the transfer of responsibility for the telephone line over to the client had taken place correctly.  I went away and collected the necessary information, returning to the manager who then looked at it with her line manager and realised that I was right. 

Prior to my probation review which led to my release, two supervision sessions had been held between my line manager and myself.   Following these sessions, company policy was that we both sign a copy of the supervision notes and that I was given a copy.  The first time I saw these was at my probation review when I was presented with both sets to sign.  I never received a copy of these documents.

A month after the appeal, I still hadn’t received notice of the appeal’s decision.   I wrote to the CEO of the organisation explaining the situation and that I was still waiting for the result.  He responded immediately to say that he had asked the regional headquarters to investigate.  Another month passed without any word so once more I contacted the CEO.  It transpired that the wrong regional office had been asked to investigate.  The CEO apologised for the bad working practise of the organisation and also said that I would receive a personal apology and explanation from the regional manager.  The regional manager’s letter contained an apology stating that although the letter had been written immediately following the appeal, due to an administration error it wasn’t mailed out to me.  The original letter was also included and stated that attached to it were the minutes of the appeal.  The minutes were not included.  I contacted the regional manager once more to say that I still hadn’t received my copy of the supervision interviews and that the minutes of the appeal hadn’t been included despite it being stated that they were.  I finally received all documentation a week later.  This now meant closure for me, I could move on from the feelings I had felt about the poor handling of my situation by this organisation.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Invisible Domestic Violence

Today, I also came across the following article which appeared in the Guardian Newspaper on 7th June 2011 which makes a similar viewpoint to the one I’m expounding:



The invisible domestic violence – against men | Nicola Graham-Kevan

Tuesday 7 June 2011

More women are being convicted of domestic violence, but discovering the true number of male victims is a complex affair

That women accounted for 7% of all convictions for domestic violence last year will come as a surprise to many. But what is not clear is whether the growing numbers of women convicted – a 150% increase in five years – represents a rise in actual cases of female-perpetrated domestic violence.

Domestic violence has traditionally been understood as a crime perpetrated by domineering men against defenceless women. Research spanning over 40 years has, however, consistently found that men and women self-report perpetrating domestic violence at similar rates. Professor John Archer from the University of Central Lancashire has conducted a number of meta-analytic reviews of these studies and found that women are as likely to use domestic violence as men, but women are twice as likely as men to be injured or killed during a domestic assault. Men still represent a substantial proportion of people who are assaulted, injured or killed by an intimate partner (50%, 30% and 25% respectively).

If the empirical research is correct in suggesting that between a quarter and half of all domestic violence victims are men, a question follows: why has women's domestic violence towards men been unreported for so long, and what has changed in the last five years to make it more visible?

One reason may be the feminist movement. Feminism took up the cause of domestic abuse of women in the 1970s, with the world's first women's refuge being opened by Erin Pizzey in 1971. Feminism understood domestic violence as the natural extension of men's patriarchal attitudes towards women, leading men to feel they had the right to control their partners, using violence if necessary. Feminists campaigned successfully to bring the issue into the public arena, thereby securing resources to establish services to help victims. This activism and advocacy led to governmental and public acceptance that "domestic violence" was synonymous with violence against women.

Paradoxically, feminist concerns for female victims may also have led to the recent increase in arrests of female perpetrators. The disparity between prevalence study statistics and criminal conviction data of male domestic violence perpetration led US feminists to successfully campaign for mandatory arrest policies for domestic violence call-outs. Mandatory arrest policies coincided with a three-fold increase in the number of women arrested. In the UK, a pro-arrest policy was also introduced, requiring police forces to always consider an arrest in domestic violence cases. Although not eliminating police discretion, the policy undoubtedly diminished individual police officers' discretionary powers. The increase in female arrests for domestic violence suggests that when police officers were freer to exercise discretion, it was exercised more frequently in favour of female perpetrators.

Support for a feminist conceptualisation of domestic violence has been afforded by men's generally more visible violent behaviour. Men make up the majority of perpetrators of violence in public places, such as football matches and nightclubs. As men appear to be more ready, willing and able to use violence outside the home, the logical extension is that men are more violent than women per se. This argument has frequently been cited by researchers such as Professors Russell and Emerson Dobash as evidence against the veracity of figures showing large numbers of male victims of domestic violence, while ignoring the fact that men's aggression in public places is almost always directed towards other men.

In recent years, female violence has become a more public affair, with changes in drinking patterns being a likely contributing factor to more women being arrested for violent offences outside of the home. In addition, the widespread use of CCTV may have provided sufficient evidence for the police and CPS to override stereotypes of women as nonviolent. The erosion of the passive female stereotype is likely to result in more women being charged and convicted of offences generally, which might also result in increases in the conviction rates for women's domestic violence.

The dual stereotypes of the violent man and passive woman have undoubtedly obscured the existence of male victims of domestic violence in the past. Men were also unlikely to view their own victimisation as either domestic violence or a criminal assault, and so were unlikely to seek help.

Large sums of money have been spent on educational campaigns to encourage female victims to seek help. Until there are similar campaigns for men, it is unlikely that the true number of male victims needing help will be known. If the current trends continue however, women may find themselves increasingly likely to be charged with domestic assault, and men more likely to be offered help and protection.


Domestic Violence awareness campaigns are greatly needed and are to be encouraged.  However, I long for the day when they lose the gender bias in reporting.  All domestic abuse is wrong irrespective of the gender of the perpetrator or victim.