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. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Man Enough

In Nottinghamshire, England there is a multi-agency campaign called ‘Man Enough’ which I highly commend.  The target is for 10,000 men across the county of Nottinghamshire to sign up to the White Ribbon Campaign which is a National initiative.  Any movement to raise Domestic Violence is to be applauded.  The emphasis of this pledge is for men to sign up and acknowledge that male violence against women and children is to be condemned.  

The website does contain a link posing the question ‘What about violence against men?’ which is encouraging as there is some acknowledge that men can be victims of domestic abuse too.  If you click on the link you will read the following paragraphs as well as information for male victims:

We are also aware that the rates of violence against men has almost doubled since 2005. The BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast obtained figures from the Crowns Prosecution Service showing that almost 4,000 women were successfully prosecuted in the past year, compared with 1,500 women in 2005, a 169% increase.

However, we must remember that men, though, remain by far the main offenders, with the numbers convicted increasing from more than 28,000 in 2005 to just over 55,000 in 2010.

The last quoted sentence reads as if it has been included to remind everyone that while men can be victims, in reality men are the main offenders and the issue to be addressed is domestic violence against women perpetrated by men.  This view is further promoted when you pledge to the campaign.  As you make your pledge, you are encouraged to complete the following sentence:

I want to help end men’s violence against women because.....

My opinion is that all forms of Domestic Violence is wrong and needs addressing and I am fully convinced that the Gender bias in DV reporting needs challenging.  I did sign this pledge and left the following message:

I want to help end men's violence against women because all domestic violence is wrong INCLUDING that committed by women against men. 1 in 6 men are also a victim of partner abuse and 1 man every 17 days is killed by a partner/ex partner. As a male victim of DV, I'm seeking to raise awareness that men can be victims too. I have been blogging my story here: http://thesilenceofdomesticviolence.blogspot.co.uk/

What was being Man Enough mean?  It’s not just about being man enough to speak out against male violence towards women.  After I had experienced violent assaults on me by my ex-wife and her anger had subsided, I would challenge her about her unreasonable behaviour.  I would always receive one of two responses: either denial or the comment ‘you’re a man, you can cope with it’  Was that being Man Enough?  I have written elsewhere in this blog as to why I stayed.  Being Man Enough for me was protecting my children and trying to ensure that they  weren’t seriously affected by what they witnessed.  I would talk to them about what they had seen happen, explain to them that it wasn’t normal behaviour and that their mother had problems and didn’t recognise that she needed help.   

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.