Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Even More Gender-Biased approaches

There recently appeared in a national Christian magazine an article on Domestic Violence.    I was pleased to see this issue being raised however, I was rather concerned with way in which some statistical data was presented as it implied that all DV perpetrators are men and that very few men experience domestic abuse themselves.  I did challenge this with both the author and the magazine’s editor and presented the real evidence arguing that Domestic Violence is not a Gender-specified  crime.  The editor informed me that they would use my feedback.  To date as far as I’m aware, nothing has appeared.

Last week, my regional newspaper reported on a fund-raising event held by a local Domestic Violence charity.   This charity’s target audience is women and children only.  Their website pays a token acknowledge to male victims, but the main emphasis is offering services to women and children.  They offer ‘training’ too using the Freedom programme.  If you’re unsure what the Freedom programme consists of , this is the explanation of what you can except:

The Freedom Programme is for any woman who wishes to learn more about the reality of domestic violence and abuse.
The aims of the Freedom Programme are:
 To help women understand the beliefs held by abusive men and in so doing, recognise which of these beliefs they have shared
 To illustrate the effects of domestic violence on children
 To assist women to recognise potential future abusers
To help women gain self-esteem and the confidence to improve the quality of their lives
To introduce women to community resources such as Women’s Aid, the Police Domestic Violence Unit, The Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, local Colleges etc.

Hardly, a Gender-Neutral approach to Domestic Violence then!!!

What concerned me about the report was mention that this local charity is responsible for training 4,000 police and professionals a year in the Nottinghamshire area.  Being trained in such a biased manner can not be good for Domestic Violence prevention and restorative services.  I posted an online comment making such a point.  I also addressed my viewpoint to the Letters page, which strangely wasn’t published. 
I decided too, to take up this issue with the local Police Commissioner.  This is what I expressed:

Dear Mr *****,
I was deeply concerned to read that XXXXXXXXX  are responsible for training 4,000 police officers and professionals a year to spot and help prevent domestic abuse in 25th November 2013 edition of the XXXXXXXX.   XXXXXXXX  are a gender-specific charity and offer a biased approach to domestic abuse prevention.  Little wonder that the problem of domestic abuse is spiralling out of control when inappropriate training is being given.
Equation does not address the fact that 1 in 6 men will also experience domestic violence and that 60% of domestic violence incidents are mutual with the female partner being the greater aggressor.
Domestic violence is a complex issue and the training given should be more representative of a Gender-neutral approach. 
Yours sincerely,

I received the following reply:

One of my key objectives is to protect, support and respond to victims, witnesses and vulnerable people, without favour to either gender.
I do fully appreciate that domestic abuse is not confined to women being abused by male partners, although it is a fact that one in four women will be a victim of domestic abuse at some point in their lives. 
But no-one should be a victim of domestic abuse and we are all working with partners to both reduce reoffending and offer support to those at risk of this type of behaviour.

I subsequently replied:

It is also a fact that 1 in 6 men will be a victim of domestic abuse at some point in their lives and this is not being addressed because many of the agencies involved refuse to acknowledge this, casting men as batterers and women as victims.  There has been research available for the last 40 years to reinforce this truth.  I am in contact with leading global academic researchers (who all happen to be female) who are continuing fighting to improve DV services and get the message out that DV isn’t the gender issue its portrayed as being.  I'd love to help our county move away from the Patriarchy influence that inhibits its services and would be willing to discuss this at greater length with you and/or your team.  Best regards,

The next day, a news story broke where a famous female TV presenter was charged and received a police caution for common assault on her husband.  By accepting a police caution, one admits their guilt.  Strangely enough, the story has appeared in the media with little other comment.   This gave me one last chance to try and get the message across to the Police Comissioner:

Just to give credence to my last post, I'm sure that its not escaped your notice that XXXXXX. the TV presenter has just been charged with common assault against her husband.   I would restate that the work going on with your partners is gender-biased and far from the real picture.

Then today, I was greeted with more gender-biased coverage:

Services to help female victims of domestic violence are at "breaking point" because of "shocking gaps" in funding, Women's Aid has warned.

With a name like Women’s Aid, you expect them to be Gender-biased.  However, there are many including myself who believe that Domestic Violence services should never have been about gender but has highjacked by Misandrists who saw an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon  and receive uncontested funding for a whole range of services for women only.

My first reaction was well at least there are services for women and children in the first place.  Very little funding has ever been made available  for services for men. 
And then, the Statistics used to justify the services were given by Women’s Aid CEO,

Women's Aid chief executive Polly Neate said: "Specialist gender-specific domestic violence services are reaching a breaking point.
"Over 1.2 million women were estimated to have experienced domestic violence last year and two women a week are killed by perpetrators."

No mention of the 800,000 men experiencing domestic violence.  The estimation is also that one women every four days is killed, but this has evolved into two women a week.  Last thing I knew was that a week had  seven days, not eight days in it.  A slight distortion that no-one challenges.  One women every four days is still one too many..  No mention, mind you, of the one man every seventeen days killed by a partner either. 
Domestic Violence is not a Gender-Specific crime and should not be treated as such.  However, such biased shown often results with men feeling that they have nowhere to go to seek help.  Without any hope, alienated from family and children, many men end up taking their own lives.

The one gender-specific issue that is never addressed is suicide.  Very few woman commit suicide. Tragically, in the UK, the figures have been quite consistent over the last few years.   4,500 men take their own lives a year.  That equates to  375 men a month or 86 a week or , to break it down even further, 12 men a day kill themselves. 

And yet, very little is being done to change this shocking fact that is happening in our communities.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Male Victim Event Day at University of Central Lancashire

It was a real privilege to be asked to speak at the recent Male Victim Event Day organised by the University of Central Lancashire  (Preston, UK) and I was thrilled to be included alongside people who are making a real global difference in changing public perception about Domestic Violence.”
The keynote speaker was Dr Denise Hines of  Clark University, Massachusetts.   Dr Hines is the Principal Investigator on a series of studies investigating the physical and mental health of men who sustain partner violence from their female partners and seek help. The most recent of these studies also investigates the mental and physical health of child witnesses and is being supported by a grant from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (USA).  About two years ago, I discovered the work of Dr. Hines, emailed her and she kindly put me in touch with some UK academics who were involved with her in an international research project.  It was though the follow-up contact with Dr Louise Dixon and Dr. Niki Graham-Kevan that I was invited to speak. 
Another speaker was Ian McNicholl whose ex-girlfriend was imprisoned for seven years for grievous bodily harm for the injuries she inflicted on Mr McNicholl.  Ian McNicholl  was involved  in the development of the Coronation Street storyline featuring Tyrone Dobbs and gave the soap a great insight into male victims of domestic violence.  Again, the Coronation Street storyline has brought great help to many people and I was honoured to stand alongside both Dr Hines and Ian McNicholl.
Also on the schedule of speakers were: Margaret Gardner (Director of False Allegations Support Organisation), Valerie Wise (Chief Executive Preston Domestic Violence Services)  and Nick Smithers ( National Development Officer Abused Men in Scotland)

Attached Photograph.  L-R Ian Young, Margaret Gardner (Director of False Allegations Support Organisation), Valerie Wise (Chief Executive Preston Domestic Violence Services), Dr Niki Graham-Kevan ( Reader, University of Central Lancashire), Ian McNicholl (ManKind Initiative Patron), Nick Smithers ( National Development Officer Abused Men in Scotland) and Dr Denise Hines.
This is a transcription of my speech
I’m a survivor of female perpetrated Domestic Abuse which has severely impacted me and my children.  It took place during the course of my marriage which lasted 17 years.  Today would have been my 21st wedding anniversary.  While it was happening, I felt that I had nowhere to turn nor could I speak to anyone about it.  I felt so alone.  It affected every area of my well-being.  When I finally was able to come out of the marriage, it was at great personal cost.  As part of my own healing, I began writing and blogging about my experience and was overwhelmed by others contacting me to say that they were in similar situations and felt so isolated.  This motivated me to campaign to raise greater awareness about Domestic Violence and how it affects men in particular. 

How the abuse started
1992 was a momentous year for me.  I got ordained as a church minister and six months after ordination, I got married.  Just before our wedding, my ex-wifes mother died,  Her  Father had died when she was 7.  She never spoke about her childhood.  There were a few things she told me that were lies, and had I known that then, it might have changed  the course of our relationship. However, I was in an environment where you believed or wanted to believe everything was true.
I saw no  worrying behavioural traits when we were courting, but once we married things changed.  The first strange thing I remember was an over-reaction to me pouring a glass of cola.  I hadn’t rinsed the glass properly, and soap suds were still in the glass causing the cola to fizz up uncontrollable.  She started shouting uncontrollably at me, calling me names and all sorts.  I remember thinking , what’s your problem its only a drink.  On its own, that probably sounds silly but other  patterns started to emerge.   Prior to going into the ministry, I worked in the city of London in the banking sector and the one luxury I allowed myself was having an expensive aftershave collection.  One day, without any provocation,  she poured all my aftershaves down the sink.  She also began smashing ornaments of sentiment value and something that she would repeat for years, she would pour cups of hot drinks I made over me and would  smash a dinner plate (with the dinner still on it ) over my head.

The excuses I made
My ex-wife wouldn’t seek any sort of help.  She wouldn’t even take a headache pill.  I’m not sure whether she even recognised she had a problem.  In my mind, I made excuses for her.  I told myself that she was grieving and this was her way of coping.  I didn’t recognise what was happening to me as Domestic Abuse.  I equated it with the ‘worst’ part of the ‘for better for worst, in sickness and in health’ wedding vows I made.  And then the children arrived, our first daughter was born in 1995, our second daughter in 1997 and our son in 1999.  Her violent behaviour continued towards me.   As well as making excuses about the bereavement, I added Post natal depression to my rationale .  In 2000, my ex-wife only sister died quite suddenly and this left her with no immediate family.   Around this period of time, I recall overhearing my bishop ( who was the person I should to with any problems) joking with a colleague about another couple where the wife was quite a dominant character and the husband appeared hen-packed.  Again, I remember thinking ‘There’s no way I can come to you and speak about the abuse I was experiencing because you clearly have no understanding and would treat it as a joke.’  Around this time, was the only time my ex-wife inflicted me  injuries that were visible.   I can’t remember the how, but I ended up with 2 long scratch marks on my face where the skin had been broken.  People probably knew that that’s what they were but no-one said anything.  I was asked what had happened, and I told people that I’d walked into a rose bush.  I also learnt that while my ex-wife was in an aggressive mood, there was nothing I could do that would placate it.  I never once retaliated.   In the early days, I would try and argue back but this just further ignited her anger.  And so, I just absorbed it and waited until her anger had burnt out.  Once it did and she was calm, I would try and challenge her behaviour saying that it was completely unreasonable.  I always got one of two responses:  either denial to what had just happen or she’d say, “you’re a man, you can cope with it.”  The children witnessed much of this, and afterwards I would also say to the children, “Your mum’s not well, but she doesn’t realise how ill she is, we all just have to try harder to help her.”

Why did I stay
So why did I stay?  First of all, I took my marriage vows seriously.   I was in a culture where divorce was frowned upon  and it would also become hard for me to remain a minister as a divorcee.  At that point in time, the church was my life’s vocation.  And then the children arrived.  The thought of being separated from my children was my biggest fear .  My ex-wife never showed any physical aggression towards the children, although she was very verbally aggressive toward our eldest daughter in particular.  While I was there, I felt that I was also protecting the children.  I felt I could leave.   No one would help me even if I said that I was a victim of DV.  I was unaware of any refuges for men – I was even unaware that men could be victims of DV, how could I explain that to anyone.  I also had nowhere to go nor any means of starting again.  My salary as a church minister wasn’t great and the house I lived in belonged to the church.  She also wanted a lifestyle that we couldn’t really afford.  But appeasing her and trying to avoid anything that might lead to an explosion  was all I was bothered about.   And so, to that end, I over claimed on my expenses from the church to pay for the treats she wanted. 

The realisation
In 2009, I was reaching breaking point and I started keeping a journal of the abuse I was experiencing.  As well as the current stuff, I wrote down the abuse that I could remember.  It shocked me as I read it back as I realised that there was a lot of stuff that had occurred that I’d forgotten.  It also hit me that my account sounded so horrific it was hard to believe, and yet it was my reality.  I’d run out of making excuses and was in a poor state, mentally , physically and emotionally.  There was also an incident with my son who was then 9 years old that helped me realise I was kidding myself.  There been another violent episode  during the week where two dinner plates (containing fish and chips) had been smashed over my head .  This happened in front of the children.  On the Sunday, after our meal, I was in the Kitchen washing the dishes and my son brought his plate through and then proceeded to throw his left-overs at me.  While I never reacted to my ex-wife doing this, I did to my son shouting at him and telling him off.   There was a look of total confusion on his face and it dawned on me that he was copying his mother’s behaviour thinking that it was acceptable behaviour.  Was I really protecting my children?  My ex-wife started another type of episode around this time.  One day , we were sitting watching TV, and she just announced , I don’t want you here anymore. ‘ She turned violent towards me  and my safest option was to retreat and sit in my car.  She won’t let me back in the house.  So eventually, I drove to my parents’ house who now only lived 4 miles away.  It was the first time I acknowledged that things were bad although I didn’t tell them everything.  They tried to persuade me to stay the night at theirs.  I felt I couldn’t so I went back home but my ex wouldn’t let me back in the house.  I returned to my parents.  The next day , I returned home.. “you’re back then” she said and then behaved as if nothing had happened.  Three months later, she acted in a similar manner, but this time she also threw my clothes and personal belongings out of the front door.  I think she believed that I would return the following day and we would all pretend that it had never happened.  I didn’t.  This time, I knew I just couldn’t go back.

The aftermath
I went to my parents.  This time I showed them my journal.  They were horrified,  I ended up  sleeping on their sofa for 6-7 weeks.   I tried to stay working as a minister.  Despite being presented with evidence of DV, they wanted to sweep it all under the carpet.  I still have a letter where senior leadership ‘strongly urged me to return to the family home and resolve the difficult issues in our marriage.’  Eventually, my own financial malpractice came to light – I held my hands up, resigned as a minister and paid the church back the money they claimed was missing.    They still took legal action and I ended up receiving a police caution which tends to deter prospective employers from taking me on.  The children’s well-being was my only concern now.  I found a house to rent nearby their school.  My 3 children had had enough to cope with so I didn’t want to put any additional pressure on them.  My two daughters needed to escape and came and live with me.  My son stayed with his mum.  I think he feels guilty about everyone else leaving .  I do worry about the ongoing impact on him, all I can do is to try and be there. 
Being a victim of DV resulted in me losing my life’s vocation, my home, many of former friends. The one thing I fought not to lose was my children.  They are all I was left with.  Now, my life’s vocation is speaking out and trying to raise better awareness about DV and the impact it has on us men and our children.

Ian's DV awareness campaign @SiVictim

The Men's Room - A support group for men affected by DV

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Men don't feel pain....

After I was regularly attacked and my assailants’ (who happened to be my wife) anger had burnt out and she was on a calm plateau, I would challenge the unreasonable behaviour and be met with one of two responses: denial or she’d say, “You’re a man, you can cope with it.”  As I’ve spoken to other men who have been violently assaulted by their partner I’ve found that this notion seems quite common among some women, the idea that it’s okay to hit your male partner because you can’t really hurt him, he won’t feel any pain and therefore it doesn’t really count as domestic violence.

I’ve been giving this some thought as to where such nonsense originates from.  During infancy, boys receive the message that it’s a sign of weakness to cry, in fact that to show any sort of emotion is not the done thing for men.  And so when a young boy is hit by another in a juvenile fight, he tries his upmost not to show the pain he feels from his injuries. “It’s just a scratch.”   “It’s only a little cut’   “It looks far worse than it is.” Etc.   The last thing he wants is for his peers to see him ‘crying like a little girl.’  For the young schoolboy, being called a girl is reason enough to grit their teeth and not to show the pain they feel.  This response then stays with most men all through their life.  The reality is that males feel pain just like everyone else but society has conditioned them to suppress that pain and not exhibit any emotion. 

In the laws of the playground jungle, Boys also learn very quickly that you never hit a girl.  Some girls however, also recognise that a boy won’t hit them and they may think it’s funny to hit a boy who they know won’t strike back.  Again, this pattern of behaviour later establishes itself in adulthood.

As a man, I’ve found it hard to express my feelings and emotions.  Even now, I’m still reluctant to show my pain or to express my hurt.  The important thing is that I have found a safe environment where I can.   Bottling it all up or suppressing our hurt and our feelings then impacts our own mental well-being. 

Domestic violence is still largely perceived as a gender issue.  It shouldn’t be.  All abuse is wrong and the gender of both the perpetrator and victim is immaterial.  Gender is NOT the reason the abuse happens and therefore, any restorative action shouldn’t be based around gender.

However, the difficulty remains.  A man being attacked by a woman feels defenceless.  He often chooses not to fight back because of his values.  There are many portrayals of women attacking men – some view it amusing.  Others see it as fair game, the man must deserve it, and anyway that little woman can’t hurt that big, strapping man.  Because of this, people will accept the violent behaviour not appreciating the bigger picture. 

However, for every example you can think of where you’ve seen a man being hit by a woman  (and you would have seen quite a few on television maybe without realising it) ,  just imagine switching  the genders.  You will never see that scene portrayed as man to woman.  Why then, make mockery of women attacking men.  Any form of violence towards any person hurts.  All abuse is wrong.

Men DO feel pain.  They feel the pain of the attack.  They have the pain of having to cope alone as very few will have understanding towards them.  They may even suffer the pain of losing everything in life they held dear.

Domestic Abuse is not gender specific, and neither is pain.  Everyone hurts.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Hidden Picture

As the women’s movement developed in the late 70’s, the concept of Patriarchy  emerged and was latched upon to influence the development of subsequent Domestic Violence programmes.  Patriarchy is the idea that the male has special privilege holding supreme authority over all women and children in every aspect of society.

This heavily affected the work that was taking place around Domestic Violence.  According to many programme providers, “women and children are vulnerable to violence because of their unequal social, economic and political status in society.”

This had led to millions of pounds being ploughed into funding support for women and children, but little support for men.  To support the claims for funding, you will commonly hear that 1 in 4 women will experience Domestic Violence in their lifeline.  An historic statistic from a limited sample is also often put forward : 95% of all domestic violence victims are female (see previous blog to see how this is discredited.)

However, the real picture has been suppressed.  Many professionals have known the truth for decades but haven’t been allowed to speak out.  Domestic Violence is not a result of Patriarchy and should not be a battleground for militant feminists.

Erin Pizzey, founder of the first Women’s Refuge is on record as saying that of the first 100 women to enter the Chiswick Refuge in 1971, 62 were as violent if not more so than the partners they were ‘escaping.’

Erin Pizzey was then ostracized by the feminist movement  because her findings completely contradicted the ideology that they were wanting to promote.  Along with Erin, others who tried to re-address the misinformation being spread received death threats and some even had their cars bombed.

 Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project (PASK) 2012 reveals the following:
The majority of Domestic Violence incidents is mutual – that is where both parties fight each other. 
Population Surveys :                       57.9%
Community Samples                       59.6%
School & College samples             51.9%
Female oriented clinical samples  72.3%

These figures, over 40 years after Chiswick refuge was founded are still fairly consistent with Erin Pizzey’s findings.     Between 51.9% - 59.6%  are mutual Domestic Violence situations.  The big surprise is the figure of 72.3% which comes from clinical samples from Lesbian relationships.  These fighting sisters can’t blame Patriarchy for the violence in their relationships. !!

So what about scenarios where there is no reciprocal violence?  PASK also asks that question.

The figures for Male assaults against female (non-mutual IPV) are:
Population Surveys :                       13.8%
Community Samples                       17.5%
School & College samples             16.2%

Perhaps surprisingly the figures for Female assaults against male (non-mutual IPV) are:

Population Surveys :                       28.3%
Community Samples                       22.9%
School & College samples             31.9%

Notice how woman are twice as likely to attack a male partner, than a male assault a woman without any reciprocal action.   

Domestic Violence is a complex issue but will never be addressed properly until there is acknowledge that women can be as aggressive ( in some cases even more so) than men. 

The approaches to tackle Domestic Violence based on the ideas of patriarchy have and are still failing because they are flawed and not dealing with the real issues.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Statistics - The Truth

Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying , “There are lies, damn lies and statistics,” but he, in fact, attributed the saying to Benjamin Disraeli.   It highlights the difficulty about using statistics because the figures can be distorted to provide evidence for the point of order being argued.

When it comes to the victims of Domestic  Violence, you will encounter various statistics: 1 in 4 women will be a victim, 1 in 6 men will be a victim, even 95 % of all victims will be female ( I STRONGLY dispute this as you shall see).

The problem is that all statistics are based on samples, and some of the samples used were already quite restrictive in the profile of people interviewed and the questions or options given.  In other words, the results had already been determined  and the questionnaires had  been designed to provide the required outcomes.

The figures I present come from the latest statistics available complied from the UK’s Office for National Statistics: Crime Survey (Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12

This is perhaps the most conclusive set of data available but is conveniently ignored by Misandrists to want to promote a different message.  The sample used for the following figures comprised of 5,129 men and 5,991 women. 

The Survey shows that
  • 40% of domestic abuse victims are male: for every five victims, three will be female, two will be male.
  •  7% of women and 5% of men were estimated to have experienced any domestic abuse in the last year, equivalent to an estimated 1.2 million female and 800,000 male victims.
  • 31% (one in four – not quite one in three) of women and 18% (one in six) of men had experienced any domestic abuse since the age of 16. These figures were equivalent to an estimated 5.0 million female victims of domestic abuse and 2.9 million male victims.

So, to recap, based on the latest data set available and taken from a pool of 11,220 people (46 % male 54 % female), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience Domestic Violence in their lifetime and 40% of domestic abuse victims are male therefore 60% are female.

I felt led to write this because I came across an article which made the following claims:

The reality, however, as indicated by Women’s Aid statistics, is that a quarter of British women suffer domestic abuse; many of them experience repeated violence. According to the charity, on average a woman has been assaulted 35 times before she is able to seek help. A perpetrator doesn’t necessarily only cause physical or sexual harm, but may also be psychologically, spiritually, emotionally or financially abusive.

And what about abuse directed against men? Although this does occur in the UK, Women’s Aid says that 95% of the victims of domestic abuse are female.”

I did contact the author to challenge the claims reportedly made by Women’s Aid.  From the information I presented, there is a clear discrepancy. …can both set of figures be correct? 

Perhaps the biggest clue is in the name of the charity.  It’s not Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, it’s WOMEN’S aid.  It is not in the charity’s aims or best interests to acknowledge male victims in any shape or form.

Looking at the Women’s Aid website is most enlightening about the misinformation against Men that they are spreading.  The sad thing is that many who accept at face value that Women’s Aid must be the leading  voice on all domestic abuse matters fail to see the true motive of the charity .

…1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime – many of these on a number of occasions.

On average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner.

One misleading statistic, which is often repeated, is that - while one in four women experience domestic violence - so do one in six men.  These figures are, however, based on single incidents, of a criminal nature, and without regard to:
·         severity of violence
·         whether or not it was repeated - and if so, how often
·         the complex pattern of overlapping abuse of various kinds
·         the context in which it took place.,,,,

The Bold words are as they appear on the webpage.  I’ve unlined the text clearly designed to send out a Misandry message which is false and gender discriminatory.

According to Office for National Statistics: Crime Survey (Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12

   In 2011/12 – 17 men (one every 21 days) died at the hands of their partner or ex partner compared with 88 women (one every four days)

In other words, 1 man every 3 weeks and 1 woman every 4 days (not quite 2 women a week) as Women’s Aid claim are killed by their partner or ex-partner.  Irrespective of Gender, these figures are far too high and any murder is immoral.

However, Women’s Aid clearly claim that all the murderers of female partners are male.  As far as I can ascertain, the gender of the suspects have not been recorded.  Although it would be commonly accepted that most suspects would indeed be male, it is likely that there would be  some same-sex relationships included in the fatalities.   

By slightly manipulating the crime statistics, Women’s Aid attempt to make male mistreatment of females look worse than it is without acknowledging women can also behave in such an evil manner. 

Women’s Aid accept the 1 in 4 women statistic, but  challenge the 1 in 6 men statistic although they both come from the same source!  How bizarre!

How can it be misleading ? Hmmmmmm?  Does that make the 1 in 4 women misleading by the  same token?   

They claim that it’s not reliable because it refers to a single incident but the same criteria is used to measure both genders. The real truth is that it promotes a reality that Women’s Aid doesn’t want to admit to! 

There is over 30 years of academic research available that offers confirmation that a similar proportion of men and women are domestic violence victims.  I've said it before and I will say it again, Domestic Violence affects everyone irrespective of Gender - it is never a gender issue alone.  This message has been silenced because it doesn't match the misandrist agenda of many feminists.  

A lot of Misandrists love to claim that 95% of domestic violence victims are woman.
This originated from the USA back in November 1994, nearly 20 years ago and came from the following:

90-95% of domestic violence victims are women. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings: Violence between Intimates (NCJ-. 149259), November 1994.)
Strange how the sampling or method used to arrive at this extortionate percentage has been lost over the period of time!  Also strange is that fact that academic reports which challenged this bias have been ignored, although accepted at the time as addressing an inaccuracy.
Professor Murray Straus’ epic and ground-breaking paper, ‘The Controversy Over Domestic Violence by Women 1999 ‘   can still be found online if you look hard enough:
In this paper Professor Straus writes of the attacks against him and his team because of their findings:
In the mid-1970s my colleagues and I made the disturbing discovery  that
women physically assaulted partners in  marital, cohabiting, and dating relationships as often  as men  assaulted their partners (Steinmetz, 1978; Straus, 1997; Straus, Gelles, & Steinnietz,  1980). This finding  caused me  and  my former  colleague, Suzanne Steinmetz,  to  be  excommunicated  as feminists. Neither  of  us  has accepted  that sentence, but  it remains in  force.  So when Salman Rushdie was  condemned to  death  for his heresy,  we  may  have felt even more empathy than most people because we had also experienced many threats, including a bomb threat.

As a result  of  the women's movement, the traditional reluctance  of the police to become involved in  "domestics"  (Kaufman  Kantor & Straus, 1990; Straus, 1977) has changed. In most jurisdictions  in  the United  States, state laws or police regulations now require or recommend arrest. However, consistent with the greater injury rate for women, these laws and regulations may state or imply a male offender. Although on average, when there is an injury, this is correct, it denies male victims equal protection under the law. In fact, there are  a growing  number  of  complaints  that  attempts  by  men to  obtain police  protection  may  result in the man being arrested  (Cook, 1997). That ironic situation is an additional reason that men are reluctant to call for police protection. The main  reason  is  one  already discussed  in  explaining  gender differences  in  police  statistics:  The  injury  rate  is  much lower  when  the offender  is a woman  and  there  is  therefore  less  perceived  need  to  call for protection.  The fact  that  assault  is  a legal  and  moral  crime, regardless  of whether there is injury, is lost from view.

Men  are also  less likely  to  call the  police,  even  when  there  is  injury, because, like women, they feel shame about disclosing family violence. But for many men, the shame is compounded  by  the shame of not  being  able to keep their wives under control. Among this group, a "real man" would be able to keep her under control. Moreover, many police share these same traditional gender role expectations. This adds to the legal and regulatory  presumption That is, they  know they  are likely to be able to get away with it. As in the case of other crimes, the probability of a woman assaulting her partner is strongly influenced by  what she thinks she can get away with (Gelles & Straus, 1988).

In the last paragraph, Straus touches on how the ‘90-95% of domestic violence victims are women’ statement was arrived at.  He expounds it further explaining how the figure is derived .

.. “Crime studies, without  exception, show much higher rates of assault by men, often 90% by men. Crime studies also find a prevalence rate (for both men and women) that is a small fraction of the rate of assaults found by family conflict studies. The difference in prevalence rates and  in  gender differences  between the two  types of studies  probably  occur because crime studies deal with only the small part of all domestic assaults that the participants experience as a crime, such as assaults which result in an injury serious enough to need medical attention, or assaults by  a former partner. These occur relatively rarely and tend to be assaults by men. “

….Other reasons why assaults by women  are rare  in  police statistics probably include the reluctance of men to admit that they cannot "handle their wives." In  addition, although police  in some jurisdictions  are now  arresting female offenders more than previously, analogous to their former reluctance to make arrests  of  husbands,  they  remain reluctant  to  make arrests  in  such cases
(Cook,  1997).”

Circa 1994, the 90-95% was the given gender split which reported serious Crime assaults resulting in injury caused by an ex- partner.  Back in 1994, men just didn’t report similar assaults where they had been victims and even today, 20 years later, there is a reluctance by men to do so.

The truth is out there – sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find it!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Contact with Children

Neither parental responsibility nor the payment of child maintenance has any bearing on access to children.  With parents separating, the priority must surely be the residence (formerly called custody) of children.  Usually, with one parent having residence, the other will require contact (previously known as access).  The most important factor in any form of contact is whether it is beneficial to the child/children concerned. Enshrined within The Children’s Act 1989  is the principle that ‘the child’s/children’s welfare is the most paramount consideration.
It is always hoped that separating parents can come to a satisfactory settlement however should the courts be involved in the decision, the wishes of children aged 14 years and older are considered and are used to decide where the child will end up staying. Some courts may also consider the wishes of children aged between 8 and 13 years. It is important to note that the child does not choose where they want to live, the court considers their wishes and preferences about the parents.

Separating parents should put to one side the issues they have which each other in order to come to an agreement that acknowledges that the child/children’s well-being is the most important issue that need a satisfactory resolution.

Warring parents SHOULD NOT use their child/children and the terms of residence or contact as an opportunity to score points over the other party.

I can’t comment on how the family courts operate as I’ve had no personal experience of these.  However, I do know of many fathers who feel that the decisions of such court have victimized them and been more favourable to the mothers.

Tragically, official figures show one child in five whose parents have separated will lose touch with their absent parent within three years and in some cases they will never see them again. Many more lose contact with a parent most often with fathers when the parents have not been able to agree on where the child should live and how the child should be raised.

Parents should try and ensure that their contact time with their children should be a positive experience.  The children are often the innocent victims of the relationship breakdown. They are caught in the middle.  They don’t want to side with one parent against the other.  They often have to find their own way of dealing with their emotions and feelings about the separation of their parents. 

What follows is my list of DO and DON’TS to make that contact as helpful an experience as it could be for both parent and children:


  • Do keep all contact appointments.
  • Do let your children know how special they are to you
  • Do keep your word/promises to your children
  • Do show interest in your children and all they are involved with
  • Do assure your children that both parents love them and always will
  • Do ensure that your time together is quality time
  • If a venue for contact is an issue, do agree on a neutral venue
  • If planning to take the children away on holiday, do consult the other parent first letting them know of your intention.  If you do take the children away, always inform the other parent of your location.
  • Do try and keep calm when collecting the children.  Being drawn into any form of argument will create a bad atmosphere for the rest of the contact.
  • Do assure your children that you will always have room for them
  • Do male allowances for your children’s behaviour and feelings.  They will be hurting as well as you and this will manifest itself in different ways.
  • Do take your children back to the other parent at the agreed time.  If there should be an unavoidable delay, let the other parent know asap of the problem and keep them updated about progress.


  • Don’t ever cancel your contact time – your children are your top priority come before any other engagement
  • Don’t question your children about the activities of your ex-partner
  • If in a new relationship, don’t initially include your new partner in your contact. Your children need time with you alone.  Eventually, the time will come when your children will feel comfortable about your new partner’s involvement
  • If in a new relationship, don’t talk about your new partner’s children/family in front of your children until you have strengthen your relationship with your children and they are ready to be involved in your new family.  It must be on your children’s terms, not yours.
  • Don’t’ leave your children with others during your contact time.  It is YOUR time not anybody else.  Your children deserve (and need) your undivided attention
  • Don’t criticize the other parent in front of your children.
  • Don’t ignore your children or leave them to their own devices during your contact time
  • If the venue of  the contact is the ‘’old’ family home, don’t change the children's rooms or immediately re-allocate them (eg. to the children of your new partner).   Your children don’t want to feel that you have replaced them with your ‘new’ family.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Child Maintenance

Irrespective of Parental Responsibility, both parents are legally responsible for the financial costs of raising their children. Upon a relationship breakdown, arrangements for the children’s safety and well-being should be the first consideration.  Sometimes the danger is that parents can use their children to direct their feelings/emotions onto the other parent.

One of the first things a parent without residency of children should do is make financial provision for the children of the relationship (known as child support or child maintenance).
If possible, both parents should be able to agree on a private arrangement for this.  This agreement can include details of maintenance payment, which parent is responsible for what aspect of the child’s life, access arrangements etc.  Don’t just make a verbal agreement however make sure everything is documented and signed by both parties.

If you agree maintenance payments in this fashion, don’t pay your ex-partner in cash unless they are prepared to sign a receipt saying that they have been paid child maintenance money.  Make sure that you can provide an audit trail of your payments.  The reason for this is that your ex-partner may deny receiving these payment and if you can’t prove that you have made them, you will have to make them a second time.  Ideally, pay the child maintenance by Bank Transfer so that you can evidence that on a certain day every month you paid the agreed amount into an agreed account.

Importantly, if your ex-partner refuses to accept voluntary child maintenance payments, don’t accept this, At the end of the day, the payment isn’t to your ex-partner but for your child.  When your child is old enough to understand, your ex-partner could use this to poison your child against you…”they were never bothered about you….they never even gave any money for you..etc.”  If you find this happening, open up a separate Bank account and deposit the money in there that you would have given for Child Maintenance.  One day, your child will ask you why you didn’t contribute.  You will then be able to say that your ex-partner said they didn’t want payment, however you didn’t accept this and placed the money regularly in a bank account which you then hand to your child. 

Initially, me and my ex-wife went down this route whereby we agreed a set amount for maintenance, access, and shared parental duties.  However, when I changed jobs I suspected she thought she might be financially better off if she arranged maintenance payments through the Child Support Agency.  The downside about this approach is that a financial assessment is made and enforced within any condition being made for access/visiting rights.  The amount of times children  stay overnight can be taken into consideration  but it doesn’t entitled the parent paying child maintenance to automatic access of their children.

Currently, there are three statutory child maintenance scheme being used to work out maintenance payments.  They are run by either the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
These are
  • The 1993 Scheme run by the CSA
  • The 2003 Scheme run by the CSA
  • The 2012 Scheme run by the CMA
At the moment only a few people are on the 2012 Scheme but it is intended to extend and gradually replace both the 1993 and 2003 Scheme.

For now, there is no charge for using the CMS to make a maintenance arrangement.  However, in the future, you’ll have to pay a fee when you apply unless:
  • you’re aged 18 or younger, or
  • a victim of domestic violence.
If the CMS arranges maintenance, they will make a calculation based on legal rules which take into account:
  • the income of the parent who should pay maintenance
  • the number of qualifying children. These are the children you are caring for
  • the number of relevant other children. These are other children that are also being supported financially.
The calculation doesn’t take into account the income of the parent with whom the children reside or how much you actually need to bring up the children. The amount that parent gets will be fixed. However, the CMS will review the calculation each year.
If the CMS works out maintenance payments, it should take about four weeks to set up the arrangement.

The parent who pays maintenance will usually have to make regular payments directly to the other parent, either monthly or weekly, usually into a bank account or by money transfer. This is called Direct Pay.

However, if Direct Pay is not suitable, the CMS can collect payments from the other parent and pass them onto you. This is called Collect and Pay. For now, this service is free, but eventually the parent paying maintenance will have to pay a fee for this. If you're getting maintenance by this method, you'll eventually end up with less money.

If you’re the parent who should pay maintenance arranged by the Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), and you don’t pay, they can take action against you to make you pay. This is called enforcement action.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) or the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) can try to recover arrears of maintenance in the following ways:
  • take money from  earnings. This is called a deductions from earnings order
  • take money from benefits. This does not apply to arrears under the 1993 Scheme
  • take money from a bank or building society account. This is called a deduction order
  • apply to court for a liability order. If a liability order is granted, they can refer the case to the bailiffs who could come and take property away to be sold to cover arrears and costs
  • apply to court for a charging order to force the selling of property and use the money to pay off child maintenance arrears.
If all other enforcement methods have failed, the CSA or CMS can apply to court for the non-paying parent to be disqualified from driving or sent to prison.

The CSA or CMS also have the power to apply to the High Court to prevent a person from getting rid of property or transferring property if they believe the reason that person is doing it is to avoid paying child maintenance.

If a parent disposed of property to avoid paying maintenance, the CSA or CMS can apply for an order to cancel the sale or transfer. This is called an order to set aside the disposition.
However, the court can't set aside a disposition if it was made:
  • for a reasonable payment, and
  • to a person who acted in good faith who was not aware of your intention to avoid child maintenance payments.

I hope that this outlines clearly rights and responsibilities as they relate to Child Maintenance in the UK.  The important advice for both parties is Keep a record of everything including any contact you may have with CSA/CMS.

How to contact CSA/CMS:

Child Support Agency Helpline
Telephone: 0845 713 3133 
Textphone: 0845 713 8924
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturdays, 9am to 5pm
You’ll need your National Insurance number and date of birth when you contact the CSA/CMS