When I started blogging, I wanted to try and change the mistaken perceptions that exists surrounding male victims of Domestic Violence. If by telling my story, I was able to help others or even encourage other men to speak out about the abuse they’d experienced then it would be mission accomplished.
I’ve come into contact with all sorts of people. While I am raising awareness in particular about how Domestic Violence affects men, I strongly state that all forms of abuse are wrong irrespectively of gender. It has been good to encounter others with the same message. However, it is deeply disturbing also to come across those who categorically deny that men can suffer at the hands of their partner. ‘It’s just not possible you can’t be a victim,’ they shout, ‘any abuse you’ve had you must have brought upon yourself. It has to be retaliation because you’re the real perpetrator!’
Very soon after I started to tell of my abuse, a friend did say to me, “I hope you do realise that not ALL women behave like that.” I’m glad to say that I knew that and that I have found a new partner who is nothing like my ex-wife. She is very loving and considerate and is everything that one expects a good, healthy relationship to be.
But it set me thinking about the support services given to women. Are abused women told when sharing their story, “Not all men are like that” ? I think I know the answer and I suspect not. When I worked in the care industry, clients were asked their preference of the gender of support worker. Several would say they had issues with men and would prefer a female support worker. It is also true that the majority of support workers are female, so often there is little choice. Women will have a female support worker, but the likelihood is that men would too. Sadly, it does seem that through support services to women, misandry is inadvertently encouraged.
This approach has also meant that often the support service gets highjacked by those with a political agenda wishing to secure more funding for ‘other’ women issues. So, rather than providing a Gender-netural approach to Domestic abuse, the needs of a male victim are inconsequential and the service is gender-bias. Organisations/charities offering support services to ‘women and children’ when advertising for staff often insert the following disclaimer in their adverts:
Female applicants only on the basis that it is an Occupational Requirement as provided for in the Equality Act 2010 (Schedule 9 Work: Exceptions – Part 1 Occupational Requirements).
The real danger is that this encourages Misandry and continues and feeds the myth promoted that all men will treat you appallingly. I’m aware of a men’s movement that is growing and trying to tackle this. What I have seen though, is misandrists and misogynists militants resort to personal insults attacks on each other. Quantified evidence is completely discounted in order to score political points off each other. This is not healthy for anyone, least of all those who have experienced domestic violence.
The support charity I worked for, although acknowledging the client’s gender preference, took the view that the client received support from whichever member of staff was available regardless of gender. I would like to think that those who received support from me realised that, despite their past experiences, all men are not the same and that there are some positive male role models out there. Society needs more men providing such support services to help get this message across.
The need for positive Male role models within the care industry is something I became aware of during my first role as a Church minister. Part of my role was to manage an OFSTED registered Nursery that the Church ran. Prior to me, this particular church had always had female ministers in charge, so the minister was naturally considered part of the staff ratio for the nursery. When I took over the leadership of the church, it meant that part of my role was making up the staff ratio in the nursery as there wasn’t enough funds in the budget to employ a new female member of staff. The nursery was located in a run-down inner city area and many of the children who came to the nursery came from dysfunctional families. One day, when one little boy called me Daddy, it dawned on me that I was perhaps the only positive male role model that these children had in their lives.
We need more positive role models. A gender-bias approach is wrong on all levels because Domestic Violence affects and impacts everyone.