Monday, 21 December 2015

The affect of witnessing DV on a child.

I'm incredibly proud of the bravery my daughter has shown in writing this.  Visit her blog at

“Till it happens to you, you don’t know how I feel”.

“Till it happens to you, you don’t know how I feel”.
To a lot of people, it’s a just a nicely written song with a powerful meaning. To many others, it is a complete parallel to their life. The song is by Lady Gaga and, I hear it as a personal message from abuse victims about how it makes them feel. By that I mean, how you feel is totally undescriptive and you only understand if you too are a victim. The music video is centred around anyone who has suffered physical abuse, but the lyrics alone I feel, is for all forms of abuse.
I start with writing about this song so that anyone reading this can try and get their head around the effects of abuse. This Blog post isn’t intended to hurt anyone, but is just a way of releasing experiences that are too painful to talk about. My Dad has been writing a blog for years. I wrote one for his blog when I was in year 9 and suffering from anxiety. Since that blog post I have been dealing with depressive episodes, one of which put me in hospital almost two years ago. This has been a long time coming, and Dad has been extremely patient. But, I write this as an 18-year-old trainee youth worker who has a heart to help youth know they are loved, worthy and don’t have to go through things alone.
When I was a Child, I grew up thinking abuse was a normal thing. As a young child, I even thought it was okay to scratch my older sister, sometimes leaving blood and always leaving scars. Luckily I did grow out of it and would never dream of hurting her again. Currently, I see my sister as a very strong and brave adult. For she took the most verbal abuse from Mum. My sister absolutely wears her emotions on her sleeve, and is very sensitive. But she is so strong for the way she has coped with everything. Her strength has influenced me massively and although we can argue like all sisters can, I know that even if no one else understands my childhood- she will.

 I do remember the first time I know things weren’t normal in our house. My mum had thrown a bag of frozen peas over Dad in the kitchen. I don’t know if I actually saw this happen because memories can be unreliable, especially when I was that young. But what I do remember, is that afterwards mum told me I had to clean up the peas, because the bag has split. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most people. But it was confusing for me, Because I had to clean a mess that wasn’t my fault and had just been used to intentionally hurt my Dad.
A lot of what I saw did involve meal times. The majority of abuse we witnessed as children was over the dinner table, with plates being thrown at Dad or hot drinks being poured over him. When I look back though, I can never remember why mum was so angry. But I do remember there was always an argument in which; mum always shouted the loudest, Dad usually got hurt by mum, my sister was crying and shouting, my brother was lashed out in anger- often to me. And I, tried to keep quiet. Someone had to! I think that’s why I probably feel victim to emotional abuse by mum, because I didn’t argue back so was an easy target. We all got emotionally abused in some way. And this isn’t a way of me to get some sympathy. I would just like to tell what happened to me. And hopefully spread more of an awareness for emotional abuse.

I never even noticed I had been emotionally abused until summer 2015, were my mum had moved house and I was living at her new house with her. When I wasn’t living with Dad, and so instead lived with mum, I was often the cook of the house. I didn’t mind, but when she moved house it got too much. Not only did I cook dinner, but at this point I cooked her and my brothers breakfast, lunch and dinner. More often than not, I was cooking meat. Which, as a vegetarian isn’t something we like to do. It wasn’t only the cooking I was doing however, I also unpacked the boxes for the kitchen, dining room, the lounge, the office and obviously my bedroom. I was doing this because mum was in her room unpacking her stuff, because to her that was the priority. I was also doing the cleaning, and even spent 7 hours scrubbing the draining rack because mum had let so much grease and grime grow on it. This took up the whole time of me being there, so I never sat down, only to eat. This meant I became so stressed and tired and I remember one day feeling so faint in the kitchen, and knowing I had to sit down, but didn’t because there was so much to be done. I never did get a thank you from mum, and the next time I was at dads I got in and cried. Most mums would probably be so thankful that their child was doing so much in the house, I don’t know if mine was. Instead she actually shouted at me for all the things she thought I’d done wrong. For example, later on that day I was feeling faint in the kitchen, O2 network was down. Automatically I got the blame from mum for braking her phone. It got to the point where she was screaming at me for hours, “You’ve done this” “tell me what you have done and why” and in saying I didn’t know how to fix a whole network because that’s impossible, the once screaming turned into a sly sounding “I think you do and that’s not nice is it” and “I’ll remember this when I next put money in your bank”. I had no way to defend myself and was too tired to even try, so I went to bed early and cried. Naturally, 02 fixed the problem themselves and mum never spoke about it again. It was a new day and I was back to making breakfast as normal.
There are so many other examples of when mum has emotionally abused me when I was younger but I don’t want to create a list on a topic this hard to write about. But I will give an example of a situation more recently. When I moved away to do my youth work course, I expected things to change. When I moved, I knew I needed space and time to deal with my issues with mum. But, mum did not give the space I so desperately wanted. I was getting texts every hour, which mainly consisted of “why aren’t you talking to me”. It wasn’t that I wasn’t talking to her, it was just that I had to work and so couldn’t be available every hour. I tried more than once to explain I was at work and her replies were often “but what have I done wrong” or “I won’t give you money anymore” or even sometimes “I’ll put more money in your bank if you reply”. She often loomed the threat of money over me and always offered to buy and spend on us as a way of buying my love. One day I even got a text saying “why aren’t you a sweet girl anymore” for no reason, for I had spoken to her the previous evening on the phone. The hardest moment when I moved was when I received a text form my younger brother which said “She told me to shut up”. To anyone else, they may not see the problem with this text. But, I know my brother and know exactly who he meant by “she” and know he takes it to heart when someone says shut up to him. When I rang him to see if he was okay, he was very quiet, mum took the phone off him and said “what happens here doesn’t concern you anymore” and hung up. I was with my Co-worker at the time, and so she heard everything. I cried and she listened and understood everything I was telling her. For once I felt like I wasn’t over reacting and finally someone saw the real side of mum.
The truth is, I have no way of knowing how to cope or be healed by these experiences except through God. But I am hoping writing helps. But I can’t get over something which is still happening and which my mum shows no sympathy or recognition. I wish she understood what she has done affected us all differently but I have to except that won’t happen. I know this coming Christmas, I will be at her house. I don’t think she will make me cook for her this time, having been away for so long she would have to have cooked. But I do know I will have to sit in the lounge with her and she will ignore me because that’s quite a normal thing for her to do. So normal that it was a friend who pointed it out to me when she slept over at my house, as I didn’t even realise. I will be talking and mum won’t be listening, or she will cut me off to say what she wants to say, and most of the time she just simply won’t be talking but sitting on her laptop. Being ignored by your own mother is hard, as is being blamed for things you can’t defend yourself in, as is watching your dad being abused. If your reading this and have similar experiences, just know that emotional abuse is a true form of abuse and you are not over reacting, it does hurt too. But only you have the power to control what and who hurts you. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Why Police are failing DV victims

It came as no surprise to me to read in the local and national newspapers that my local Police force are one of 27 forces failing to deal adequately with Domestic Abuse cases and victims.  Indeed, on the same day it was also reported that
 ‘A Police officer has been sacked for failing to carry out an “adequate” investigation into a domestic violence case.’  Nottingham Post, 15th December 2015.
During the course of my campaigning, I have met with various senior Police Offices to discuss their approach to Domestic Abuse.  While we have had positive exchanges, all have advised me that the local DV policy is directed by the local Police & Crime Commissioner. 
Nottinghamshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner is Paddy Tipping.  Prior to being elected to this post in 2012, Mr Tipping served as the Sherwood constituency Member of Parliament from 1992 to 2010 when he decided to stand down due to ill health.  Paddy Tipping had also been caught up in the MP expenses scandal and in 2009, paid back more than £ 14,000 which had been claimed in mortgage interests payments on his London flat.  The original claim was approved by the Fees Office and in accordance with Parliamentary rules.
To approach Mr Tipping, I had to go through his PA Amy Evans.  Amy Evans made the headlines herself in May 2015 when she admitted accessing  police records for personal use, as suspended and fined £ 2,900.
When I’d established contact with Mr Tipping, he advised me that if I wished to discuss Domestic Violence policy, I would need to speak the Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner as she’d been delegated the DV portfolio.
While the Commissioner’s post was an elected one, the position of his deputy was one by appointment.  Following Mr Tipping’s election, on his first day in ‘office’ 22nd November 2012 he duly named Chris Cutland, Executive Director of Women’s Aid Integrated Services in Nottingham as his Deputy.
I did meet with Chris Cutland who did advise me of all services on offer to DV victims and went out of her way to highlight to me the meagre services to male victims fully admitting to me that her priority was females.  Because of her background I found this as no real surprise.
Domestic Abuse policy in Nottinghamshire is heavily influenced by Women’s Aid and hereby lays the problem.  I suspect that this is also the case for the other 26 Police forces found falling short.
Rather than approach Domestic Abuse from a Gender Neuter viewpoint, Women’s Aid maintain a Gender Specific philosophy built around the academically-discredited Duluth model.  The Duluth model insists that men are perpetrators because they are exercising societal learnt power and control while women are only violent in self-defence.  Any serious student of human nature knows that this is not true within itself.  However, this fraudulent model has financed a multi-million industry ( of which Womens Aid has benefitted ) and is the basis for all inadequate services.
In order for any genuine progress the Duluth model needs to be assigned to the dustbin and a new understanding based on the academic studies now appearing that clearly prove that domestic abuse is not about patriarchal power and control.  Domestic abuse is about people of all sexualities and gender being violent to other people. 

If the person responsible for establishing local policy on Domestic Abuse is an appointment by an elected official, it’s little wonder that services for victims are so poor.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Gender Attitudes towards Domestic Violence

I’ve often commented on the attitude of some women towards Domestic Violence and have been contemplating this for a while.  As a victim, survivor and now as a supporter of those experiencing DV, I’ve spoken to many survivors of both genders and have seen a pattern emerge between the attitudes of genders going through Domestic Abuse.   I hope that this piece proves insightful as I share my conclusions.  There will always be some exceptions, however the vast majority of people that I’ve encountered have exhibited the attitudes I describe.  

This was true for me and for other men I have spoken with.  I was a victim of Domestic Violence, but at the time of my abuse, I didn’t consider myself as such.  In fact, I didn’t even recognise what was happening to me was abuse.   Other men have said similar to me.  Is this because the societal messages subconsciously convince us that only men can commit domestic abuse against women?  Even now, the lobbyists keep promoting ‘Violence against Women and Girl’ parliamentary bills and campaigns which keep influencing society to believe that only women can be victims of domestic violence with men generally the abusers.  THIS IS FAR FROM THE REAL TRUTH.  Out of every 5 victims of Domestic Violence, 2 will be male.

It does concern me that many women don’t recognise their violent attacks of their partners as Domestic Violence.  They will make excuses.  Their actions are justifiable because they are women and prone to mood swings or hormonal imbalances caused by menstruation or pregnancy.  

Very few women will claim or accept responsibility for their actions.  It always someone else’s fault.  If they lash out, it’s not their fault it’s the fault of the person they’ve hit.  

The media contributes to this.  Read all the news reports from the courts.  If a man is in court, there’s no leniency.  If a woman is tried for a crime  9 times out of 10 the report will read mother of 2 ( you seldom read father of 2), it will state that the crime was so out of character and she didn’t know why she committed it.  If the woman doesn’t state that, the report will usually says she suffers from mental health or substance addiction.  The resulting sentence often means that the woman would get a suspended sentence whereas a male offender would go straight to jail.

Do you think I’m over-reacting?  Recently , the ITV This Morning show spent a morning on ‘Female Anger Epidemic’.  A woman talked about her own anger issues and admitted throwing a rosebowl at her partner.  She said that if it had been the other way around and her partner had thrown the bowl at her, it would be domestic violence.  I sat there watching, and said It is Domestic Violence – there’s no difference. 

But this highlights the difference in my eyes.   In my experience, women don’t recognise their violent behaviour towards their partners as Domestic Abuse and consequently fail to accept any responsibility for their actions. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Listen Up

Part of the feedback I received from my last blog was ‘ when we (men) have spoken out, we are not believed or listened too.’

Men and boys aren’t encouraged to speak out or talk about their problems or issues.  As a man speaking out, I have been described on numerous occasion as ‘being brave.’  To be honest, I don’t see myself as such however I do feel strongly that injustices should be identified and addressed.  If we remain silent, how can anything be done?

It is true, though, that some attempts by men/boys are met with ridicule.  In the past this would also be true for women, but no one would dare to belittle the female gender.

Men haven’t been good at speaking out about the issues that deeply affect and trouble them.  This may be because from an early age, we are conditioned to grin and bear it.  Take for example, the way parents generally deal with crying children:

Little Emily cries.” What’s wrong, dear?”  Emily then has the opportunity to speak and be heard.

Little John cries.  “Stop crying…Big boys don’t cry..”     Poor John then learns early in life that no-one really wants to listen to him share his concerns.  He then goes through life being unable to speak out.

As a victim of Domestic Victim, I felt I couldn’t speak out about what was happening to me because no body would believe me. 

As a man, I also know that I don’t visit my Doctor as often as I do.  The few occasions when I have made an appointment, my opening statement has either been, “Sorry to waste your time, but my partner said I should see you about this,”  or “It’s probably nothing but…”

It has been long established that men are less likely to visit their Doctors and often by the time they receive a diagnosis, effective treatment may no longer be available.  This is one contributory factor to why men on average die at a younger age than women.

So today’s message is Listen Up to anyone speaking out, they may be saying something worthwhile!