Wednesday 16 December 2015
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
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
Part of the feedback I received from my last blog http://thesilenceofdomesticviolence.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/its-good-to-talk.html 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.
Tuesday 9 December 2014
When I first began writing about Men’s Issues I adopted a non de plume, Si Victim. This pseudonym was short for Silent Victim which reflected the way I had felt about enduring over 17 years of Domestic Abuse.
As a battered husband, I had nowhere to turn nor was there anyone I could speak to because wives just weren’t capable of attacking their partners. It was unheard of! I knew of no other man in my position. Remaining silent effected every area of my life and everyday I remain on this earth, so to will the consequences of those years.
Having finally left the situation, I began rebuilding my life. I discover that what had happened to me wasn’t as rare as I’d thought. In fact, it was far more common than society would have you believe. According to the latest figures from the British Crime Survey, out of every five Domestic Violence victims, two will be men. Even more startling is the revelation that this is not a new development; Academic research over the last 40 years has consistently produced similar figures.
And yet, government funding for Domestic Abuse programmes has ignored the data choosing instead to bankroll the Feminist myth that all domestic violence assaults are due to male privilege.
At least now, there is an acceptance among most Domestic Abuse service providers that men are affected by DV and they may now offer a ‘token’ service to Male Victims. Take, for example, this recent experience of mine. I telephoned a local, well-advertised Domestic Abuse helpline. On their publicity, there was no statement identifying that it was a gender-specific service. Admittedly the cartoon of a cowering woman that accompanied the phone number would infer that it was.
The first time I called, I went to voicemail and was asked to leave my name and number and an advisor would call me back. I found this quite insensitive as most callers would be fearful about their personal safety and wouldn’t want to leave such details when their abuser could potentially intercept the call. Minutes later, I tried again. This time my call was answered. I gave a brief summary of my story to be greeted with, “ We don’t deal with men, we only talk with women that are being abused by men. I will have to refer you elsewhere.”
After holding on the line, I was given two telephone numbers: The Mankind Initiative 01823 334244 and the Men’s Advice Line 0808 802 4040.
No doubt about it had I been female, all manner of support would have been offered to me.
In November 2010, the Home Office published the strategy paper, ‘Call to end violence against women and girls’, setting out its approach for tackling domestic violence over the Parliament. This included £28 million funding for domestic violence support services.
That’s right £ 28,000,000 funding and all men really have are telephone helplines.
I have been speaking to many people (Councillors, Police & Crime Commissioners, Police Officers, Domestic Violence Prevention Officers etc) challenging this. I keep hearing the same things:
“We know that men are victims too but…”
“Very few men engage with us.”
“You’re one of the few male victims prepared to talk about your experience.”
Having spoken at length on the lack of provision for services to men, I have come to the conclusion service aren’t provided for men because men don’t speak out about their issues or seek the support/help they require/need. This applies not just to Domestic Violence, but right across the spectrum of all men’s issues (such as health, education).
On the whole, men don’t talk about their problems. However, by remaining silent and not identifying our suffering, those areas which require service provision go unchallenged and are not addressed properly.
How can we change things? A starting point is changing perception as to what it means to be a man. When I look back at my childhood, we heard things like “Boys don’t cry” “Be a big, brave boy for mummy,” “Be a Man” Such statements ‘encouraged’ us that we had to be tough, we couldn’t show any emotion because that was a sign of weakness, that we dealt with our own problems.
We take these lessons into adulthood. Men get mocked for suffering from Man Flu and yet, are very reluctant to visit their Doctors. A visit to the GP’s surgery for a man is probably out of necessity. Often, when asked by the GP why they have asked for an appointment, a man will reply, “It’s probably nothing but…” or “ I don’t mean to waste your time but my wife said I should get this checked out.” and then they discover that had they sought an earlier diagnosis, they would have been able for a better chance of recovery.
Saturday 22 November 2014
This is my 100th blog and I felt I wanted to do something different to mark the occasion. It has been an amazing journey so far and I have been staggered by the response and stories I heard. It has been humbling to learn that I have also helped other people by sharing my story and experiences. This all started because as a male victim, I thought that what had happened to me just didn't happen to men. I was alone. I discovered that I wasn't the only one, so it became important to me to get that message out that a man caught or feeling trapped in an abusive relationship isn't on his own. It happens to more men than society would have you believe. What follows is some of the many kind and gracious comments I've received since commencing blogging:
Monday 20 October 2014
It’s a sad indictment on British society when someone is better off financially not work than trying to earn their keep and not be a burden to the tax payer.
To my own personal experience, I have found this to be true and not a urban myth. Were I to claim Jobseekers Allowance, I would be ‘passported’ to other benefit entitlements. However, as a low-income father, I have no eligibility to financial assistance. Indeed, after receiving a 17 page letter from the Benefit office, the only thing I learnt was that I would be financially better off sitting at home doing nothing.
At least, being employment does give me a sense of purpose that I lost during my spells of unemployment. But is it right that I’m penalised for trying to make an effort to improve my lot in life?
While trying to gasp my own situation, the actress Halle Berry is reported as having some money troubles of her own. Allegedly, she pays a monthly child support amount of $ 16,000 to her ex-partner and wants this reduced to $ 3,000 because she feels that her ex partner has been living entirely off of this payment.
She may have a point. The feel she reputedly feels is the way that many fathers feel. And yet, no one listens to the voice of the fathers.
I have had dealings with the Child Support Agency here in Britain. I have found their approach very heavy-handed when they saw me as a ‘deadbeat father.’
Their modus operandi is to issue you with a strongly-toned letter demanding that you reply in 5 days otherwise face possible legal action. However, they are not as prompt should you wish/seek any input from them.
Initially, my ex and I agreed a private maintenance plan, but when she realised she could squeeze more money out of me, she decided on taking a non-negotiable approach via the Child Support Agency. They assessed my income, but not my expenditure even ignoring outgoings that were related to my children. Their assessment of what they felt I should pay my ex-wife was the majority of my wage, leaving me without enough to cover the basic bills such as rent.
For most families I know, it is a struggle. Often, both parents have to work and it isn’t easy. But, a separated mother becomes far more accessible to a whole range of benefits and although some may be ‘means-tested,’ any child support payments aren’t included. Child Support should be remained because often the last person supported by this payment is the child itself!