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Domestic Violence

Feb 172015
 

male-victim-of-domestic-violenceIn 2007, a New South Wales father of two who we’ll call Kevin Logan fell ill. Paralysed, he went to hospital and stayed there for two months. On returning home, he was bedridden for most of the day and unable to work. That’s when his wife’s verbal taunting began. What started as persistent criticisms intensified into threats. Gradually the emotional abuse escalated into physical violence.

One night a few years later, as she set upon him with shoving and biting, Kevin pushed his wife. She fell and hit her head on the side of the couch. When the police arrived, she was demanding his arrest. But on hearing the full story, the police said she should be arrested. She’d initiated the altercation and her husband had acted to defend himself. Kevin refused to press charges.

After the episode with police, Kevin left his family home and lived out of his cleaning van for three months. “People say to me, ‘Why didn’t you go to your mum’s or your brother’s first?'” Kevin told VICE. “But how do you go and tell your family that your wife’s been abusing you?”

The silence experienced by Kevin is typical of family violence against men. And while this could be said of family violence in general, there is a particular shortage of dialogue and services around male victims.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures from 2013 outline that for the prior 12 months one in three victims of current intimate partner violence were male. In January, NSW Police reported that last year one in every five family violence incidents they responded to involving intimate partners were for male victims. The perpetrators in these incidents were both male and female.

Any man can experience family violence, regardless of socio-economic status, sexual preference, and culture. However, the limited research available suggests that men with disabilities or mental health issues, members of the LGBTI community and those who have grown up in an environment with family violence, are more likely to experience it.

The 2010 Intimate Partner Abuse of Men Report outlines that the physical abuse suffered by men ranges from punching to biting to use of weapons. And there were many reported cases of abuse that were not physical but rather verbal, psychological, or sexual. The effects of abuse can lead victims to develop mental disorders and suicidal tendencies. They can lose sense of their own masculinity and many become unemployed as a result.

At present family violence is very much on the national agenda. Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced last week that a Council of Australian Governments national advisory panel into family violence will be established and a Victorian Royal Commission into the issue begins sitting this month. While these inquiries and others like them are vital, it’s likely they’ll only touch on the issue of male victims, if they do at all.

So as Australia begins dealing with its family violence crisis, what’s causing the almost blanket denial of its male victims?

According to Greg Andresen, senior researcher of the One in Three Campaign, a lot of it has to do with society’s deep-seated views on masculinity, which leave male victims unable to discuss what’s happening to them because they’re too ashamed.

“They fear they won’t be believed or understood, that their experiences will be downplayed, that they will be blamed for the violence,” Andresen said. “They may not even identify as a victim of family violence because they have been told victims are female.”

Many in the community struggle to grasp the idea of a man being physically abused, but as Andresen explained, “a woman with a knife is going to be just as effective as a man with a knife.”

This silence is further impacted by the lack of any specialist services for men. In 2009, when Kevin began his search for help, he found little available. A local case worker told him he didn’t fit the criteria for their family violence program, while a second counsellor advised him to attend an anger management course.

“The services just weren’t there. I rang the NSW Department of Community Services, their domestic violence hotline and they said, ‘Sorry I don’t believe you were abused by your wife. Only men abuse women,'” He recounted.

And little has changed. Frontline services — such as ambulances, Lifeline and Legal Aid — are available to both women and men, but most family violence crisis services that provide support through the court process and help in finding accommodation are available only for women. “That is the link in the chain that is still not available to men,” Andresen added.

But there have been some positive changes in NSW. Recently, small pilot programs at the Downing Centre and Parramatta courthouses have started providing free assistance to men during the court process. The NSW Senate Inquiry into Domestic Violence recognised that men make up a significant portion of family violence victims, yet don’t have access to adequate services. This has resulted in some services being made available to men as well as women, such as the housing subsidy Start Safely.

Last month, NSW Police posted a message on their Facebook page to raise public awareness about family violence towards men. Part of an ongoing family violence campaign, the post sparked a social media debate, simultaneously supporting police for finally addressing the issue, whilst criticising the approach they take when dealing with male victims.

But Andresen thinks on whole the police are doing a good job. “They’re quite aware that male victims exist because they’re out there on the front line going into houses at 3am.” But he added, “Unfortunately there are still individual police officers who may, when a male victim comes to the station, tell him to man up, go home and take it on the chin.”

Over recent years, NSW Police have been dealing with more incidents of family violence, as reported cases against both women and men have increased. Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch from NSW Police told VICE that police provide the same level of service to all victims regardless of their gender, age or social circumstance.

Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulrgregoire

Sep 212014
 

 

One in Three Campaign

One third of domestic violence victims denied services

Following last week’s launch of Our Watch,  a new national initiative aimed to prevent violence against women and their children – the One in Three Campaign has released a new analysis of the latest Australian data on male victims of family violence.
Senior Researcher Greg Andresen said, “We are very glad to see violence against women being taken so seriously by the Australian Government. However we are extremely concerned that one third of victims of sexual assault and family violence are excluded by One Watch and its sister organisation ANROWS simply on the basis of their gender.”
The analysis of the ABS Personal Safety Survey and the AIC Homicide in Australia, 2008?10, published today by One in Three, challenges the claim that the vast majority of family violence is committed by men against women and children. Using the same data sources as Fact Sheets recently released by ANROWS, the new data analysis paints a very different picture of gender and family violence in Australia.
“The statistics presented by ANROWS have been designed to over-inflate female victimisation by using lifetime experience of violence instead of current rates, while downplaying male victimisation by taking only the female perspective,” said Mr Andresen.
“75 males were killed in domestic homicide incidents between 2008-10. That’s one death every 10 days,? said Mr Andresen. “1.2 million Australian men have experienced emotional abuse by a partner, almost half a million have experienced violence by a partner and almost a third of a million have experienced violence by a girlfriend/boyfriend or date. Where are the services for these men and boys?”
The vast majority of domestic violence services in Australia are closed to males. There are no shelters for men and their children, no safe rooms or legal support at courthouses, no community education and prevention programmes, no support groups, no perpetrator programs for women or health service screening tools for men.
One in Three is calling upon the Australian Government to comply with its international human rights obligations and provide programs and services for male, as well as female victims of family violence.
“There is simply no excuse for this kind of sexist discrimination in Australia in 2014,” said Mr Andresen.
Male victims of family violence: key statistics
 
  • More than 1 in 3 victims of domestic homicide were male (38.7%)
  • 2 in 5 victims of physical and/or sexual child abuse were male (39.0%)
  • 1 in 3 victims of current partner violence were male (33.3%)
  • Almost 1 in 3 victims of violence from a boyfriend/girlfriend or date were male (27.9%)
  • More than 1 in 3 victims of partner emotional abuse were male (37.1%)
  • 1 in 3 victims of stalking were male (34.2%)
  • Almost 1 in 3 victims of sexual assault were male (29.6%)
Male victims of family violence were:
  • 2 to 3 times more likely than women to have never told anybody about experiencing partner violence
  • Twice as likely as women to have never sought advice or support about experiencing partner violence
  • Up to 40% more likely than women to have not contacted police about experiencing partner violence
  • Half as likely as women to have had a restraining order issued against the perpetrator of partner violence.

MEDIA CONTACT

Greg Andresen, Senior Researcher, One in Three Campaign, 0403 813 925 or info@oneinthree.com.au

Jun 282014
 

women-the-aggressors-in-dvContrary to the overwhelming perception in society, numerous studies and statistics recently published from a variety of disparate sources have indicated that women are more likely to be verbally and physically aggressive to their partners than men, and are increasingly participating in serious acts of violence against other men, women, the elderly and children.

The findings were presented to a symposium on “intimate partner violence” (IPV) at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Forensic Psychology annual conference in Glasgow.

Dr Elizabeth Bates from the University of Cumbria and colleagues from the University of Central Lancashire gave 1104 students (706 women and 398 men) questionnaires about their physical aggression and controlling behaviour, towards partners and to same-sex others (including friends).

Women were revealed to be more likely to be physically aggressive to their partners, and men were more likely to be physically aggressive to their same-sex partners.

Women were also shown to engage in greater levels of controlling behavior, which is understood to be a predictor of physical aggression in both sexes.

“This was an interesting finding,” Dr Bates says. “Previous studies have sought to explain male violence towards women as rising from patriarchal values, which motivate men to seek to control women’s behaviour, using violence if necessary.

“This study found that women demonstrated a desire to control their partners and were more likely to use physical aggression than men.

“It wasn’t just pushing and shoving,” Dr Bates said, of responses to the anonymous questionnaire. “Some people were circling the boxes for things like beating up, kicking, and threatening to use a weapon.

“The feminist movement made violence towards women something we talk about. Now there is more support for men and more of them are coming forward.”

In another finding in Australia, the number of men who report experiencing domestic violence from their current partner has almost doubled since 2005, according to a new survey released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The ABS Personal Safety Survey 2012 collected information from men and women aged 18 years and over about their experience of violence since the age of 15.

Meanwhile, girls have been found to be more devious than boys in their torment of classmates, Australia’s biggest childhood study reveals.

Kids who are poor, overweight, Aboriginal, disabled or living with a single mother are most likely to be picked on in the playground, the Australian Institute of Family Studies has found in a survey of more than 4000 children aged 10 and 11.

Three in every five kids had been subjected to “unfriendly behaviour” in the past year, ranging from hitting to name-calling and being left out of social groups.

And according to new national crime figures women are now outpacing men in the violence stakes, with the rate of women committing assaults jumping 49 per cent since the mid 1990s.

Australian Institute of Criminology data shows the number of female assaults per 100,000 women increased from 125 to 186 between 1996 and 2010 compared to an increase of just 18 per cent for men, while other figures show that mother’s were by far the single biggest group responsible for child abuse and child murder in Australia.

Griffith University’s Violence Research and Prevention Program director Professor Paul Mazerolle said there was “no question” young women were getting more involved in violence: “There’s been a moderate increase in [female] violence but we as a community are less tolerant of violence so we’re seeing more of a response from police.”

Credit: Roberta Parisi – Family Law Express

Sep 122010
 
truths_lies

The issues of child protection and domestic violence have been hijacked by politically motivated feminist cliques, according to a coalition of men’s groups.

The claim came after an ombudsman’s report found bureaucrats guilty of “unreasonable and wrong administrative action” after failing to correct false and misleading information that promoted the idea men were overwhelmingly responsible for domestic violence.

South Australia’s Office for Women presented erroneous statistics, such as 95 per cent of domestic violence involves a male perpetrator and a female victim, the ombudsman found. Raw data show that, overall, at least one in three victims are male.

Men’s Health Australia spokesman Greg Andresen said the SA Ombudsman’s report should make the Gillard Government think twice about rolling back the shared parenting reforms introduced to family law by the Howard government — which effectively guarantee fathers some level of access to their children in the event of marital breakdown.

“The picture seems to be emerging of offices of women around the country — who advise state and federal ministers — having taken deeply feminist lines on domestic abuse and child protection,” Mr Andresen said.

“These bureaucrats have a strong feminist perspective — and that’s probably appropriate for people concerned with women’s issues.

“But the problem is that when governments roll out programs relating to children, what gets rolled out is a program for women, not one that has equal regard for men and women.

“The conventional wisdom among these people is that the only perpetrators of domestic violence are men and the only perpetrators of violence against children are men.

“There is a wealth of research that shows that men are almost as likely to suffer domestic violence or abuse.”

Laurie Nowell, Sunday Herald Sun, 12 September 2010, Section 1, page 28.

Jul 302009
 

Dads not the Demons

Recent data from the Department of Child Protection in Western Australia has debunked a common misconception about fathers and violence. The data shows that natural mothers are far more likely to abuse children than their natural fathers, other than in sexual abuse, where mothers were responsible for only 13% of cases. The past practice of lumping together de factos, live-in boyfriends and overnight male guests together with fathers as “male carers” has led to skewed beliefs about who abuses children. In releasing these recent figures that identify natural fathers separately, the DCP has provided a clearer picture of who is likely to abuse children.

The figures – obtained under Freedom of Information provisions – provide a clearer picture of who is likely to abuse children in families. The data show that there were 1505 substantiations of child abuse in WA during 2007-8. Natural parents were responsible for 37% of total cases. Of these, mothers are identified as the perpetrator of neglect or abuse in 73% of cases, including over 50% of cases of physical abuse. The accompanying graph shows the breakdown of parents responsible for each form of abuse.

Image:Dads not the Demons

Micheal Woods, an academic from the University of Western Sydney, said:

“The data is not surprising – it is in line with international findings regarding perpetrators of child abuse. And the figures do undermine the myth that fathers are the major risk for their children’s well-being”.

The release of this data is timely, and shows the need for solid evidence in developing legislation and policies affecting families. Recently, some radical groups have attacked the Family Court for its role in encouraging shared parenting after separation, claiming that this placed children at risk from violent fathers. Selected instances where fathers have harmed children were used to suggest that this is a common occurrence, and that shared parenting legislation placed children at increased risk.

However, this newly available information demonstrates that while there are some abusive fathers, there are in fact a larger proportion of violent and abusive mothers. This should not mean that children are automatically placed into the care of fathers to reduce risks of abuse, but rather that unrepresentative anecdotes of violent fathers should not influence legislation and policies designed to protect children. The difficult task faced by the Family Court in trying to ensure the best interests of children should not be compounded by irrational fear mongering, but rather by a considered examination of the evidence. Shared parenting may be inconvenient for one parent, or even unwanted, but with changing social roles many more men after separation want to be actively involved in their children’s lives. And in the vast majority of cases, their children will be very safe in their care.

Prof Micheal Woods, University of Western Sydney