Men who have been victims of abuse are not bad men. They did not ask for this, they did not incite it and they do not deserve it. No one does.
So where are the male victims, and why don’t they speak up? They are here, and they are speaking now. In my support groups men freely share with me because they are not judged, and they know they are not alone.
Here is Simon Lanham’s account of what happened to him
“On the night of the event my son awoke needing a nappy change. I was exhausted from caring for him the previous 4 nights during a gastro illness. I asked his Mum if she could do it and she replied that she would. I informed her that she was needed to retrieve the wipes from my vehicle parked outside the cabin we were staying in. She replied “Well fuck that. You can do it”. As I got out of bed I called her a lazy bitch.
At the end of the short corridor out to the small lounge/kitchen area, she ran up behind me and attacked me. I pushed her down and went out the door. When I came back in I turned to face out the sliding door to close it. It was then that I felt small electric shocks in my back. I remember thinking “What the hell is that?” And I turned to my right and immediately fell to my knees yelling in agony. I didn’t know why I couldn’t breathe properly or why it hurt so much.
I heard her absolutely freaking out. “She was screaming what do I do, what do I do?” I said “Turn the bloody light on”
It was then that I saw the blood splashes. I thought “This is not good”. I felt the pain in my chest. I pulled my shirt out and saw a small mouth in my ribcage below my right breast and I knew straight up it was a stab wound.
I was absolutely furious in my stunned disbelief that she had stabbed me. I was really angry at her calling her names and telling her to stay away from me. That was when I went into shock. I was sweating like never before. I was freezing cold and shaking like a sick dog.
I am aware that the intensity of the shock reaction is a major indicator as to the severity of the trauma. I had never felt such an intense shock level as the one I was currently experiencing.
I underwent an emergency laparotomy to repair a penetrating wound to my liver. I was told they took over a litre and a half of blood from my chest cavity. I had 28 metal staples externally and An unknown (by me) number of stitches internally. I had a tube sown into each side of my tummy to drain the cavity as I healed. I had a morphine button. I was also on oxygen. I was catheterised and cannulated in each arm.
I was not allowed to eat for a ten day period. After approximately 5-6 days I developed a bile leak into the cavity. This became life threatening due to the volume of the leak and a partially collapsed lung. I was given another laparotomy and they removed my gall bladder and appendix.
Simon’s horrific event has now left him with the ongoing trauma from what happened to him. His partner was convicted, but she never served a day in jail for this violent and life threatening assault that was witnessed by their infant son. If the genders were reversed, he would be imprisoned for a very long time.
Despite being on Newstart he has not been eligible for Legal Aid and there are no male centred victims of domestic violence services available to him. The support he and many other receive from people like myself is entirely voluntary and unfunded.
And he is not alone. Tyrell Moore gave me the following account.
I was the victim of Domestic Violence (physical, financial, emotional and psychological). There were a number of occasions where I contacted the police to come to the premises and to my shock I was removed from the property because she would start crying.
When the Police arrived sometime after the assault, they told me to wash the blood from my face and to relax, “It’s not that bad”. They soon changed their tune when I showed them the footage of a 90kg woman attacking an 80 kg man like it was a street fight.
[On one occasion] she started punching me in the face with keys between her knuckles, kicking then biting me as I tried to cover my face which was now bleeding.When the Police arrived sometime after the assault, they told me to wash the blood from my face and to relax, “It’s not that bad”. They soon changed their tune when I showed them the footage of a 90kg woman attacking an 80 kg man like it was a street fight.
The last time we broke up, she threw me out and told me to take our daughter. I was happy to leave by then and knew I didn’t have to come back because she gave me the only reason I ever returned to such an abusive relationship; our daughter.
Had he not had video footage, Tyrell’s outcome would have been very different. Police would have told him to man up and get on with it because men are simply dismissed or not believed. His daughter would have been left in the care of a violent and abusive woman.
It’s my personal belief that the Police know these men are genuine victims but they are not trained to deal with men and they know the system is stacked against them, so they tell them to be quiet.
Another man, Rob* told me….
When she was beating me with a shovel in full public view, all I could do was take the shovel off her which I did. I didn’t even push her away.
Rob was later charged with abuse from this very incident – he is fighting for custody of his child with no legal aid or any support available to him. The Police told him to man-up.
In the breakdown of his marriage, Steve’s* story became a 3 year battle which is still ongoing.
An argument started. She chased me around the house as I tried to walk away and tore my clothes while grabbing me. She screamed at me, “go on, hit me!” I didn’t. She took my laptop and threatened to throw it from he veranda. I wrestled it from her to the ground. She sat atop me hitting and clawing at me and screaming. She is smaller than me but I was terrified. I managed to get her off me and put her in an arm lock and called the neighbours who came and tried to calm her down. I didn’t report it. A year later she cited the incident to police as DV on my part in order to get an ADVO against me to keep me away from our daughter. It worked.
In a bid to gain full custody his ex partner accused him of sexual abuse of his infant child, which was later proven unequivocally false. Despite no abuse or violence of any nature on his part, he was alienated from his daughter for 3 years and still now reduced to supervised access only.
Steve reached out to services as a victim to a ‘men’s centre’ and he told me this:
“I went to his centre as a DV victim and was told I could join a group of men dealing with anger issues. I said no, I’m a victim. He said oh well can’t help you then. His funding would seem to depend on men being abusive. He also never returned my calls when I offered to hold Dads in Distress meetings at the centre. It should be called the Women’s and Family centre, just like all the rest of the “support groups” in this area.”
You see in Australia we offer services only for men who are abusers, not victims. For all the men’s centres you see they are all only for perpetrators.
Bill* has full custody of his two daughters. When he received threats against his daughters by their mother, he went to seek help in the form of emergency refuge accommodation and legal advice. At the door to the centre he was greeted with a sign that said “this service is funded to assist women with VRO’s in a family or domestic relationship. We can only see men in a same sex relationship.” Straight men apparently deserve no help.
Uncaring and unthoughtful people on social media and the bigotry and bias of mainstream media will tell you that is because violence is a gendered crime. It is not gendered, and this is clear given the vast numbers of men reaching out for help. Voluntary support groups like my own are worked to capacity.
It is time feminism and the media change the narrative that domestic violence is gendered. If society continues to ignore men and dismiss them of their pain as being irrelevant we will continue to see suicide rates escalate. At a current rate of 38 male suicides per week, we think it’s time you listened.
Men are abused all the time it just stays out of sight. It’s just that we don’t embrace victimhood the way women do. An abused woman will go out of her way to show how she’s being abused. An abused man will go out of his way to hide his scars. Being abused by a woman is an act of shame.
The saddest part for me is that, I am actually the victim in all of this, and my daughter has been traumatised by it. Even now that it has been exposed that there never was any abuse, and I have been vindicated by the court, I have lost my daughter and my home. What has the mother lost? Nothing. She gets it all. Our daughter, my home… There is no justice in the legal system. Not for fathers. Not for men.
“Tell me I’m not alone; tell me that life will one day be better, tell me that I matter and that I make a difference. Tell me that I’m loved, that someone, anyone please tell me you care about what I am going through.”
There are no government funded services for male domestic violence victims, no special legal aid, and no shelters for them or their children.
So you see, when men see post after post about women who are victims they get hurt, angry and frustrated that there is no recognition for them.
Women want domestic violence to be a gendered issue and so it has now come about that men and women are fighting for recognition in media threads. Men are trying to be heard, women are trying to silence them. The blinding hypocrisy of women is evident when you see comments like this.
Don’t make this into a gender fight. Try working together instead.
Domestic Violence appears to only be a gendered issue when it suits women.
If the women commenting on posts could see my inbox flooded with thank you messages from men, they might stop and think before they speak. Media outlets might decide to take the gender out of the fight and maybe in the shadow of a blue moon, our Government might provide some services for men.
It was only my faith in God and beautiful angels like you, that prevented me from ending it all. Today my children still have a father for when this madness is over.
The author, Jasmin, is a specialist men’s coach, author and advocate for services for men and child victims of domestic violence. She is a mother of two who lives in the idyllic coastal town of Merimbula, NSW, Australia. Learn more at http://relatingtomen.com/ where this article originally published as “Mythology Is Killing The Solutions To Domestic Violence“