Most perpetrators of domestic violence are men. And most victims are female. The support and awareness campaigns focus on protecting women from abuse.
But what about a man that’s a victim of domestic abuse?
The article highlights the hypocrisy I feel in myself for having a ‘problem’ with those who oppose Black Lives Matter on the basis of “Because all lives matter”, and when I see an ad saying “Stop Domestic Violence Against Women” and feel that it should just say “Stop Domestic Violence.”
Domestic Violence Matters
I’ve been struck with a bout of mini-hypocrisy lately.
Let me tell you my views on Black Lives Matter to provide some context. So, you know how there are a small — but vocal — community who insist upon stating that this movement is —and I’m paraphrasing, but you’ll get the point: “useless, and serves no purpose because all lives matter, not just black ones.”
I wonder if they are missing the point.
Because, well… Of course all lives matter.
But, unless I’m mistaken, I’m pretty sure the origin and ‘need’ for the Black Lives Matter movement comes about because—just possibly — not everyone actually believes that black lives matter.
It’s well-covered ground that blacks in the U.S. are jailed more, and face harsher sentences for similar crimes vs whites. White guy rapes a girl? You’re a good swimmer, so let’s cut you some slack. Black guy rapes a girl? 15-25 years in the slammer! Both should be in jail, but both should probably have a similar sentence, right? While we might debate the merits of individual points and the details surrounding them, it just seems that some people don’t actually think black lives matter. Or, at least not as much as white ones.
So, you might be able to guess, I’m conceptually on board with Black Lives Matter and I think that those who say “All Lives Matter, silly” are missing the whole point.
But All Domestic Violence Matters, Silly.
And there’s the rub. There’s a lot of focus here in Australia on domestic violence. Bus signs, tv ads, magazines and news coverage are bringing this to the fore. Our Australian of the year in 2015 was Rosie Batty, a domestic violence campaigner who suffered the death of her son at the hands of his mentally ill father. Rosie Batty has increased publicity around the issue of family violence.
But the definition of “domestic violence” as it relates to statistics can be a little misleading. For instance, an acute episode of psychosis, or the actions of a demented patient, won’t fit a definition of domestic violence according to Anna Butler, manager of the NSW domestic violence review team.
Additionally, is “domestic violence” physical violence? Sexual violence? Emotional? Financial? In the Rosie Batty instance above, her abuser had a history of mental illness, so does/should that count in the core stats?
So, there’s conjecture around the makeup of the numbers. But, such as they are, regarding men specifically, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013), ‘during the previous 12 months one in three persons who experienced violence from a current partner were male (33.3%)’. Overall, 94% of partner and dating violence committed against men is perpetrated by females (94% female vs 6% male). But the nuance behind those stats make for grim reading. Men are two to three times more likely to have never told anybody about being a current or previous victim of abuse. Men are half as likely as women to seek support, and are less likely to have contacted the police — and that’s from a 175% rise in police reporting between 2005 and 2012.
The number of incidents of men reporting is coming from a low base, rising quickly, yet still lags far behind women who report.
But the numbers also state that 17% of all women and 5% of men had experienced violence since the age of 15.
So, in the majority, this is a crime perpetrated by men against women — no getting away from that. Programs, support groups, and public awareness campaigns are in place to assist addressing this — as well they should be.
But what about the husbands or boyfriends that are suffering this crime?
Because, ya know, again… All domestic violence matters.
I’m six feet tall and pretty fit. I’m no muscle-bound fiend, but many blokes would think twice about physically having a go at me. So, a girlfriend or wife is not going to physically intimidate me as a rule. But domestic violence is so much more than physical. Increasingly, there’s an understanding that domestic violence is also psychological, financial, emotional, verbal, and more. The size of your abuser counts for very little in these instances.
In the area where I live, for instance, the major form of domestic violence is financial. That’s right, financial. “You don’t need that, gimme the credit card.” “The car’s mine, you’re not using it – can’t bloody drive anyway.” “Why you spending my money?”
I’ve had that.
It takes other forms, too.
Lies and manipulation are an attempt at control. Even if caught lying red-handed, the abuser often tries to double down on the lie in an attempt to reframe your reality. With enough time, you’ll be asking yourself “Does the sun really rise in the east?” Does your head in.
I’ve had that.
One of the tell-tale forms of abuse is belittling your spouse or partner in front of their friends and family. The bully needs to make themselves feel better by putting others down.
I’ve had that.
Nobody in a relationship with me has physically raised a finger against me. Though according to White Ribbon Australia, a leading organisation set up to ‘Stop Violence Against Women’, I’ve suffered domestic violence.
Now, White Ribbon is an excellent (and sadly, essential) organisation. And much like Black Lives Matter are putting a focus on Black lives because that’s where there seems to be a need to focus, White Ribbon, is focusing on Women.
But here comes my Black Lives Matter vs Domestic Violence hypocrisy…
Why do we not talk about the abuse men face from female partners? Their numbers might be smaller, but the impacts are still great.
Do I feel like a domestic violence… Victim? No. Even writing the word seemed weird. Have I been abused? I was never hit. I never saw it as abuse. I mean, everybody has a bad day, yeah?
Well, yes, but there’s the rub, isn’t it? What’s just a bad day and what’s abuse? It’s fine to say “Hey, we need to watch our cash.” But, “Hey! That’s my money, I earned it while you stayed at home and did nothing. Don’t spend my money,” just makes you a dick! Plus, the kids don’t look after themselves, do they?
And if it’s happening constantly, we can pretty much rule out “It’s just a bad day.” See, I think men are a little behind the ladies in more than just reporting domestic violence. Some men don’t want to talk about it, they’re embarrassed and make excuses. Like Housewife in the 1950s used to tell the kids to keep it down when Provider got home from a hard day at the office — so he could enjoy his dinner in peace and quiet… So that Provider didn’t kick the shit out of everyone.
Doris made excuses… Dad was an abusive human and Doris was telling her friends she ran into a doorknob. Or fell down the stairs!
And abused men make excuses too.
There’s an added stigma for men because men are supposed to be tough.
They worry about looking weak, belittled.
They worry about being believed.
They struggle to accept they’ve been abused, because ‘how could she abuse him; he’s huge!’
I understand that this affects more women than men. I do. I get it. And I don’t seek to undermine that. I’m not suggesting an either/or proposition.
But I sit in my car, and I see the ad on the side of the bus: “Stop Domestic Violence Towards Women” and I have my moment of “Black Lives Matter” hypocrisy…
Perhaps I’m just being self-centered.
But I’d feel so much better if they could have cut off the last two words of that ad.
It should read: “Stop Domestic Violence.”
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