The Misnomer of Family Violence

I was present in the audience of last night ABC’s QandA program entitled “Family Violence” and feel compelled to give my thoughts.

The issue of Family Violence is certainly one worthy of forum discussion and there are many things in the political and legal system as well as social acceptance of family violence that we need to understand if we are to reduce this grave problem and ideally eliminate it from our communities.

It is widely evident however that we are way off target in this comprehension, and the QandA show only served to heighten my concerns.

In order to change the behaviour of men who are truly violent and emotionally controlling or abusive we first must understand them. Let me highlight, that these men are the minority of our community.

One of the major things missing in last nights (and all) discussions on this topic is the glaring lack of resources and independent research available on men.  If we genuinely want that to solve this problem, why are we not putting funds into investigating the full scope of issues facing men which includes:

  • Domestic Violence (perpetrators)
  • Domestic Violence (victims)
  • Suicide rates
  • Homelessness
  • Sexual Assault
  • Parental Alienation
  • Effects after Divorce and so on….

At the moment, men are viewed through the perspective of women experiences of them which creates an ideology that men should be the same as women.  They are not.

The constant mantra for equality is inherently flawed because equality is not sameness.  Men and women are different and as soon as we can accept this, the sooner we can start to look at men as men not a version of how women want them to be.  Simple Psychology tells us that if you want to change behaviour, you need to understand the human.

My reason for attending QandA last night was wanting to achieve recognition for male victims and their children as part of the family unit.  My expectations were low, and it certainly delivered.  A feminist agenda with a weighted panel was there to talk about female victims with a minor mention of male victims. Even knowing what was coming I am always astounded at the lack of compassion when a man shares his heartfelt story that it can be turned around so quickly to say that he is a minority and ‘really – it’s all about women’.

At least 33.5% of Family Violence victims in Australia are men. One man is killed every 10 days in Family Violence compared to one women every 7 days.   To my way of thinking, one third of our population is a very strong minority.

After listening to several similar and equally sad stories of men’s abuse of women we finally got to hear Steve Kheow speak out about female perpetrated intimate partner violence.  His question was

how can we raise awareness to help the male victims of family violence in such a way that we don’t take away all the good work that we already have in preventing violence against women?

Perhaps naively, I expected this man to be treated with respect from the audience and the panel. There were cries from women in front and around him dismissing his claims.  When addressed by the panel his issues were turned around to call him a minority and then make reference to homosexual relationships being violent. Not only is this statistically incorrect (by a long shot) it was utterly irrelevant as his perpetrator was a woman.

Simon Santosha who spoke first from the panel appears to have zero training in counselling male victims.   This is perhaps not surprising since our legal, political and social system refuses to adequately acknowledge female perpetrators of violence. This does not make his lack of training acceptable, it makes it blatantly ignorant.

Santosha immediately deflected the problem back to men and boys and had no clue how to speak to this man as a survivor of deeply traumatic abuse.

Santosha had spoken earlier about the men he ‘re trains’  for issues like yelling at their wives who are keeping them from their children. He completely failed to acknowledge that females that alienate children and fathers are, in reality, the primary abusers.   Parental Alienation is manipulative, deeply damaging and something that in my opinion should be a chargeable offence.  The problem with programs to ‘re train’ men’s response to abuse is that it simply endorses that women’s abusive behaviour is acceptable, but men’s is not.

For men it seems, the appropriate sanctioned response to abuse is to shut up and take it.

Natasha Stott Despoja was the other panelist who spoke in reply to this question about female perpetrators.  I have little to say about her except that is was an absolute disgrace to watch her tell this man that he was a minority and that women are 3 x more likely to be victims than men.  This statement is an outright lie and defies the ABS statistics on the matter. But her real damage was done in the lack of any evident compassion and empathy and absolutely no understanding of how to LISTEN to a male victim.

If we are to discuss family violence we must discuss ALL family violence.  At the moment, all we are discussing is male perpetrated violence and that is ignoring and dismissing at least one in three victims.

My question is this:

If we continue to ignore the prevalence of female perpetrated abuse and violence, what happens to the children and men who suffer at the hands of these women ?

The Author is Jasmin Newman who originally posted this on her blog relating to men

One thought on “The Misnomer of Family Violence

  1. Help for male victims of domestic violence is a human rights issue. Why it is not being treated as such, is the issue to be tackled. Reading the blogs and comments from around the world, there is a wave of anger and concern that is growing and will continue to grow until politicians and the justice system change their prejudiced and outdated gender views and provide justice and protection for all victims of domestic violence and abuse. So men and women who believe in justice for both vulnerable men and women, need not become too disheartened. Men are being empowered all over the world slowly but surely every time somebody writes a report or makes a comment exposing the gender prejudice in our justice systems. The fight must go on.

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