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My Response - “Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls."

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

“Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls.”

Whoever came up with this title, has absolutely no understanding of what it is to be a victim of domestic abuse. It is utterly ridiculous and downright irresponsible and sets the tone for a document that fails to deliver on every level.

As a survivor of female perpetrated domestic abuse, I find this title dangerously counter productive. Male victims face extra barriers to reporting abuse. These include being ashamed and embarrassed to come forward and men are almost three times less likely than women to report their abuse. This title negatively and incorrectly, reinforces the idea that these crimes are a female issue only, which will further shame male victims into silence.

“This document outlines the Government’s support for male victims of crimes that fall within the violence against women and girls space.”

Men and boys are disproportionately affected by knife crime but you won’t hear: “This document outlines the Government’s support for female victims of crimes that fall within the violence against men and boys space.”

You wont hear, "This document outlines the Government’s support for black victims of crimes that fall within the violence against white people's space.” Why? Because it's abhorrent, discriminatory and immoral.

A crime is a crime, regardless of who it affects. Representing that crime as something that belongs in a “female space,” only works to minimise the experiences of male victims. You're saying to men, "this is a female only issue, you can't really be a part of this discussion. Further isolating male victims and their children.

Throughout the document we see the phrase, “disproportionately affects women and girls.”

The phrase that was previously and widely used, was, “women comprise the "overwhelming" majority of victims of domestic abuse”. However, The U.K Statistics Authority ruled in 2009 and again in 2019, that women were not the "overwhelming" majority of victims and that men made up a "significant" number of domestic abuse victims. To get around this, certain individuals and organisations have now replaced "overwhelming" with "disproportionately."

The statement, “disproportionately affects women and girls.” ignores the global evidence.

The most comprehensive meta analysis of 1700 peer reviewed studies in the U.K. and North America, concluded that:

57.9% of IPV reported was bi-directional.

42% unidirectional.

13.8% of the unidirectional violence was male to female.

28.3% was female to male.

In this unprecedented study, a total of 42 scholars and 70 research assistants at 20 universities and research institutions in the U.K. Canada and the USA, spent two years researching their topics and writing up the results. Approximately 12,000 studies were considered and more than 1,700 were summarised and organised into tables. The 17 manuscripts, which provide a review of findings on each of the topics, for a total of 2,657 pages, appear in 5 consecutive special issues of the peer-reviewed journal “Partner Abuse.” All conclusions, including the extent to which the research evidence supports or undermines current theories, were based strictly on the data collected.

This data is ignored by the British Government and the domestic abuse sector.

“The Government thanks all contributors to the Call for Evidence.”

Whilst I welcome the fact that male victims had the opportunity to give evidence in this instance. It is again, an after thought.

It should not be forgotten that during the crucial consultation phase of the new Domestic Abuse Bill, male victims and the organisations that support them, were deliberately excluded from crucial parliamentary debates, despite requesting to give evidence.

Only female victims and the organisations that support them, were allowed to participate.

If the government were serious about supporting male victims and their children, this blatant discrimination would not have been allowed to take place.

If this document is aimed at helping male victims, I would question why, at every opportunity, we are told that, "women are more affected?" Sexual abuse, honour based abuse, stalking, (sexual harassment being the one exception) all stress the point that "women are more affected," prioritising the experiences of women and minimising the experiences of male victims. Their is an entire VAWG strategy, backed up by a myriad of other initiatives for female victims, we don’t need to hear it within this document.

There is so much more I could criticise about this document but I think I’ve made my point. This is a document that simply regurgitates a lot of information that we already know and does more damage than good. It in no way, gives encouragement and support, quite the opposite.

What do heterosexual, gay, bisexual and transgender male victims/survivors and their children need?

I can not speak for others but as a survivor, i can give my humble opinion.

As recommended by Dame Vera Baird, DBE QC, the Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales, we urgently need a stand alone, Violence Against Men And Boys Strategy. Unfortunately, she first stated this 3.5 years ago and has again been ignored. You can read her scathing response to the position statement here: Male survivors are an "afterthought" in Home Office policy document - Victims Commissioner

I initially opposed the idea of a minister for men. I felt that we had more than enough overpaid MPs in this country. I felt that the Equalities Minister, oh wait, sorry. The Minister for Women and Equalities (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) should be made to do their job of enforcing real equality. However, this is clearly not going to happen. So i think that we absolutely need a Minister for men.

We need regulation for domestic abuse training. There is no place for gender bias training. It is dangerous and irresponsible. Training that’s delivered to front line services such as the police and NHS should only be delivered by organisations that practice genuine equality, diversity and inclusion. Recognising and supporting all victims and perpetrators equally, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, disability, age or social and workplace position.

We need the Government and those they select to oversee and support the domestic abuse sector, to also recognise and support all victims and perpetrators equally, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, disability, age or social and workplace position.

There is a 24/7 “National Domestic Abuse Helpline” supporting women, yet no equal support for male victims. The male equivalent is the “men’s advice line.” Advice? For what? It is not 24/7 and it's name fails to recognise men as victims of domestic abuse. It's title, again minimises men's experiences of abuse.

A domestic abuse helpline for men, should be run by an independent organisation that is not feminist driven. Callers to The National Domestic Abuse Helpline (women) are not screened to assess if they may be perpetrators, however, male victims are screened when calling The Men's Advice Line. This is not acceptable under any circumstances.

We need more refuges and we need proportionate funding.

We need an investigation into how women’s groups spend their money. For example: Refuge are the largest charity of its kind in England, with an annual income, in the tens of millions of pounds and employing more than 200 people. Its huge income, allowed its recently retired CEO, to be paid more than double the average income for a CEO in London, and Refuge rents its offices in one of the most prestigious and expensive real estate areas in the UK. Yet it still claims it does not have enough money to support victims. This is not a fair and proper distribution of government money.

There needs to be an open and honest discussion about female perpetrators. This is an issue that is rarely discussed and that needs to change at every level.

Organisations such as Refuge and Women’s Aid, should be forced to spend some of the tens of millions they are given by the government, on running perpetrator programs for women.

We need to ensure that the language used by the government, police, media and other official organisations, is inclusive of all victims. Talking about domestic abuse should not be seen as an opportunity to minimise the experiences of one group, whilst inflating the experiences of another. It should be seen as an opportunity to give hope and support to all victims.

Male victims, their children and families, are not second class citizens and yet, they are treated as such. The current narrative has had 50 years to end the cycle of abuse and has failed miserably. It’s time for change.

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