By BHUSHAN SALUNKE.
When the subject of domestic violence arises, the image that comes to mind is that of a frightened, battered and bruised woman cowering in a corner with her angry male partner bearing over her. The woman is always the victim.
However, men are also victims of domestic violence as well. According to research from the 2012 ABS Personal Safety Survey & Australian Institute of Criminology, 75 men were killed in domestic homicide incidents between 2008-2010. This equates to 1 death every 10 days.
It is unfortunate that the media tends to highlight cases of DV against women. We should not belittle or ignore this social scourge, but awareness of DV against men needs to be raised, to focus on the big picture – DV against the family.
Up to one in three victims of sexual assault and at least one in three victims of family violence and abuse is male. In this regard, the campaign ‘One in Three’ (www.oneinthree.com.au) aims to raise public awareness of the existence and needs of male victims of family violence and abuse.
Support systems are available to support female victims of family violence; but are lacking for male victims. Historically, it has been assumed that the majority of perpetrators are male and the majority of victims are female, and policies of governments are based on this assumption. For example, the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children did not include male victims in its March 2009 recommendations. The Indian government’s DV Act does not recognise males as victims.
DV against men includes physical violence, intimidation, threats, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal and financial abuse, property damage, social isolation and legal/administration abuse such as taking out false restraining orders or not allowing the victim access to his children.
So, why don’t men come forward to report DV against them? The OneInThree website lists the following reasons:
- They are likely to be told that there must be something they did to provoke the perpetrator’s abuse
- They can suffer shame, embarrassment and the social stigma of not being able to protect themselves
- They can fear that if they disclose the abuse there will be nowhere for them and their children to escape to
- They can fear that if they disclose the abuse or end the relationship, their partner might become more abusive and/or take the children
- They can feel uncertain about where to seek help, or how to seek help
- Services are less likely to ask whether a man is a victim of family violence, and when they do ask, they are less likely to believe him
- Male victims can be falsely arrested and removed from their homes because of the assumption that because they are male, they must be a perpetrator and not a victim.
DV should not be about gender; looking at the big picture will help in in solving this social problem. Painting all men with the one brush, as abusers of women, will alienate the majority of good men. At the end of the day, there are no winners. Everyone suffers – the man, the woman, the children and people associated with them.
Some of the questions we should be asking are: what are the root causes of DV? How, why and when does it start and why does it keep perpetuating? Why do people live in abusive relationships? What solutions are available? What assistance is available for men faced with DV?
Closer home, how rife is DV against men in the Australian-Indian community? Are statistics available? Are there any assistance/support/counselling programs for silent sufferers?
A comprehensive debate and campaign can help raise awareness of issues, and drive a holistic approach to DV – not against men or women, but against the family.
Readers are welcome to contribute their opinion on this very important issue, visit www.myadda.freeforums.net to join the discussion.
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