LAST month a NSW Police Facebook post talked about male victims of family violence and the fact that last year one in five domestic violence assaults that NSW police attended to involved male victims.
This is not news for many of us who have worked for many years to advocate for rights for male domestic violence victims and for services to be provided for them and also female perpetrators
Both of these groups – male victims and female perpetrators – are “invisible” in the eyes of the domestic violence field in this country.
Male victims need to be encouraged to come forward, and they need as much support as female and child victims of family violence, and the NSW Police Facebook post we hope will help to facilitate this.
The fact that women are victims of domestic violence in 66per cent of the cases needs to be addressed and is being addressed, but what about the other 33per cent?
There has been no community education censuring violence by women or raising awareness of the needs of male domestic violence victims.
I run the only training program for health and community workers in how to respond to the needs of male victims in Australia and New Zealand.
There are hundreds of training courses in Australia around domestic violence but none of them deal with the two “invisible” groups, they simply help to perpetrate the myth that domestic violence is something that only happens to women at the hands of men.
Domestic violence can be thought of as an equal opportunity killer.
Recent tragedies in Brisbane and Cairns involving women killing their children show that women are just as capable of homicide as men when children are involved.
The latest statistics from the Australian Institute of Criminology show that between 2008 and 2010, in family-related murders of children by all family members, more than 37per cent of the known killers were the mother. (The source is raw data from the AIC’s National Homicide Monitoring Program at oneinthree.com.au/storage/xls/Family_Violence_Homicides_2008-10_NHMP.xlsx)
It is indeed sad that while our community awareness of the dangers of domestic violence is growing, the information is not being presented fairly and the truth about who might actually commit violence and abuse in relationships is not being accurately portrayed.
Dr Elizabeth Celi, a psychologist and author on men’s health, has some interesting insights.
She says public awareness of domestic violence often falls short of portraying the whole story.
‘‘Decades of rightly raising public awareness for female victims of domestic violence, have simultaneously lacked in accurate public education that women can also be abusive and violent, towards other women, men and children,’’ she says.
She also points out that turning a blind eye to women who commit domestic violence puts children at risk.
‘‘Children are affected by abusive and violent behaviour regardless of the perpetrator’s gender. Our children don’t deserve to be put at risk by overlooking women’s abuse and violence.’’
It is time that we called for a stop to all domestic violence, irrespective of who commits it and who is the victim.
In the real war to stop all violence in relationships, there is no place for gender battles; we need to move on from this and work towards making all men, women and children safe.
Greg Millan is a men’s health consultant. He will run a training program for health workers ‘‘Working with men affected by violence” in Newcastle on February 20.