fortytwowrites

The world through the eyes of a male domestic abuse victim, but its so much more than that !

Month: February, 2014

Creating Change

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On Tuesday 18th February 2014 at 3 O’Clock I arrived at Millennium House in Belfast City Center for my meeting with representatives from the Justice and Health Dept. Arriving and signing in as Forty Two is becoming normal in a strange sort of way, it feels good. it was as I sat waiting for the meeting to begin that i realised apart fro the bullet point notes and the host of unregulated information that swirls round my head I had no clear idea what I intended to say. I also had no clear idea what form the meeting would take. The one thing I was clear on was, whatever unfolded, I was ready for it.

So, I was ushered into the office and introductions were exchanged. Present were the two ladies I expected and we were joined by another Civil Servant who would take part in discussions and also act as scribe. It was immediately apparent that all three were very interested in the issues and hearing my story first hand. It was also explained that the reason for consultation on any document was so people that were likely to be affected by it or use any of the services provided could explain what would work and what would not, with some real word explanations of why.

First I explained the reason I was there was the same reason I do anything, in the hope that by explaining my experiences both during my abuse and since my escape I could help create understanding and change that would improve the lives of others that would surely experience a similar situation. I also stated that until men start coming forward in greater numbers and engaging with government bodies change would be impossible. The meeting quickly became a free flowing conversation that jumped between my recounting events and discussion on what legislation would help and any loopholes in the preposed new strategy around Domestic Abuse. I found this approach worked well for me and I think I put my points across well. My main concern was the new strategy document, and the recent Police Service of Northern Ireland looked to be very focused on preventing violence toward Women and Girls and the statement by Police that “by embedding Woman’s Aid in the service they ware putting the victims at the center of the strategy”. My point being that if you eliminate violence against women and girls, at best you will solve half the problem. I was assured the policy would be designed to serve all victims equally, and I honestly believe that is the objective of the people I spoke to. To that end the main issues and obstacles to male victims I put across were.

The only thing worse than living through a abusive relationship in a state of denial, is living through a abusive relationship with full knowledge of what is going on. If you want men to come forward and admit they are being abused, you must provide a escape route.

It must be financially viable to leave a relationship. Since I escaped I have paid around £16000 in bills associated with my former life, meaning I can not fund independent living.

It should not be a case that leaving your employment is the only way to attain housing benefits or legal aid.

It should not be the case that leaving abuse causes homelessness. On the subject of shelters I note that the Department of health are looking at what type of shelter is appropriate as apposed to if a shelter is needed. I stated that if I had another person to fill the other end of a pantomime horse I would turn up at the donkey sanctuary seeking access. Any form of shelter is better than no shelter at all. I also suggested a “drop in center” where victims could have some private space, the use of a desk ect to correspond with solicitors. This would also give the opportunity to meet others that have been through similar experiences. This space could also become a educational resource.

The current model pre supposes full custody to the mother. Until that changes the phrase “Well if you don’t like it you can go, but you will never see the children again” will win every argument and trap men in abusive relationships.

We have a clear understanding on where Abuse against Women and Girls begins, and that is zero tolerance. There is a blared line with men and nobody knows where the socially acceptable “nagging wife” stops and abuse starts. This needs set at zero tolerance.

There is a need to educate both men and women on what constitutes abuse against men.

It is not acceptable for a woman to be abusive, then say she is on her period. While it is understood that for some women there is a very real illness connected to there period, it is not acceptable to be abusive and not take responsibility for your actions.

The working definition of sexual abuse needs to take account of the fact that this can manifest its self by the denial of intimacy. Where a woman removes sexual contact for prolonged periods of time, which can be years, as a punishment this is also abuse. Acts such as after 13 months of withholding sex, taking of her trousers, lying on a bed and saying “we are going to have sex now, you have ten seconds to be ready” then putting her clothes on and continuing with her day when her tome frame is not met is abuse.

The use of the term “you’r not a real man” and versions there of is abusive and wrong. The use of this abusive term in television advertisements to denigrate men is unacceptable. I explained the term has been given credence by organasations that combat violence against women. The idea that men should sign a pledge, produced by women, to behave in a certain way and donate money to a woman’s charity in order to be a “real man” is totally unacceptable.

The police and court system know my ex abuser withheld correspondence from me after my escape. This action lead to my prosecution, no sanction was taken against her, and I had no legal redress. I doubt I am alone in this, these actions amount to court sanctioned abuse continuing after the relationship has ended. This needs to change.

Research shows that girls are 6 times more likely to be involved in cyber bullying, both as a perpetuator and a victim. This is interesting as the internet can be seen as a place of isolation, where actions do not affect “the real world”. This can also be the case when shutting your front door. The point was made that we always knew girls bullied girls. My point is by doing nothing when they are between the ages of 10 and 16, these girls ten years later will be abusing their partner behind closed doors. The aggressive nature needs addressed.

All of these points, and more were welcomed. I had a real feeling that I imparted some new knowledge to the people who are partly responsible developing strategy and bringing change to society. I also questioned the use of the “Hagemann White Model of factors contributing to violence against Women and Girls” in producing government policy.
That model is a cultural marxist document that states because women have been oppressed for so long in they need special measures to redress the balance. It is my case that if any group of people are oppressed in society today it is men. I point to the Lilly Allen song “Smile” and accompanying video that depicts stalking and violence toward a man. I point to Percy Sledge singing “When a man loves a woman” ………she can do no wrong, and demand he leave his friends, sleep out in the rain and only think about her wellbeing. I point to any beer advertisement you like, most make men look subservient and stupid. I point to Coronation Street running a storyline about a male victim of domestic violence and being celebrated for that. However what everyone else missed was a storyline running simultaneously. While everyone noticed Tyrone getting hit, the world missed Eileen stalking her partner, pestering him at the fire station he worked at to the point he was removed from duties. When he was returning to work, his Commander came and asked “was he allowed to come back to work”
The oppression that needs rectified does not exist.

I have also left the members a copy of two of my blog posts and one poem, Survive then Thrive in order that they see some issues I would not have time to talk about. I thanked the people for there time and interest in the issues and promised to send in a complete reply to the consultation document. This will help as they will have the correct ammunition to ask for the changes that are needed. I have no doubt this is the beginning of a long process, but it is truly a beginning.

“The more you refuse to hear my voice, the louder I will sing.”

Labi Siffre
Something inside so strong

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No Safe Haven

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I was searched by The Police a few days ago, because I do not have my own accommodation. If that sounds strange I will brake it down for you. At some time we all need to be on our own with our thoughts, that is not surprising. In fact, speak to any decent therapist and they will tell you taking time out to work through your thoughts is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. The problem is I moved out of the house I lived in with my abuser to my parents house. I am entitled to zero benefits because I work, yet I can not afford to live independently as I still have mortgage payments and debt repayments for my former life. This is something faced by most male victims of domestic abuse. So although I am eternally grateful for the support I receive from my father, my warm bed and decent food, I do at times need to be on my own.

 

Typically I do this by going to the local petrol station, buying a coffee and sitting in my car watching the world go by and working through things in my head. Last week while on one such head clearing exercise the Police arrived and asked what I was doing. I told them drinking coffee and showed them the paper cup. They asked if I did that often, I explained I had escaped a abusive relationship and sometimes needed to clear my head and as I lived with my father I sometimes come here to do that. I also stated if this was illegal they should tell the garage to erect signage to that effect. The police informed me a member of the public had reported me for suspicious behavior, possibly connected to drugs and they were going to search me. Knowing I had nothing incriminating in the car, with the exception of a large quantity of rubbish I allowed the search to continue. The reason for my car resembling a skip is I see no real reason to clean my car. It is on it’s last legs, has no functioning heater so the newspapers strewn about the car provide window cleaning equipment and nobody has been, or is likely to be in my car except me. When i get my new car, it will be clean ! The only things in the car they passed comment on was the anti depressants and the length of rope. I would have thought people trained in putting a scene together would connect the state of the car, me having nowhere else to go, the tablets, and the other item they found a rope, it would seem not. They asked what it was for, I just smiled and said “incase I need a length of rope”. I was tempted to describe it as “the only affordable escape for a male from domestic abuse” but worried that might lead to arrest.
For the record there has been no follow up from either The Police or anyone from the Health Service, this might explain at least in part the high suicide figures. Before you panic, I am not going anywhere, I intend to be around for a long time annoying Government Bodies that fail to cater for the needs of male victims of domestic abuse. 

This is just one of the effects of the government not providing shelters for male victims of domestic abuse. It definitely prolongs the recovery process. The fact it is normal for men to continue paying bills to the martial home, even if this makes them homeless is a factor in why women cope better at the end of a relationship, wether abuse was involved or not. Had I been able to avail of a place in a shelter I would not have been searched. I would not be looking strange in a petrol station trying to find my own space, as I could have stayed in my own place. This inability to move forward with your life and the real problem of homelessness is a reason why many men choose to stay in abusive relationships. They have nowhere else to go. The absence of your own place also affects the ability to socalise. Having lived in a house for 25 years where bringing friends to your house was not a option, will not lead to bringing friends to someone else’s house. 

Where a abused male chooses to move in with his parents there is a very real consequence on the parents. It may be possible for his parents to keep contact with their grandchildren. When a woman cuts her partner out of the lives of his children this contact with their Grandparents, where allowed can be the only method a father has of gaining information about his children’s lives. When a man moves into his parents house, this will inevitably mean his parents are also removed from the lives of their grandchildren. 

We, as men are robust. We as male victims of domestic abuse are very capable of fixing ourselves. We are capable of becoming stronger than we were before. We have a lot to offer society, not least the empathy created by living through a difficult experience. The pittance we gained through being put in positions where we were forced to wait. The self control we learnt by living through experiences that would cause others to lash out yet we kept our temper because it was the right thing to do. The attention to detail caused by any deviation from how “she” wanted things. These are all skills normal people do not develop. These are all skills we, male victims of domestic abuse can use for the benefit of all society. But before we do that, we need somewhere safe, somewhere private, somewhere that is ours, in which to rebuild ourselves.

 

Valentines Day

Team work is good, I have recently became part of the meme team with A Voice for Men, I am enjoying the feedback from the others, expect more of this. Hope you all have a good day, the fact I do not have to attempt to appease my ex abuser today has produced many smiles.