No Safe Haven
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.