Meeting the First Minister of Northern Ireland
It is strange what comes into your mind and when. I was sitting in a waiting room for a important meeting, I was attempting to gather my thoughts about what I would say and what was returning to my thoughts was being met at the back door of my old house and being greeted with a “sniff test”.
This was a process where I was made to stand still while my ex sniffed my hands, face and clothing of incriminating scents. Things like tobacco smoke, food scents like hamburgers, chewing gum was also taboo due to its masking agents. Obviously perfume was a major problem, as was aftershave for the same reason as chewing gum. I remember standing perfectly still, opening my mouth on demand whale this deranged human blood hound sniffed me. The last time that happened was under two years ago.
Then my name was called and I was shaking hands with Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. The reason ? to discuss the lack of provision of services for people that are so controlled being searched and sniffed on arrival home from work seems reasonable. That is a major turn around in anybody’s book, a personal journey I could not have made without the help and support I have received and I thank every one of you.
I began by explaining briefly how I had come from being hit on my wedding day to sitting in a chair opposite the First Minister. I explained the reasons that held men in abusive relationships. The unfair family court system that meant not only do men have to leave their children with a abusive person but can be cut out of there child’s life on the whim of their abuser. The absence of shelters meaning homelessness is a reality for men leaving. Peter for his part was unaware that there was a total absence of shelters for men and services amounted to counseling provided by the Mens Advisory Project. However why would he know this ? shelters and services for men are something you only look for if you need one. I stated that divorce law is set up for two reasonable people to work out how they both move forward, but if someone has been unreasonable during a marriage, why would the suddenly become reasonable during divorce.
Peter said he believed Female Abuse of Males would be under reported, I explained one of the reasons was the tendency of Police Services to see a incident and automatically believe the woman had been attacked. Couple that with a absence of services and people stay quiet, or increasingly find escape at the end of a rope.
I found Peter to be very receptive and interested in the issues. He has given me a undertaking he will look at the Domestic Abuse Consultation Document, he agrees shelters and services are required. Peter has also agreed to help with another matter that needs to remain confidential for the time being, I will ring you this news when the time is right.
To conclude, we at Men’s Rights Northern Ireland believe this was a very positive meeting. One in which the issues and challenges facing men today were taken very seriously. We have created awareness at the highest levels of Government in Northern Ireland. We look forward to seeing the positive results this will produce and we have also made progress toward our next objective. All in all, a very good day for Men in Northern Ireland.