I’ve known Richard for around six months or so and recall that he’d mentioned that his ex-partner had been abusive, but otherwise he hadn’t spoken about it to any great extent. So I was aware, somewhat vaguely, that there had been some unhappiness in his life but nothing had prepared me for what I was about to hear at an MRA London meeting in the Southbank Centre on a winter’s day in 2013. James Williams was there to discuss his Men’s Matters radio show with us and, having brought a digital recorder, asked if anyone had anything to say that he could use in his show. It was clear the moment Richard began speaking that this was going to be something very special, and it quickly turned into an impromptu interview.
What follows are the highlights of that interview which are also intended for broadcast on Express FM Radio. In all likelihood, however, some comments may be cut from the broadcast version for being too graphic. So what you have here is the original uncensored version.
Around the same time as Richard’s interview, I coincidentally received an email from Erin Pizzey with an attached scan of an article that had appeared in the Metro newspaper and featured the official government statistic that some 1.2 million women and 0.8 million men experience domestic violence each year. The article concluded with a canned Home Office response to this news, that: “Violence against women and girls is an abhorrent crime and the government is committed to ending it.”
In her email, Erin exclaimed unhappily…
What happens to abused men seems to be of no importance. I can weep—it is as if men don’t bleed or suffer.
She is right of course. No one seems to care about adult men.
Much of the literature produced in the field of domestic abuse quote female victim statistics only, while completely omitting figures for males, thus perpetrating the myth that the problem only applies to women and that only men are perpetrators. For example, the Women’s Aid UK website repeatedly states that the majority of abusers are men while providing no figures pertaining to mail victims. This crude negative stereotyping of men as aggressors and women as victims has no doubt obscured men’s suffering from society’s view.
My own digging into official domestic violence statistics had previously led me to the British Crime Survey (BCS) for 2011 which had found that 5% of men and 7% of women had experienced domestic abuse in the year prior to the survey. It also found that 3% of men and 4% of women reported that they had experienced stalking in the previous year. However, men are much less likely than women to tell others about what they have suffered—not surprising when men attempting to report violent assaults against them can expect to face disbelief, ridicule and counter allegations. Only 10% of men would actually tell the police in the UK, three times less than women.
While the well founded fear and stigma that prevents men from coming forward to report their suffering remains, the true picture of domestic violence will always be incomplete.
Dr Tara J. Palmatier of Shrink4Men.com has this to say on the double standards that not only pervade our government departments and NGOs, but our wider cultural values also…
Abusive men are publicly humiliated, vilified and often imprisoned for their violent behavior. When a woman is abusive, we advise her male target that she’s just emotional, she was abused as child, so he needs to be patient and sensitive to her feelings and stick with her no matter the personal cost.
When the scales of cultural bullshit first dropped from my own eyes, I found just how blind I had been quite disturbing to me. And the world could never be the same again.
Here’s an example.
The following short video is of ITN News coverage of how Claire Holley, on learning that her boyfriend was leaving her, stole his car and, after drinking a bottle of whiskey, drove it at high speed through a plate glass window into the foyer of the bowling alley where he worked.
VIDEO: ITN News – Claire Holley Smashes Car into Bowling Alley
There was a time, not too long ago, that I would have been oblivious to the deplorable prejudice on display in the this shoddy piece of journalism. Rather than seeing this woman as a disgustingly violent and dangerous attacker, like most people, I imagine that I may have been hoodwinked by the reporter’s narrative that here was a poor “heartbroken” woman—a “woman scorned” (the implication being that her boyfriend probably deserved it). It’s also a narrative that the justice system also appears to have swallowed along with the sink from her kitchen—she wasn’t convicted of car theft, drinking driving or attempted murder, but only of dangerous driving for which she received a suspended sentence. (If the foyer of the bowling alley had been packed with families and children, there would have been carnage.)
None of this is intended to paint a picture—much like the one often painted of men but the other way round—that women in general are violent and abusive. Rather its about the honest realisation that women, like men, are unique individuals who display a spectrum of human qualities and flaws, from good to bad. Crudely stereotyping half the human race as abusers according to an ideology born out of prejudice and hate will not lead to a better world, but simply denies decent people like Richard assistance, compassion and justice. It also puts us all on a dangerous precipice; we like to think that we have consigned ideological dogma to the past. We haven’t. Wake up!
Everything I’ve learned about Richard makes me respect and admire him, and it’s a privilege to know him. In fact, I’ve come to develop a very special degree of friendship and trust for my friends within MRA London and the wider Men’s Human Rights Movement. There is a time in everyone’s life when it becomes important to stand up for what we really believe—not for money, approval, prestige or ego, but for what really matters. For me, that time is here and now.
News update. MRA London are working with James Williams to develop Men’s Matters radio and to bring the programme to a world-wide audience by putting it fully online. We are also working to establish a male support meeting also to be known as “Men’s Matters” and associated with the radio programme. More on this soon.
1. Women’s Aid website. Topic: Domestic violence (general). Link: http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic_violence_topic.asp?section=0001000100220041
2. ManKind Initiative, 21 key facts about male victims. Link: http://www.mankind.org.uk/pdfs/21%20Key%20Facts_Feb%202012.pdf
3. Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence. Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11. Page 88. Link: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/hosb0212/hosb0212?view=Binary
4. Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence. Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11. Page 96. Link: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/hosb0212/hosb0212?view=Binary