Random encounters in the sea of pain

I remember the first email I got about men’s issues. It was a man pouring out his story of grief as he told me how he came home one day to find his wife of 7 years or so to have left with most of the family possessions and leaving a note telling him that she was gone and never coming back and oh, by the way, the child he had spent years raising was another man’s child and not his own.

This had been a private response to a public message I had posted in something called the SFRT group on the old GEnie network, where a bunch of people had been talking about the “backlash against feminism” and women’s oppression, and I had tried to speak about men’s issues, only to face scorn and derision and deep contempt for having the audacity to question anything regarding women’s behavior.

That was, what, 25 years ago? I count it as the moment of my awakening that there was a very serious problem. I’d had arguments with feminists and others in the past about various issues, but it was all intellectual. I thought there was just some mild cognitive dissonance that we could fix by reasoning with people and making a few adjustments. But it was here I think that I realized that men were afraid to speak. I was being bullied by a bunch of men and women in public for daring to suggest that I believed in equality but that what some feminists were saying wasn’t fair or right at all. I was kicked around just for saying “I support feminism, BUT.” They hated me just for that. Meanwhile, another guy felt so afraid to speak up he had to write me privately about it–me, a stranger, someone I’d never heard from before and haven’t heard from since. Afraid to speak in public of the way he was raped psychologically and financially, because he knew he’d only get abuse if he talked about it.

Since then, in decades of writing and activism online and off I have heard so many stories. Most recently I had a friend tell me he was thinking about breaking it off with his girlfriend because they were arguing a lot and he thought she was taking advantage of him and his generosity in giving her a place to stay and not demanding she pay her fair share of the bills. I told him “don’t let that girl get herself pregnant.” He looked at me like I’d said something shocking and ugly. He said she wouldn’t do that. I told him not only could she do that, but many women do, and he could even wind up losing his house and in debtor’s prison if he didn’t watch his back, and that she would have 100% of the power in the relationship if that happened. He told me that was a “myth.”

When she turned up pregnant, he claimed it was his fault since he should have worn a condom (never mind that those aren’t reliable and he won’t hold her accountable for lying about taking her birth control pills). Anyway, he thinks it’s going to work out OK between them. I hope they do, but I know he has only a glimmer of what can happen if it doesn’t: not just a broken heart and possible loss of a child he already loves, but loss of his house and possibly even jail await. He doesn’t believe me. Not yet anyway.

Another friend of mine has been in a crippling depression because some years ago his wife declared herself a lesbian. He’d decided it was a “phase” and eventually she would get over it and come back to him. And what do you know? She did come back. For a few years. Until he found the texts on her phone recently telling her girlfriend she hated having sex with him and found him disgusting and was only staying with him because she needed his money. He tells me no one can possibly understand, nobody’s ever experienced something so cold and hateful and awful.

To be honest, I can only listen with half an ear.

I’ve got another friend who even now struggles to get by every week and who uses various ways of hiding his ID in case the police find him; he owes back child support to an ex- who also got pregnant as a way to keep him; she’d lied and said she was on birth control after he said he wanted out and was leaving her. He’s a father now of a child he loves but never wanted, and she wants him in jail for not giving her enough money. Mind you, I didn’t say some money: he’s always given her whatever he could, but she wants more and wants him in jail for not coughing it up on-demand, never mind that he’s in a profession where work is sporadic and where no minimum-wage job will supply him enough to pay her what she wants let alone support himself. He has to keep his car in someone else’s name and run furtively afraid of being pulled over by the police as he runs around trying to find various temp jobs just to pay off her and Friend of the Court.

I’ve got a fourth friend who got lucky. His violent and abusive ex-wife abandoned him and his child. She used to beat and abuse them both. He’s physically handicapped and has to scramble just to keep him and his daughter’s noses above water financially, and lives in constant terror that his ex- will show back up and try to take his daughter. He refuses to even read AVfM, says he thinks feminism is what we need more of, and anyway, we should stop being rude about all this stuff.

These last four are just guys I know. None of them are very interested in the Men’s Human Rights Movement. They think their situations are rare, or unique, and anyway, we should never be loud rude or abrasive about any of this. It’s hard not on occasion not to grab them and shake them until their teeth rattle.

It must be that I’m just massively unlucky to know so many guys in these situations, right? I got a fifth friend who was raped by envelopment as a teenager–it’s how he lost his virginity. No one he knew thought there was anything wrong with that. They told him he “got lucky.” They laughed at his discomfort. He’s been nervous about women and sex his whole life since then.

But none of these stories could be commonplace, could they? Anyway, most of these guys must have been asking for it in some way or another, right?

I’ve got other stories I won’t even tell you from my personal life. But I think I’ve made my point. What about outside my personal life?

Now that I’m open and out as a member of the movement, damn never every day I hear from someone. I’ll get a YouTube message from a guy showing me video of how his ex-girlfriend is not only slapping him around when he’s nearby, but in the habit of holding their infant child like a shield while she does it. If he defends himself he might hurt the kid and either way would go to jail. I tell him this and tell him he and his child’s only hope is to document and get the hell out of there. He doesn’t want to hear it, he wants me to magically fix it somehow.

Just in my recent inbox, I’ve gotten a few emails like the below (names and emails removed):

Message: My name is ******, I am in the US airforce and am an A1C. I have been accused of rape by a military female because after a one night stand I blew her off and refused to date her. Now she is saying she was too drunk to consent (she is underage and her intoxication level was low to moderate, no where near incapacitated). The stress of this thing and the fact that my mom and brother are victims of rape pushed me to the edge, my friend pulled me back but now im scared ill get to the line again and no one will pick up the phone…
I dont have faith in the military justice system and im scared the decision on me will be made political because of the DoD’s push on sexual assault.
im scared and not sure what to do with the stress. I have no one to talk to and im alone.

And another:

Is there any place that I can go to, to help my son out.  We had all the proof that he did not rape the girl, but the Judge and DA had him crucified before he was even sentenced.  He got 3 1/2 yrs for the girl lying.

And another, a long one:

I am a father currently residing in Australia since 2005. I came over here to marry a Australian women who I thought was a decent person.

I came over here on a visitors visa, but was assured by the now wife all would be right. She will help sort it out later. Well, a few months passed and I sought to get my paperwork in order. I filled out all the forms and hers, got statutory declarations and much more to help. Still, the wife made excuses when all she merely had to do was sign it. Then around a year into being here, she started to be abusive. It started off me thinking it was just in my head. Women do not abuse people I thought to myself. I was wrong. She refuse to have a joint account to allow me to use what funds we had. She refuse to allow any bills in my name or let me be apart of the balancing of what funds she made. The wife refuse to allow me any say in anything. If I was allowed the off chance to use her debt card I would be required to give a receipt. The wife would knowing she held the power to keep me here legally by signing, would mock and belittle me for not working. Would call me lazy and worthless when she had the power to change that. I was made to clean and do chores which I did as I felt bad for not being allowed to work so I had to do my part. Well, even when I did chores I would be told I did it wrong or mocked for the chores I did not do.

After a year and about six months or so I had plans on just leaving as she clearly was insane. She drink like 8-10 beers a night mind you the whole time and still does if not more. Complete drunk. Until she told me she was pregeant with our child in 2007. My fate was sealed. I was determined to stay to make sure our child was raised by one decent parent. I do not drink, smoke, do drugs or anything else. I am pretty boring. I served around nearly 10 years in the Armed Forces. I assumed things would get better now she was near due to give birth. I was so wrong, they got worse. Around 3 months before she was due I moved to the couch because I woke up a few nights like a MAC truck just hit me. The wife had attacked me in my sleep. I thought ok, female hormone issues or whatever….fine. I moved to the couch to assume to give her room.

The couch was my place to sleep until she left with the child on Nov 9th 2012. When the child was born the wife stayed off work for a month or so but was back to work. Raising the child fell on me. I was the one that was 99% of the time getting up at night feeding and changing him. I was the one who feed him and bathed him. I was the one who taught him to talk (first words were daddy), to walk, to read, to write and much more. Our child took walks everyday around the blocks and/or to the parks. We went to the local library to get books and dvds. We would go fishing and I would be the one who raised him totally. The wife would spend her nights after work sitting outside in the patio drinking and smoking until midnight, eat and then go to bed. On weekends she would go to friends or family to drink or do activites without the child and I.

I was never allowed to have any car in my name or money without asking her permission. When her mother pasted away and left her money the wife spent most of it on herself to events like renting a house boat, going deep sea fishing, going to football games and more. All the time the child and I was left at home. In this time my wife was spending this extra money she was also cheating on me with a coworker who lived in Ballarat, Victoria. In that time she made trips to that town which was around 5 hours drive away each or every other weekend that year.

Her abuse also increased as she was openly attacking me on the couch at night while I tried to sleep when she alllowed it. Keep in mind that our child loved sleeping near me even after three years old when he had his own bed. He would always find his way to my side at night. Even when I would go to lengths to put him back in bed. The wife would attack me in front of the child, she has even threaten to kill herself and cut my throat as a slept. All in front of our child. She would mock and belittle me in front of him. I even records alot of this as well. I tried to inform her mother before she pasted away, who in turn had no answer for me. I tried to get help from a online call in called PANDA who took my report but could only offer useless information. If I was a women there was plenty of services, but since I was a man Victoria offers no help for targets of DV and family violence. I was left alone. Her family and friends would not listen, no one would listen to my cry for help.

Then around Sept 2012 the wife quit her job with no mention of what we would do for money. I had no idea if she spent what her mother left her either. On November 9th 2012 around 9am she starting putting a few items in the car and said she was going to her sisters in Melbourne to see her and bring her mothers ashes to be released for December. I told her I felt she was lying as that was a full month away to be going early was suspect to me. I was assured over and over as she packed the child in the car…she was only going to be gone for 3-4 days. That was the last time I was his father. From then on I became non-important. I was forced to miss Christmas eve/day with our son, his 5th birthday 2 days later. News Year eve/day and even his 1st day of school which I was not allowed to decide on. I am never allowed to decide anything. After 2 months I was tossed on the street to fend for myself in a foreign land where after 8 years I was unlawful to be in. I had to beg for shelter any place I could get. I had to beg for food to the point I was starved out and lost 30-40 lbs. Meanwhile my wife had the child free and clear simply by driving off with him and withholding him for months at her boyfriends.

The courts simply do not care what she has done or still does. I am graced with 1 call a night at the mothers whim. I am only allowed 8 hours a month that the child lawyer who I thought was independent decided 8 hours a month was enough time for one parent. They only make orders that benefit the mother at all times. They make orders for me even though they know I am forced poverty, no house, no car, no job. They do not care she is the one who tossed me into a spiral of pure hell.

Keep in mind the Department of immigration and Citizenship are also on me with trying to decide if they will toss me out of this country even though I was the one who pleaded for the wife for years to sign, I am the one being pursued. I have pleaded to the Minister for help but had 3 in the last 6 months come and go. My heart cannot take anymore of this. My son deserves me back in his life and not merely 8 hours a month. My son is slowly breaking away from me from this women who from the day she decided he was only hers….is now bent on destroying what relationship we have left. She allows her boyfriend to abuse me on the phone with the child. She is allowed to keep both cars. She is allowed to withhold information in her court case which I filed for parenting orders. She does as she pleases and has disregarded me as a parent. I am sure you get alot of pleads but you have to take my story, my son cannot speak out for himself he is 5 years old. No one will listen to me and I cannot take much more of this nonstop abuse. Please get back with me if this can be brought to the US attention as my child is a American as well. He is a dual citizen and deserves all the rights and liberities as our founders fought so hard for. Please for the love of my son, please help me or give me some advice.

Practically every day, something like this comes my way. I get messages from people telling me they know a guy who’s suicidal and they want my help. They’ve been thrown out of their homes and lost their children and are sleeping on a friend’s sofa. They or someone they care about has been falsly accused. And they all want to know what I can do to help.

You have no idea how much some days I want to cut my ties with AVfM, cut my ties with the movement, change my name, and go back to playing video games just so I can squelch the cries of pain and anguish that are part of my everyday existence. Or how much I want to tell my Blue Pill friends to shut up and just take their fucking because they think they’re unique and there can be no widespread systemic problem against men and boys, or that being nice and using calm reason will fix all this.

Or that feminism will fix it.

Or that “if this country would just get back to traditional values” that would fix it. Yeah, because getting back to “traditional values,” whatever those are, will get that kid out of jail or that child his father back or that female sex predator put in jail.

Or Jessica Valenti and Amanda Marcotte will fix it for us, if we just let them.

And you know what I also get? Letters like this:

I’m interested in becoming a financial sponsor of the MHRM.

I have considered making Paypal donations, however, I would rather provide finance towards specific projects, as opposed to general donations to AVFM.

Do people not get that there is a society wide, culture-wide, systemic problem? Do they not understand that raising awareness and changing the culture are a necessary part of getting anything changed? No, apparently they do not. And they even think that if we fix their personal issue but no one else’s, why somehow that will change the world.

What do I say to the people who are genuinely suffering in pain and want help? I can send them kind words, but have to give them the bitter news that there are almost no resources to help them. Maybe join our AVfM forum and seek some emotional support and advice there. But what else? Can I give a list of decent attorneys? I don’t have any, and in my years of experience what I’ve seen is 99 out of 100 attorneys are useless on these matters, some outright harmful. And if you can’t afford an attorney in the first place? Get ready for to get fucked over good and hard, with the solace that maybe you’ll be better off than the person who had the attorney, since the person who had the attorney probably got financially raped by the attorney and still got raped by the system and society, whereas without the attorney you may only get raped by society and the system.

The only thing I know that will help is changing society. It’s the only thing I know to do, and it’s the only thing I know how to do: raise awareness, shock people into recognition of the problem, make them aware of what’s going on, make them demand change, pick individual politicians to go after for those who’ve got the ability to help us identify those politicians and give us the resources to do it–and to, for God’s sake, get everyone to start giving a damn about men and boys as if they are human beings worthy of our help our sympathy and compassion.

Here’s the rude thing I so often want to say to these people: “You should have listened all these years instead of blowing us off.”

But here’s what I try to say: I can’t fix it by myself. But you can help. The solution is changing people’s minds, changing their attitudes, and forcing the general society at large to acknowledge the issues. There is an absolute sea of pain and injustice and horror out there, and if more people aren’t made aware of it, and more people don’t have the guts to step forward and say something, if more politicians and community leaders and members of the mainstream media aren’t made aware, forced to be aware, and forced to respond, nothing in the long run can or will change for you or anyone else. So you can either make yourself into a weapon, and join the fight, or, you can sit quietly and take your fucking, because I have no magic solution for you. I put in 60-100 hours a week on this, giving up substantial income I could be making doing something else, because I give a damn about people like you and your problems. But I am one man. So when are you going to start giving a damn about other people in your shoes, and do something about it yourself?”

We’re having a fundraising drive. Why? So we can keep doing what we’re doing, which is protesting, lobbying politicians for change, pissing of the feminist establishment, pissing off the “conservative” establishment that talks a good game but does nothing but shame men for not “manning up,” pissing off judges, pissing off mainstream media, pissing off academics, raising awareness, raising hell. It’s what we do here.

Because what we’ve found in decades of doing this kind of work is that nothing has or ever will get better until we start raising hell.

That’s why we work to Fuck the establishment’s Shit Up. Because being nice didn’t work. Screaming at the top of our lungs has been the only thing to get attention in the popular culture and the mainstream press and in the universities. And we need your voice to add to the scream–and if you can, to help us with your dollars to amplify that scream.

If not us, who? If not now, when?

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