I was initially surprised that the police offered to remove me from my home when my wife became violent toward me. They said that my children would have to remain with the perpetrator. When I asked what would happen if I were the perpetrator, they said that I would then be removed and my children would remain in the home with the victim! Heads you win! Tails I lose!
I went to the probate office of the county court where a wonderful female officer listened to me talk about my problems and helped me fill out a petition for an order of protection against my wife. The woman never told me that I would be treated differently because I was a man. The topic never came up. She was patient as I tried to get the words out.
While she was working on my case, she asked me to sit in a very large waiting room. I looked around and saw women who were filing orders of protection. I was the only man. I felt no shame. I felt pride about being strong enough to protect myself and my children.
I noticed a small room containing an office within the big waiting room. In it were a few women typing at their computer keyboards and answering phones. After a few minutes, a young woman from that small office approached me. She extended her hand and said, “I am here to help you.”
She immediately apologized for the name of her organization, Alternatives for Battered Women (ABW), saying that she and others were trying to get the name changed to properly reflect their clientele which includes men and women. She helped me that day. She sat next to me in court when I was in front of the judge. The order was granted.
Weeks later, I called ABW, saying that I wanted to learn more about their organization, and perhaps volunteer. I met with several of their representatives. First, I praised the woman who helped me in court. At the meeting, they told me that they were going to change their name and asked for my help. They told me that a large fraction of their clientele is male and lives in the suburbs, contrary to the common notion that domestic violence victims suffer at the hands of inner-city deadbeat dads.
I told them the story about the police who wanted to remove me from my home. They said that should have never happened. I told them that they might consider messaging and training for local law enforcement in order to emphasize that domestic violence is usually mutual and when it is unilateral it is twice as likely that the woman is the primary aggressor. I left the meeting with respect for the organization and optimism that their new name would acknowledge the full scope of interpersonal violence.
Ladies and gentleman, please welcome “Willow Domestic Violence Center,” one of a small but growing number of Domestic Violence shelters in the United States that openly serves both men and women:
“Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It affects women and men of all ages, income levels, cultures, religions, races, and sexual orientation—in cities, suburbs, and rural areas.
While the name Alternatives for Battered Women served a specific and important purpose to bring attention to this hidden crime – our mission and our services have evolved.
Everyone has the right to be safe.
Domestic violence is not only physical
Domestic violence is the power and control of one person over another that can be physical, psychological, emotional, verbal, sexual, and/or financial abuse.
We are here for you.
Women, men and their dependent children who are victims of physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, economic, or threatened abuse by the person with whom they live or have lived in the past are candidates for shelter.”/
Congratulate Willow on their new name (info@WillowCenterNY.org). Praise them as being pioneers. Donate to them to show your support.
Let’s hope that other IPV organizations follow suit.