Domestic Abuse Myths Series: The need to end the marginalisation of male victims
Over the next week, I will be debunking a number of domestic abuse myths which are being used to marginalise the voices and recognition of male victims of domestic abuse.
The charity’s view is clear: domestic abuse is multi-dimensional. It happens to people of all genders, races and sexualities – it should therefore be defined as a crime. It not a gendered crime – which is an ideological position that is not borne of the facts and has no place in today’s society if we want equality of support for all victims based on need.
These myths are both powerful and dangerous as their use and acceptance leads to the marginalisation of support and recognition of male victims – in heterosexual and same sex relationships and also for female victims in same-sex relationships.
This marginalisation leads to:
- The development and execution of public policy that only supports female victims and male perpetrators.
- Public awareness campaigns that frame this issue only as female victims where a man is the perpetrator.
- The lack of services on the ground to support men – either the extension of existing services or the creation of new ones. For instance there are huge swathes of the UK with no safe house/refuge provision for males and their children.
- The lack of self awareness for men who are suffering that they are a domestic abuse victim, the lack of knowledge of what they can do to escape and that they will be believed. Without any public information campaigns including males. Men who are suffering domestic abuse are not able to identify as a victim, have no knowledge of what they can do to escape and cannot be confident that they will be believed.
- The lack of societal recognition so that the overwhelming view is that only women are victims so society does not recognise the signs in a man, and at the extreme end, think it is funny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3PgH86OyEM
The reason this happens is that understandably the media (who are under a lot of pressure) and also service providers wanting to put information in the public domain (councils, police forces, etc) will take statistics that are commonly used and accept them as a fact. Especially if they think the sources are credible. That is why it is necessary to ensure that the real facts are in the public domain.
It has been shown by leading academics in the UK that, in relationships where domestic abuse is occurring, it is mainly mutual (they are both committing it against one another) and according to that research where there is a primary aggressor, it is likely to be a woman and the victim a man. This is not shown in the British Crime Survey because that is anonymous survey, and men routinely under-report or do not recognise or want to admit they are a victim. When this research is published, such as Testing Predictions, this research has not been actively challenged.
The challenges here will be based on the British Crime Survey (the Office for National Statistics standard) which helpfully also uses both domestic abuse and partner abuse (a subset of domestic abuse). This series will try and use both and the partner abuse figures are more powerful as they show the abuse between adults in an intimate relationship whereas domestic abuse statistics include family members.
In the Busting the Myth series, this will cover the following damaging myths:
#1: 89% of four or more incidents of domestic abuse are women.
#2: The majority of male victims are gay
#3: Services are being taking away from female victims and given to men
#4: Domestic abuse is overwhelmingly committed against women by men
#5: Domestic violence is the biggest killer of women under 40 in the world
#6: Two women are killed each week but no mention of the male figure
#7 Woman are three times more likely to be arrested than a man
#8: Women suffer 35 or more incidents of domestic abuse before getting help
This should provide support to those who are campaigning for recognition of male victims, to ensure all victims are supported. At its core, the charity uses the British Crime Survey statistics through its “25 Key Facts_Feb 2014 (final)” and this busting the Myths series will help to overlay them.
We should concentrate on people and individuals, not, on gender.