Fatherhood

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

Whilst I recall my younger years I can remember always wanting to be a father. Admittedly, life didn’t always go to plan and I had found myself over time being a young father, an old father, an adopted father and a step father at various points in my life. Like most parents, I could say that although these roles had been rewarding they had also been difficult and often demanding.

Common thread

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

When I set out to write about fatherhood it took a great deal of time and consideration to identify a common thread. Like mother’s there are fathers of whom are; natural, adopted, step, young, old, disabled, fit and so on. However, I have heard it said a number of times that fathers are a biological necessity, but a social accident. This train of thought was certainly present during the 20th century and most evident during the 21st. Unfortunately, this idea of fatherhood has seeped into our culture and many sections of society have both conformed and adopted this stance.

C. Passingham (Lone Fathers – One Parent Families. Pg 35 – 1975) described how important paid employment was to a mans self-respect. This was not just based on the fact that fathers could earn more and felt that poverty was as much a threat to children as was ‘inadequate’ parenting. But ‘providing’ during this period was what was expected of men.

Useless and inept?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

During my lifetime it has appeared that fathers have been portrayed as being uninvolved with the daily routines of childcare. It has been implied that the father was useless with the changing of nappies or hopeless at warming a bottle in readiness for a feed. This has re-enforced the idea that child rearing has, and always was, a female role. The mans role, as a result was to provide material and moral support to the mother and to be the breadwinner. Therefore, as being an inactive participant in the rearing of the children the father did indeed become the social accident. My own experiences of my fathers’ was varied and mixed. My adopted father was kind and loving but I don’t recall him dressing me or collecting me from school. In fact, he rarely cooked a meal but he had a positive effect on me – he was a good father. Whereas, my natural father was able to play a role that soon fizzled out when his true character emerged (I found him when I was 40) and as a father he was utterly useless – he was not there from the outset and failed to make any positive efforts when I found him.

Stereotype

I strongly doubt that this stereotypical view of fatherhood ever actually existed. Many historians (namely; Stearns, “Fatherhood in Historical Perspective: The Role of Social Change” and R.D. Parke, “ Fatherhood and Families in Cultural Context) have both argued that this portrait of the uninvolved father is, at best, oversimplified and at worst utterly wrong. I am both sure and confident when I say that there has never been, and is not, one single type of father. Indeed, I accept that there are some fathers (like some mothers) who wish to remain uninvolved. But equally there have been fathers who have played an active and positive role in childrearing. It is also now accepted that some fathers do it alone. Like myself I raised my two sons alone for many years. I know I was seen, at the time, as the exception and not the norm. As a result access to resources and support for lone fathers during that period (1990s) was both difficult and limited. The joy of watching my children grow up was immeasurable but it was difficult when trying to integrate in a woman only monopoly of parenthood. I recall being once asked to leave a ‘mother and toddler’ group, because, as it said, it was for mothers. Although I am now aware that times have changed there is still an artificial atmosphere of questioning a fathers ability to raise his children.

Economic reasons

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

By todays standards, either due to economic necessity or for personal fulfilment many mothers are now opting to work. And it isn’t just for part-time, low level income roles. Many mothers are successfully taking on professional full time positions. As a result, it has also become far more evident that many fathers are also taking on more and more responsibilities for early infant and child care duties. In fact I consider that for some people it is essential to have two wage earners to maintain a certain standard of lifestyle once children arrive.

Today, the idea of the nuclear family has lost its meaning. More and more people are moving away from their home towns and setting up new homes miles away from other family members. As a result, the historical duties of grandmothers, aunts and so on who very often took on the caring role, are becoming more diluted and gradually unrecognisable. The roles of these women have changed and there is no longer an assumption that they will be ‘there’ when you need them. People are working well into their retirement and so as a result more and more is expected from fathers and (even) grandfathers. It is not, in my opinion that fathers have been forced to do the parenting against their will, it is just that there is now more of an opportunity of which fathers are willing to grasp.

Other factors

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

Parenting is not performed in isolation. It is intimately linked with all other aspects of everyday life. The social, economic, cultural and religious backgrounds often prevail in relation to family structures. Issues such as housing, poverty, health and employment play in conditioning a parents’ ability to nurture. Clearly these factors are equally true for both mothers and fathers and so require an even and equal response regardless of gender. But a parents’ love is unconditional, yet many fathers have to live with the threat of not seeing their children on the whim of the mother. This is re-enforced and promoted by a set of outdated and wrong research findings that have infiltrated and tainted the role and importance of the father.

An active role (model)

The concept of fatherhood within my lifetime has seen a root and branch reform. During the 1970s any ideology associated with fatherhood was often connected to them either being a shadowy figure or a hapless no hoper who was ridiculed and seen as a comical figure amongst the ‘carry-on’ generation. But the new generation are (rightly) encouraged to be present at childbirth classes with his partner, attend the delivery and take responsibility for the care and feeding of the growing child on equal measure to the mother. Indeed, no longer is a father to be considered as a social accident but as a positive and active role model.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

However, and this really makes my blood boil, once the relationship is over between the parents the father is instantly labelled as useless, unhelpful, inept and incapable of doing what a ‘mother can do’. This is certainly the case when a new ‘father-figure’ steps into the family home to replace the natural father, who until that point more than likely, had a more active role – often dictated by the mother of whom the children automatically live with. Indeed, it is important to readdress and correct earlier myths about fatherhood and it must now be recognised that fathers really are having an active involvement with their children. Not through expectation but because we want to. It is impossible to conceivably argue that a father is good one moment and not the next based on a falling out with the mother.

Evolution not revolution

With modern developments and changing roles of mothers it may be worth considering the fact that the ‘new’ father is a product of evolution as apposed to revolution. The role of a father needs to be reassessed in the face of outdated and often incompatible social expectations. However, despite the slow rate of change and acceptance it is now clear that fathers can and do play an important role in the development of their children.

It appears that psychological research has often ignored the role of fathers. One argument for this was that the social theories of parenting roles at the time had deeply penetrated the theories attached to parenthood. Theories can just be seen as the way the world works. But theories constrain the idea of concepts and notions. As a consequence early researchers had not just forgotten about fathers, they were completely ignored because they were considered to be less important than mothers. And so, the dominant (and wrong) theories were left to develop and fester unchallenged or addressed for decades.  The two main protagonists within this field was Sigmund Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) and John Bowlby (26 February 1907 – 2 September 1990).

An utterley flawed theory

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

Both Freud and Bowlby may have differed in their approach and views on fatherhood but they both came to the same conclusion – mothers were the most important figures during infancy. In Bowlby’s paper entitled ‘The Nature of the Child’s Ties to his Mother’, he argued that maternal deprivation led to infants and children failing to adequately develop. Unfortunately, this view was also sanctioned by other theorists such as Rene Spitz and Margaret Ribble in ‘The Rights of Infants ‘- 1943. Bowlby’s later works pushed this concept further when he discussed attachment theories, which stated that infants come to prefer specific adults, namely the mother. His thoughts and considerations were based on the idea that a mother is biologically equipped to respond to an infant’s needs. As a result, Bowlby left the fathers out of the essential equation when it came to child rearing. Fathers, therefore, were seen as secondary and only required as a provider of the mothers needs.

In fact, Bawlby and his research in my opinion, were and are deeply flawed and as a result threw a spanner in the fatherhood works (so to speak). The paper was certainly used for political purposes to claim any separation from the mother was harmful. It was also intended to discourage women from working and leaving their children in day-care. The government at the time, were concerned about maximising employment for returned and returning servicemen after the Second World War. In 1962 The World Health Organisation (WHO) published ‘Deprivation of Maternal Care: A Reassessment of its Effects’ to which Mary Ainsworth, Bowlby’s close colleague, contributed with his approval, to present the recent research and developments and to address misapprehensions. This publication also attempted to address the previous lack of evidence on the effects of paternal deprivation.

This narrow (and in my opinion, wrong) view of parenting came to dominate Western cultures. However, a small group of cultures divide the role of child rearing equally. For example, the Trobrianders of Melanesia and the Aka Pygmies of Africa (to name just two examples) have adopted this equal sharing role.  As a result, it would be fair to argue that the biological argument of parenting does not stand up to scrutiny. Animal studies have also shown that parenting is not just a female privilege. Marmosets and Tamarin monkeys are well known for playing a very active role of parenting from an early age. This is also seen in other monkey specimens such as Barbary Macaques of Asia and Rhesus monkeys (mainly native to South, Central and Southeast Asia).

A reason to exclude

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

In the space of forty years or so the acceptance of fatherhood has moved from being inept and incapable to one whereby there is no reason to exclude. This is evident when today the father can be in the delivery suite whereas before, they only saw their new born behind a glass screen. This new approach, of course, flies in the still present (and convenient view for some) view that men are aggressors and violent and the mother is always soft and caring. Men, or to be specific, fathers, are not dangerous and incapable of rearing a child. In fact, the historical exclusion ensured that fathers were kept at an unjustifiable distance to feed a flawed research paper.

In 1982 J.H. Pleck in Husbands and Wives: Paid Work, Family Work and Adjustment, carried out research based on mothers attitudes to fathers. Interestingly it discovered that mothers did not want their husbands to be more involved with their children than they were. At the same time of this publication it was suggested that about 40% of fathers indicated that they would have liked to spend more time with their children than they were currently able to do so. Indeed, it has been suggested by social theorist such as M.E Lamb in ‘The changing role of fathers’ when he stated that it was the mothers who played a gatekeeping role by either supporting or inhibiting a fathers’ involvement with their children.

Break-ups

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

For me to draw up an accurate number with regards to relationship breakdowns, I can only consider divorce rates. Co-habiting couples, by their very nature are difficult to assess and so as a result the figures of actual relationship breakdowns may be much higher than actually recorded. However, it cannot be denied that divorce rates are increasing. According to C. Sorrentino, ‘The Changing Family in International Perspective’, 1990, the divorce rate in the USA doubled between 1960 and 1986 and half of all marriages today will end in divorce. In the UK the rates of marital break-ups have increased six fold (with 62% of second marriages also failing).  Unfortunately, 60% of US divorces and 75% in the UK involve children. However, the final act of divorce may be the end of a disruptive line of events that not only disrupts the family home but can also have an impact upon the children.

Due to erroneous studies carried out by Bowlby et al, the children tend to be left in the physical care of the mother by default. As a result, many of the researches carried out about the effects on children following a divorce will and have been influenced by the mother. Moreover, as a result, many fathers contact with their children decreases over time. A mother will always be a mother yet an absent father seems to hold the title of ‘father’ by a licence allowed by the mother -ie if he remains in the relationship or if the mother allows access. The pain of not seeing a child is like mourning a death without a body or grave and this pain is often unbearable. It is not simply indifference or lack of interest on the part of fathers that accounts for a diminishing visitation pattern. The custodial parent’s attitude is often a factor. Between 25 and 50% of mother may interfere with or make visitation more difficult. Just as we have seen in ‘stable’ relationships, the mothers are often seen as the gatekeepers in deciding the role of the father. As I have seen in so many cases the mother often decided to move on and sees the biological father as an inconvenience to their new plans. This results in a plan to keep the father at an uncompromised distance.

An exception, not the rule

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

On rare occasions fathers do gain residential custody of their children. This of course is the exception and not the rule and is only granted when the mother is proven to be unfit. The term of the ‘best interest’ of the child is nothing more than lip service and there is a generalisation that the child will always live better with the mother unless proven otherwise. However, I would like you to consider the legal opinion from a New York Judge in the Levine v Levine case (pg45 of the transcript) in the 1970s;

The simple fact of being a mother does not by itself indicate a capacity or willingness to render a quality of care different from that which a father can provide… the best interest of the child doctrine [is] out of touch with contemporary thought about child development and male and female stereotypes.

For those fathers who gained custody it is often found that they are both older and come from a more secure financial back ground than their other male counterparts. J. Haskey (One Parent Families and their Dependent Children in Great Britain – 1998) pointed out that lone fathers tend to be older than lone mothers. The peak age for lone mothers sits in the early 30s range whereas lone fathers are found to be in their early 40s. This may be due to a majority of fathers finding themselves to be widowers or divorcees.

Access beyond poverty

The loss of legal aid for family matters is certainly a contributory factor to fathers being excluded from the equal parenting role. In effect state sponsored poverty may in fact be an aspect for paternal alienation. By putting the financial issue aside, the increasing role of the single father flies in the face of the bubbling idiot who has no idea what to do. In fact, many lone fathers are seen as hero like unlike single mothers who are expected to be able to carry out such duties. And this is wrong. Interestingly, a study carried out by Alison Clarke-Stewart and Craig Hayward (Advantages of Father Custody and Contact for the Psychological well-being of School-Age Children – 1994) found that a substantial sample of 187 five to thirteen year old children, 72 in their fathers care and 115 in their mother’s care that the children in paternal care were doing better than those in a maternal home. These said children had higher self-esteem, less anxiety and depression  and fewer ‘difficult’ behaviours. Furthermore, and interestingly, Clarke-Stewart and Hayward found that children did best when they were in paternal care and unexpectedly, the custodial parent was happier.

Home rights and work rights

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Fatherhood

As a father and recent grandfather, I am glad to see that certain things have changed. My son does not experience the discrimination that I faced when taking his son out. However, we are still living in a period of uncertainty when it comes to how much a father is allowed to do. As stated, I raised my children alone for many years and they turned out to be okay even without the easy access of support groups and lack of both physical presence and financial support from their mother (she never paid a penny and the Child Support Agency openly admitted to not being able to chase absent mothers). With the rise of equal equality in the workplace the home cannot and should not be overlooked. It is wrong to claim that a mothers love is more important than a fathers equally as it is to say that a woman cannot do the same work as a man. Both are wrong but the discrimination of fathers still exists and does not seem to want to go away.

Obessions

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

History is littered with the ‘great and the good’ but the real people who make a difference are not those who have been born into privilege. It, in my view, those of whom have come from nothing to have made the world sit up and listen who are the greatest of which people should note.

You may argue that a great many developments and improvements have been either due to sheer luck or by a sense of obsession.

Luck

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

If we consider ‘luck’ for a moment a good example is that of Alexander Fleming. Alexander Fleming was a doctor and bacteriologist who discovered penicillin, eventually receiving the Nobel Prize in 1945.

Not washing the dishes

In September 1928, Fleming returned to his laboratory after a month away (having not washed up the dishes before he went) and noticed that a culture of Staphylococcus aureus he had left out had become contaminated with a mould (later identified as Penicillium notatum). He also discovered that the colonies of staphylococci surrounding this mould had been destroyed.

He later said of the incident, “When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I suppose that was exactly what I did.” He at first called the substance “mould juice,” and then named it “penicillin,” after the mould that produced it.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

It is quite clear that one of the greatest finds that revolutionised medicine and, without doubt, saved so many lives was conceived by accident and included a large element of luck.

Any other form of luck?

But what about other historical developments that were not constructed or created from luck? It would be fair to consider that an element of obsession is crucial especially in the face of hostility or by a system that tries to enforce the individual to remain quiet.

Why on earth are you so obsessed?

I remember a conversation I had with a senior police officer following my acquittal. He asked me why I was so obsessed with trying to ‘rake up the past’? I thought this was quiet a strange thing to say especially from someone whose job it was to investigate past events.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

It was from this point that I realised an interesting concept. From my perspective those that have been wrongfully accused of an offence are labelled ‘obsessive’ when attempting to prove their innocents. The word ‘obsessive’ therefore has multiple standpoints.

Two views

Firstly, the standard view of obsessive (or obsession) is one based on devotion or dogged determination. Yet, an alternative view is one whereby people consider that an obsession is about proving someone wrong or to expose an untruth. It is, therefore, understandable that so many people try and belittle someone’s obsessions by questioning its worth. In my case it has been the police questioning my obsession because I would eventually be able to expose the holes and limitations of their actions and abilities.

Yet without obsession many truths would have remained hidden or developments in the world of science, medicine, the arts, education and so on would have remained un-found. What would have been even more unthinkable would have been so many miscarriages of justice would have remained so also.

If we consider events such as Hillsborough, Stephen Lawrence etc the true facts would still be hidden today.

Hillsborough

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

The Hillsborough disaster was a human crush at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield, England on 15 April 1989, during the 1988–89 FA Cup semi-final game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The resulting 96 fatalities and 766 injuries make this the worst disaster in British sporting history. The crush occurred in the two standing-only central pens in the Leppings Lane stand, allocated to Liverpool supporters. Shortly before kick-off, in an attempt to ease overcrowding outside the entrance turnstiles, the police match commander, chief superintendent David Duckenfield, ordered exit gate C to be opened, leading to an influx of even more supporters to the already overcrowded central pens.

Feeding a false report

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

In the days and weeks following the disaster, police fed false stories to the press suggesting that hooliganism and drinking by Liverpool supporters were the root causes of the disaster. The blaming of Liverpool fans persisted even after the Taylor Report of 1990, which found that the main cause of the disaster was a failure of control by South Yorkshire Police (SYP). Following the Taylor report, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ruled there was no evidence to justify prosecution of any individuals or institutions. The disaster also led to a number of safety improvements in the largest English football grounds, notably the elimination of fenced standing terraces in favour of all-seater stadiums in the top two tiers of English football.

The first coroner’s inquests into the Hillsborough disaster, completed in 1991, ruled all deaths that occurred that day to be accidental. It eventually came down to the families who strongly rejected the original coroner’s findings, and their fight (or obsession) to have the matter re-opened persisted, despite Lord Justice Stuart-Smith concluding in 1997 there was no justification for a new inquiry.

Shifting the blame

In 2009, a Hillsborough Independent Panel was formed to review all evidence. Reporting in 2012, it confirmed Taylor’s 1990 criticisms, while also revealing new details about the extent of police efforts to shift blame onto fans, the role of other emergency services, and the error of the first coroner’s inquests. The panel’s report resulted in the previous findings of accidental death being quashed, and the creating of new coroner’s inquests. It also produced two criminal investigations led by police in 2012: Operation Resolve to look into the causes of the disaster, and by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to examine actions by police in the aftermath.

The second coroner’s inquests which was held from 1 April 2014 to 26 April 2016 ruled that the supporters were unlawfully killed due to grossly negligent failures by police and ambulance services to fulfil their duty of care to the supporters. The inquests also found that the design of the stadium contributed to the crush, and that supporters were not to blame for the dangerous conditions. Public anger over the actions of his force during the second inquests led the SYP chief constable David Crompton to be suspended following the verdict. In June 2017, six people were charged with various offences including manslaughter by gross negligence, misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice for their actions during and after the disaster.

Uncomfortable reading

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

The views and actions of the police make for uncomfortable reading when researching the events following the Hillsbourgh disaster. I am sure that the police would have preferred the whole matter to be brushed aside and never to be heard of again. What is disturbing is that much of the blame and finger pointing was to those of whom could not defend themselves – because they were dead. In effect, the insult was a double whammy of lies over avoidable deaths.

Stephen Lawrence

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

Stephen Lawrence (13 September 1974 – 22 April 1993) was a black British teenager from south east London, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April 1993.

After the initial investigation, five suspects were arrested but not charged. It was suggested during the investigation that Lawrence was killed because he was black, and that the handling of the case by the police and Crown Prosecution Service was affected by issues of race. A 1998 public inquiry, headed by Sir William Macpherson, examined the original Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) investigation and concluded that the force was institutionally racist. It also recommended that the double jeopardy rule should be abrogated in murder cases to allow a retrial upon new and compelling evidence: this was effected in 2005 upon enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Obsessive reporters?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

However, a BBC investigation alleged that the murder inquiry’s Det. Sgt. John Davidson had taken money from known drug smuggler Clifford Norris, the father of David Norris, a chief suspect in the investigation. Neil Putnam, a former corrupt police detective turned whistleblower, told a BBC investigation that Clifford Norris was paying Davidson to obstruct the case and to protect the suspects. “Davidson told me that he was looking after Norris and that to me meant that he was protecting him, protecting his family against arrest and any conviction,” Putnam said.

The Metropolitan Police Service announced that it was to open up a special incident room to field calls from the public, following the BBC documentary The Boys Who Killed Stephen Lawrence. The Independent Police Complaints Commission later stated that the claims made in the programme were unfounded.

Corruption exposed

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

On 17 December 2009, Independent Police Complaints Commission investigators and officers from the Metropolitan Police’s directorate of professional standards arrested a former police constable and a serving member of Metropolitan Police staff on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice by allegedly withholding evidence from the original murder inquiry, the Kent investigation and the Macpherson inquiry. Dr Richard Stone, who sat on the Macpherson inquiry, commented that the panel had felt that there was “a large amount of information that the police were either not processing or were suppressing” and “a strong smell of corruption”. Baroness Ros Howells, patron of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, agreed: “Lots of people said they gave the police evidence which was never produced.”

The publication in 1999 of the resulting Macpherson Report has been called “one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain”. Jack Straw, Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001, commented in 2012 that ordering the inquiry was “the single most important decision I made as Home Secretary”. In 2010 the case was said to be “one of the highest-profile unsolved racially motivated murders”.

On 18 May 2011, after a further review, it was announced that two of the original suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were to stand trial for the murder in the light of new evidence. At the same time it was disclosed that Dobson’s original acquittal had been quashed by the Court of Appeal, allowing a retrial to take place. Such an appeal had only become possible following the 2005 change in the law, although Dobson was not the first person to be retried for murder as a result. On 3 January 2012, Dobson and Norris were found guilty of Lawrence’s murder; the pair were juveniles at the time of the crime and were sentenced to detention at Her Majesty’s pleasure, equivalent to a life sentence for an adult, with minimum terms of 15 years 2 months and 14 years 3 months respectively for what the judge described as a “terrible and evil crime”.

Obsessively pursuing the truth.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Obessions

To keep it simple, how dare people criticise those of whom have been wronged as being obsessive. If a wrong has taken place it is the moral duty to find out the truth. It is equally wrong, therefore, for any authority to actively stop or hinder such obsessions. Indeed, some obsessive behaviour when pursuing the truth may be dismissed but to actively encourage people to accept an injustice is utterly wrong.

Like I have previously mentioned in my blog about ‘entrepreneurs’, we need these individuals to pursue a truth and to expose the corruption that has been allowed to exist unfettered and unchallenged.

Like Alexander Fleming, the pursuit of something to benefit a society should be celebrated and remembered. But equally, there are so many others out there with an equally important story to tell.

The need for a political Entrepreneur

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The need for a political Entrepreneur

It is often said that we now live in a disposable society and that capitalism has taken away the concept of equal ownership or rights. I am not a Marxist, but I do have some socialist sympathies. Equally, I also have an appreciation of right wing political thoughts. However, there is no denying that the rise and success of capitalism has been down to specific, talented individuals who have highlighted needs for either change or improvements. Why can’t this train of thought be used beyond industry and commerce and be used to benefit the rights of everyone?

Just because it is old doesn’t mean it is right

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The need for a political Entrepreneur

There is a need for these thinkers within social constructs. The art of the entrepreneur within the realms of the law, equality, police powers and so on are needed more now than ever before. Just because our system of rule is centuries old doesn’t mean it is still right or relevant today. I once had a ten-year-old car – it was not seen as a classic but required scrapping.  Therefore, many (but not all) of the systems in operation today that exclude equal rights in the courts or the assumption by the police about who is right or wrong before evidence is seen (and conveniently selected), needs to be put away and replaced with something new and better.

Change is not inevitable

For changes to happen it must be based wholly on a sense that the present order is unreliable and an understanding of the possibility of an alternative outcome is obtainable. The absence of certain practices by a state makes social entrepreneurs recognise that the present system is neither right or that change is not inevitable. The ongoing status quo is evidence of the conformity and lack of imagination of the masses who just seem to plod along full of ignorance with regards to their true rights.

A consequence

Yet, it is a majority that demand and seek that those who make and enforce the decisions within the courts are also aware of the legal, social and emotional consequences of their decisions. They also need to understand what the true nature of human beings is. The change requires an uncommon ability to recognise a new imagination of change and reform and an element of realism that what the present system is doing not just to individuals but to the state as a whole.

It’s easier to just give up

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The need for a political Entrepreneur

Given the rarity of this combination, it has now become the norm to see so many people are just giving up. The popular image of the perfect family home is fed through the modern notion of fulfilment, equality and happiness. Yet the reality sits in silence regarding the moral bankruptcy of the legal system enforcing inequality and narrow-mindedness set in precedence and social (ab)normalities. This is further coupled with the relative silence of broken homes, lost children and ultimately suicides. If the present formula is not working to ensure harmony then it needs to be changed for a better, and perhaps, a workable alternative. And any good entrepreneur is able to see this clearly.

Bankrupt

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The need for a political Entrepreneur

Like modern industries the ideas and development of entrepreneurs is essential for the survival of industry and commerce. It is the entrepreneurs that challenge the attitude of everyday regularity. Their mindset, it could be argued, have an honourable yet stubborn side. The alternative (hence the present) mindset is one whereby we do things without asking or questioning and continue failing or lack improvements. But there has been no real change to the system in a long time. Thus, if industries adopted the business attitudes of the state they would have gone bust generations ago.

Perhaps with my own entrepreneurial attitude I would like to sell the idea of equality without conditions. Fairness in the courts perhaps, or the police investigating allegations correctly for a change. It’s not a lot to ask.

It’s all obvious

I am not asking for a chain of new churches to be built to accommodate agnostics to help settle their undecidedness. There is nothing to decide or think about because the answers are obvious. What I am suggesting with regards to equality is what everybody has been requesting for many years. In fact, both men, women, young and old are asking for this right now. Yet, at present men still have to go to court to see their children, false accusers are never investigated once the truth is out, women still have to smash the glass ceiling and so on.

Utopia

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The need for a political Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are always trying to elevate an idea to a visionary practice. But to get to that stage they often have to battle or justify their ideas in the face of stone faced ignorance. In the UK certainly, the ignorance is ingrained in statute law and precedence. It is continued because it is conventional to be so. I would like to think that the ideas set out by the entrepreneurs are seeking a utopian ideal that are trying to transform the world for the better. Things can only get better if it is allowed to change or seek self-improvement.

Many years ago whilst studying Political Science I discovered a formula that sets out a simple principle. It is known that the masses will only rebel when hunger is a factor. This was proven during the French revolution of 1789. As a result, the British welfare state was formed to feed the population just enough to stop them rebelling. This was especially crucial after a generation of men came home from fighting in the trenches of the first world war. These men knew how to use weapons and had seen destruction at first hand. Yet, people today are more concerned about the size of their waists or how big their television set is rather than address the values and inequalities within the society we now live in.

Dreams

If there is an accusation of claiming the obvious I must therefore consider that my ideas are not unique. A large number of people are very good at questioning the authorities or their access to basic human rights yet do not seek a change. We also have a concept and view on how the world could be altered for the better. No doubt, we also picture our lives free from abuse, neglect, inequality and mistreatment. Perhaps in our indulging moments we might wish for a better car or house, yet we forget about the freedom from exploitation, false allegations or free access to our children. Is this because in the back of our minds we know we have more of a chance of being a multi-millionaire than to be accepted as being a male victim of abuse from a female partner or it being okay for society to admit that depression is an acceptable illness?

The Armchair Terrorist

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Armchair Terrorist

A few years ago I was on a flight sitting next to a window. As always with flying, although I understand the principles of flight and the science behind it all, I am still in amazement at how such a large aircraft is able to become lighter than air.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Armchair Terrorist

But this particular flight was something different. After spending a while watching the clouds below us and how the reflection of the sun shimmered on the wings I reached forward to read the laminated leaflet about what to do in the event of a crash.

I recall how clinical it all seemed. It didn’t mention anything about the internal feelings associated with death. It also assumed that the fuselage would remain intact upon impact. It was all very presumptuous. But what was equally presuming was the comment made by the stranger sat next to me. I didn’t know him and I wasn’t really interested in entering into a conversation but he said “we are more likely to be killed by terrorists than this aircraft crashing”. Indeed, he was probably right but my demise at the hands of terrorists did not satisfy the knowing of my potential ending.

Crossing the terrorist’s path

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Armchair Terrorist

Many years later my world and the concept of terrorism crossed paths again. I read an article about the rise of terrorist groups in the Middle East. It was an interesting article whereby it argued that terrorism plays on peoples fears and as a result can change people patterns and routines. The act of terrorists are beamed directly into our living rooms highlighting what damage they have done to some market square or a member of a high profile family they have killed. However, on the other hand whilst studying political science at University one of my lecturers said that one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter. Let me be clear here that my politics lecturers was not condoning terrorism but was giving it another perspective.

The 1980 Iranian Embassy Seige

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Armchair Terrorist

I was 8 years old when the Iranian Embassy was stormed by the SAS in 1980 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/5/newsid_2510000/2510873.stm). I recall sitting next to my grandfather watching a John Wayne film when it was suddenly stopped. We were redirected to the images on the screen of masked men dressed in black blowing out windows and gun fire could be heard with (what seemed like dubbed) screams in the back ground. For anyone around at the time the images were unforgettable. But what is equally memorable is the confirmation that Britain would never deal or negotiate with terrorists. This stance has still been upheld today with the murders of humanitarian workers at the hands of ISIS.

Martyrdom

Whilst serving in the forces I also discovered that you cannot negotiate with a terrorist who has a bomb strapped to them acting in the belief of their own religion. The power of the terrorist mindset is focused with a specific outcome regardless of the cost to themselves or those of whom are around them at that specific moment of martyrdom.

Forced by fear

However, about five years ago I heard a story about a Mexican father who received a phone call telling him that his daughter was being held to ransom. It was only recently that I discovered that this story was actually true.

The story goes that one afternoon he received a telephone call in his office from an unknown terrorist group. They informed him that they had his daughter and stated that a huge ransom needed to be paid. If not, the daughter would die. By all credible accounts he was heard to say that if they killed his daughter they would be doing him a favour. He further stated that he had ten children and that they had all been a great disappointment to him and his wife. Furthermore, the cost of raising ten children was becoming a massive burden and if they chose to kill her then that was their choice. Within hours the daughter was returned unharmed. What I get from this story is that the terrorist takes a gamble assuming that their actions will form an element of bargaining power to force people to act against their best wishes.

How much do you love me?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Armchair Terrorist

So how does this train of thought fit in to the abusive home? The fear or intention of threats in the home often forces the other to do things against their wishes. I recall a conversation I once heard whereby two late middle aged women were talking about their husbands. One said that if he didn’t do a specific task he would not be getting any sex that evening. It was almost laughable really, but she was using something she had power of to force or negotiate her partner to do something. Although that is one level of duress it can also extend into others.

For example, this method can stretch from the silent treatment forcing a person to question what they have done and endure an awful atmosphere in their homes to stating that if a person didn’t do what they wanted they would leave and take the children (followed by “and there is nothing you can do about it”).

A change in direction

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Armchair Terrorist

Once a partner has begun to lose interest there is little that can be done to stop the process developing further. The very break down of communication avoids further irritation and is a form of self-protection. If we look at this a little closer, we can then analyse the actions taken by the home terrorist (I would like to call them from this point onwards as the Armchair terrorist). Like the British government who are resolute on not negotiating, the abuser moves from romanticism to woo you back to ultimately sulking, threats and finally rage. The terrorist partner finally knows that they cannot control the situation anymore and adopt malicious measures to bring their victim down.

Pointless outcomes

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Armchair Terrorist

Historically any attempt of gaining an upper hand by the use of terror has always back fired and created a greater resistance against the terrorist philosophy.  If we consider two historical examples whereby the terrorists failed to achieve their objections we must firstly consider the famous Gunpowder plot of 1605. The capture of those involved, and the subsequent trials, led Parliament to consider introducing new anti-Catholic legislation. The event also destroyed all hope that the Spanish would ever secure tolerance of the Catholics in England. In the summer of 1606, laws against recusancy were strengthened; the Popish Recusants Act returned England to the Elizabethan system of fines and restrictions, introduced a sacramental test, and an Oath of Allegiance, requiring Catholics to abjure as a “heresy” the doctrine that “princes excommunicated by the Pope could be deposed or assassinated”. Catholic Emancipation took another 200 years to be realised.

In May 1972, three members of the Japanese Red Army who had been briefed and financed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) landed at Lod Airport in Tel Aviv. Once inside the terminal they began firing indiscriminately killing twenty-four and injuring a further seven. Following this act of terrorism, the peace process did not gain any speed. In fact, it only hardened Israeli public opinion against the Palestinian cause.  Ironically, however, it finally transpired that the majority of those killed were not even Israelis but belonged to a group of Puerto Rican Christians who had been on a religious pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

But in both of these cases, although with several hundred years apart, the common denominator was that the use of violence was used when dialogue had ceased to produce the results they wanted.

Hey you…. Look at us

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Armchair Terrorist

The key points about terrorism and the actions of a domestic abuser is that it is intended to attract attention of either the state or the individual who may no longer be interested in them. They are both a form of psychological warfare with specific goals. For example, the Palestinian cause at Lod Airport, Catholic emancipation in 1605 and to win back the lost affections of a partner within the home.

I love you… but

However, although there are similarities between the armchair terrorist and the regular terrorist there is a distinct difference. The armchair terrorist demands to be loved in the first instance. Indeed, failure to do what is requested in both counts results in violence either by a bomb or shooting to a punch in the face or an attack when sleeping. The resolution and love showed by an abuser is shrouded with guilt. The displays of love and affection are not spontaneous but the actions of someone who feels guilty. As a result, these actions are doomed and will ultimately lead to further disappointment. In their eyes you must love them because you have been forced to.

For the ordinary terrorist they are seeking a one-off concession given to them by the state. Not a perpetual loveless relationship based on the fear that love might be taken away in a moment.  The demand of the armchair terrorist is a falsehood that the love they want is built upon the threat of fear that is imposed. Therefore, it is not spontaneous and thus not the type of love or relationship that anyone wants – including the abuser.

Breach of contract

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Armchair Terrorist

Following a terrorists ability to achieve their outcomes negotiations are often made. A form of peace is pursued with an aim to end the hostilities. But for the armchair terrorist each kiss is tainted with the knowledge that it is false and may even be forced upon the other in an unwilling form of contract.

What am I saying?

Well there is a similarity between the terrorists I have mentioned. When the control or ability to communicate has failed the use of violence becomes arbitrary.  The armchair terrorist tries to control a life for their own individual and selfish means. They try and create a state whereby tensions, resentment and fear are what keeps the structure together. However, the ordinary terrorist is born out of a political deadlock. But in both cases the conclusion is the same – it achieves very little except alienation, discredit and hatred.

 

Settling back

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

I suppose now having returned back to work full time it would be reasonable to reflect on how it has gone so far. Futhermore, and this was good advice given to me, it should be worth considering those of whom are at a point whereby they too are thinking of returning or about to return to work.

Just reflecting

Now I know I have previously written about returning to work when I wrote ‘The Philosophy of Returning to Work’. However, this piece is going to be less philosophy and more reflection. Or, to put it another way an ‘idiots guide’ to returning to work after a long period off.

Great works of fiction

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

Firstly, lets not be under any illusion when I suggest that you have been the topic of conversation at some point whilst being away. I can consider that I have been lucky in that respect as I was told by a number of friends that I was. However, what I found deeply amusing was that the stories about my absence were wide and to some extent quite entertaining. The reality is that there is only one factual explanation and it is you who has it. As a result I found (and still consider) it best that if people asked me why I had been absent I told them. Almost instantly, with the truth now being out from the’ horses mouth’ (so to speak) the more adventurous elaborations were instantly put to bed.

With this in mind, having returned (appearing unscathed) I generally don’t think people were too bothered about it all. One day I was away and the next I wasn’t. It was that superficial. That simple.

Was you away??

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

Interestingly I spoke to a colleague whilst sat outside the local Accident and Emergency department doors waiting for a ‘shout’. She raised a point that I have often thought but never really considered beyond the thinking part. She stated that in our line of work we can go for months without seeing specific people and when we do eventually catch up it may have seemed like weeks rather than months of absence. As a result, I suppose old un-concluded conversations are revisited and same old dilemmas are discussed. In effect, nothing if anything has changed. In many ways I had picked up where I had left off.

Hello

When you think about it it’s not just about you returning to work but it is also about allowing other people back into your life. For me the time I had off was a great period of re-evaluation and reflection. I had spent days deciding on what and who matters in my life and daily existence.

However, I had a ping of guilt when I returned and realised there were people I had forgotten about or had not given a second thought of. But the real comfort came when these individuals actively approached me in the corridor, staff room or even in the toilet and said how nice it was to see that I was back. That was a real warm kind feeling. These people of whom I had temporarily put to the back of my mind had put me to the front of theirs. For me this was the kind of welcome I felt grateful for. It was both kind and considerate.

It’s all so familiar

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

To date I have had no awkward silences or embarrassing avoidances. Indeed people know why I was off (either realistically or not) but either-way they knew I was off and now I was back. Just like before, people are asking for shift swaps or what shift I am on next week etc. In fact those ten months of absence may not have happened for both by colleagues and I. I was back to early starts, searching for a decent vehicle and attending a range of calls with people both new and old to the job. I still have the same dilemmas such as what to have for lunch or the fear of another late finish after a twelve hour shift.

Inwardly however, I am still able to chuckle at the patients who still persistently phone 999 for illnesses or conditions that do not come close to what I or others had suffered. Yes, the frustrations of the job had returned. But it was surprising to note how quickly it had returned yet also felt comfortably familiar.

Different strokes for different folks

It’s not just illness or circumstances that requires people to be away from work for long periods of time. I recall my first day as a qualified teacher after the summer holidays. As a new teacher I was excited about having my first form group and ready and prepared with my stimulating and informative lessons. However, in the classroom opposite was a (shall I say) more seasoned teacher.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

Whilst standing in the doorway once the bell had rung she said how sick she felt. With concern I asked her if she felt well enough to be at work. In reply she chuckled ‘it is normal for all teachers to feel this way after the summer break’. In fact, she was right. As time progressed I too developed the sickening feel of returning to work after a holiday break.

Better differences

The difference, however, from returning to work after a holiday break and a period of sickness is that following sickness you return when you are well enough to do so. In the teacher scenario you return when it is dictated so.

With this in mind my recent return to work was a better than that of a teacher but I had forgotten that. I was eager to return unlike many teachers who dread that moment.

Phased return

Furthermore, depending upon your job or career path you may get what is known as a phased return. Whoever came up with this concept is a genius. For those not in the know, a phased return is allowing you to return to work on a slow and steady pace. For me I started on a couple of days a week on half a shift. After time both the days and hours increased concluding into a normal shift pattern.

I was placed with a paramedic I knew well and we were able to ‘chew the cud’ and talk openly and frankly about everything. For me it was a positive and welcoming return to work compared to the fears and intrepidation I had felt prior to returning.

What I am saying

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Settling back

I suppose that if you had found this page because you had googled ‘returning to work’ or you know someone who has been through a similar experience and knows they have to return my advice is simple. Just do it. Having a job to go to gives a person a purpose (I have never understood those people who refuse to work). If you fear returning because of what people may say or think the reality is that no one really cares. And the good people will be glad to see you back anyway. Furthermore, if you feel it is okay to do so, be honest about why you were away. It is better to lay those ghosts to rest but also to kill off the wild and fanciful stories that had been circulating prior to your return – regardless how funny they seem.

 

 

Human Progress and Isolation

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

It is surprising how powerful the mind can be when you think about it. Many times, over these past few weeks I have wondered what path the human race is taking.

To challenge a view

Time and again I have been told or overheard people say that the development of time is equal to progress. Although I believe I am not in a position to challenge this view head on, I don’t think a statement like that cannot go unchallenged.

A slice of bread

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

Believe it or not but I had an inspiration whilst making toast one morning. Two centuries ago our ancestors would have known the precise history and origin of everything they ate or owned. Perhaps it could even be fair to argue that the consumers of the day may have even known the producers of their goods.

If I take it back to the bread analogy my great, great, great grandmother (say) would have passed the fields of wheat where the flour came from on her way to the baker of whom she may have known who had baked the loaf. The salt pits may have been dug from the roman salt pits only a short distance away and so on.

Where did that come from?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

By today’s standards we are so disconnected from the manufacture and distribution of so many things that I cannot tell you who made the bread for my toast, where the ingredients came from, or for that matter what the loaf actually contains beyond the basic ingredients to make a loaf.

What I am sure of is that I do not know the name of the baker and I would never guest where the flour came from but I expect it to be from overseas.

One long season

I have often walked up and  down supermarket fruit and vegetable isles and gave thought to the fact, regardless of the season, we  manage to obtain fruits and vegetables that were once considered seasonal. At some point in time our ancestors would have been delighted to have grabbed handfuls of berries found on a bush in late summer. Perhaps they would have viewed them as some form of divine gift. But as we became ‘modern’ our impatient attitudes turned our backs on sporadic gifts and demanded an immediate and continual flow of such gastric delights.  In effect, even the seasons have now become controlled.

This process of alienation has stripped us of wonder (because we have no appreciation of the production process) and gratitude (for the science and skill involved).

Village/town/city structures

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

I have become also aware that this process of removal from local centralisation has shaped and developed the way our homes have been built. All villages, towns and cities were built around the central figure of religion.

All churches or cathedrals where the central point of the village or city. For the village the local population would gather once a week and not only prey but socialise with their neighbours and also with the local tradesmen (like the baker and my great, great, great grandparents). Although, I am sure most of the people then would not have realised it but this enforced community relations would soon be exchanged with a new religion or belief.

A new religion

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

The new religion of consumerism replaced the Sunday meetings in the church with new towns being built around the central figure of vast supermarkets where people now congregate to worship at the tills with their credit cards or cash. Whichever way you look at it both processes were profitable yet the new religion has separated communities into individuals where once they would have prayed collectively we now move down the isles with a list in our hands not making eye contact  or speaking to anyone (unless we are failing to find a special ingredient and then we ask an employee).

Now don’t get me wrong at this point. I am not advocating religion as the perfect solution to societies problems. Far from it, as I don’t have any form of religious conviction. But I do think there must have been some form of benefit to having local people meet and be forced to mix for the benefit of the village rather than the sterile brightly lit cathedrals paying homage to St Sainsbury’s or St Tescos on a Sunday morning. And it is here I have identified the problem with so called progress.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

For me an ancient church or cathedral only holds an historical interest. Perhaps it may even be considered as arrogant to walk amongst the memorials and consider them to be foolish to have had such simple beliefs by what I now know to be science and not divine inspirations.

Food

I have also noted that people are happily divorced from the realities of what they eat. Time after time I have met people who are squeamish about handling raw meat or refuse to come into contact with the fish counter. Yet will eat the meat of something they had considered endearing running around a field a few hours previously.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

Although I am not a vegetarian I do think the processing of our foods has divorced us from the reality of what our food is. Nothing is born wrapped in cellophane, yet many people are happy to disassociate the meat on their plates with the creatures they consider as cute.

“Loneliness can kill. It’s proven to be worse for health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day,”(Mark Robinson, Age UK)

Over the past few years I have noticed the rise in people who are alone. Children are now almost expected to move out of their home towns to seek work or further education.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

So like the baker many centuries ago he has now moved from the bakery on the village green to a larger bakery out of town or to a central bakery miles away from home. He will never meet his customers like the isolated pensioner rarely sees their family or for that matter a neighbour. After all, I don’t know mine and I’m sure they don’t know me either.

Forgotten

Although it is still relatively rare, finding a deceased person who has laid dormant and undisturbed for months is become more of a familiar factor within my job. It is only when the body has started to emit pungent smells or bills are not paid does anyone intend to act. The systematic and automatic paying of bills via direct debits has removed regular human contact further. Thus even in the stages before death the individual may know that the months to follow may still be lonely as their body ceases to function. As a result of this it has now become a realisation that families now only meet at weddings and funerals.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

Of the 66 million people crammed into the UK boarders 9 million people report often or always feeling lonely. One study showed about 200,000 elderly people in the U.K. had not had a conversation with a friend or a relative in over a month (Mark Robinson, Age UK).

24 hour daytime

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

Nightfall was also a time when our ancestors became aware that the end of the working day had arrived.  For many I assume, would have rushed to a safe place to ensure safety from marauding wolves or witches on the prowl for victims. Yet the natural process of day and night have given way to electrical lights such as flood, street and headlights. Thus, enforcing some form of unnatural order on our body clocks. It is therefore, no wonder that shift workers are so tired all of the time. Whilst others sleep many are working to ensure that the daily flow of consumerism is not missed because of darkness.

Speaking from my own experience, shift work is far more debilitating than just feeling a little bit tired. Shift work has an impact not only on a person’s health but also on family life and relationships.

So where is this discussion leading to?

Well, I think the passing of time and its associated conveniences has moved communities further apart. The void between close families and loneliness is far smaller now than it has ever been. Hence, a rise in recognised mental health conditions has become evident. Now I know that many of you may be saying that with the developments of modern medicine we may now be able to identify more health concerns, I would like to argue an alternative view.

Animal studies

A relative of mine (who is currently studying animal welfare) discussed the idea of animal communities. He stated that most animals have a pack mentality and so if they are separated from the pack they either become a victim of an attack or become so stressed they eventually die. So why do we expect it to be so different to for humans? People chose either to live in towns or villages and yet we call a hermit some form of eccentric?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

But isolation isn’t the only problem. Although we live in larger communities than ever before we are more isolated than ever with our isolated homes, divided neighbours, distant families and easily purchased produce. By our own making we have created a society that is extremely lonely and isolated, and this, as a result, has further associated problems.

An unpleasant emotion

Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation.

Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience.  Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health: lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as is smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity. Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%.

Social agony

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

Research has shown that loneliness is prevalent throughout society, including people in marriages, relationships, families, veterans, and those with successful careers. Loneliness has also been described as social pain. Or to put it another way, a psychological mechanism meant to motivate an individual to seek social connections.

Loneliness is often defined in terms of one’s connectedness to others, or more specifically as “the unpleasant experience that occurs when a person’s network of social relations is deficient in some important way” (Pittman, Matthew; Reich, Brandon. “Social media and loneliness: Why an Instagram picture may be worth more than a thousand Twitter words”. Computers in Human Behaviour. pg 62)

Suicide risks

Loneliness has been linked with depression, and is thus a risk factor for suicide. Émile Durkheim  described loneliness, specifically the inability or unwillingness to live for others ( i.e. for friendships etc), as the main reason for what he called egoistic suicide ( Marano, Hara. “The Dangers of Loneliness”).

In adults, loneliness is a major cause of depression and alcoholism. People who are socially isolated may report poor sleep quality, and thus have diminished restorative processes. Loneliness has also been linked with a schizoid character type in which one may see the world differently and experience social alienation, described as the self in exile.

Loneliness and social isolation in the United Kingdom

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

Although specifically focused on one section of society, Age UK carried out a range of studies connected to loneliness and isolation and discovered the following statistics;

  • 17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week and 11% are in contact less than once a month (Victor et al, 2003)
  • Over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone (ONS, 2010)
  • Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company (Age UK, 2014)
  • 63% of adults aged 52 or over who have been widowed, and 51% of the same group who are separated or divorced report, feeling lonely some of the time or often (Beaumont, 2013)
  • 59% of adults aged over 52 who report poor health say they feel lonely some of the time or often, compared to 21% who say they are in excellent health (Beaumont, 2013)
  • A higher percentage of women than men report feeling lonely some of the time or often (Beaumont, 2013)

Isolation and suicide rates

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds (https://www.befrienders.org/suicide-statistics)

The WHO further reports that:

In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 (male and female). Suicide attempts are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicides.

Although suicide rates have traditionally been highest amongst elderly males, rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at highest risk in a third of all countries. is this now evidence of the most loneliness generation ever? It has now become the norm to see our youth preferring to text on their phones than to hold a face to face conversation.

90%

Mental health disorders (particularly depression and substance abuse) are associated with more than 90% of all cases of suicide.

Although it is difficult to measure the suicide rates historically (due to the lack of record keeping and the associated shame of ‘self murder’ and religious views) the most accurate suicide statistic I could find dated from 1285. The Essex eyre roll of 1285 points to an annual suicide rate of 0.88 per 100,000 since 1272 which covers a period of 13 years (Suicide in the Middle Ages. Volume I: The Violent against Themselves. Alexander Murray. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN).

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Human Progress and Isolation

In comparison, modern figures for deaths registered in 2016 in the UK, persons aged 40 to 44 years had the highest age-specific suicide rate at 15.3 per 100,000; this age group also had the highest rate among males at 24.1 per 100,000; the age group with the highest rate for females was 50 to 54 years, at 8.3 per 100,000.

Therefore…

I think it would be narrow minded and wrong to suggest that loneliness is specifically associated with people who are physically alone. By my own experiences and that of many others it can be said that you could be surrounded by a thousand people and still be lonely.  But the new modern era has ensured that humans are incarcerated through choice and has developed over the centuries.

The world of social media has narrowed our human interaction as we falsely believe that we are in contact with others on the same measure as face to face contact would be.  I would suggest, therefore, that the so-called progress of the modern age has not been beneficial for the human species at all. In fact it appears that it has had the opposite effect.

 

 

 

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Histrionic Personality Disorder

When it comes to thinking or sharing thoughts, being a paramedic has its advantage. When I am not working alone on a responder car I am scheduled to work on, what we call, a truck which is your regular large ambulance.

It is whilst working on a truck last week that I discussed a certain characteristic I had recently come across. Initially the idea of ‘virtue signalling’ (VS) was mentioned .  However, following further investigation and research I came across a disorder called ‘Histrionic Personality Disorder’ (HPD).

So what was the topic of the conversation?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Histrionic Personality Disorder

I am sure we all know the type of person or at least have met one or two during our lifetime that crave to be the centre of everyone’s attentions. Social media platforms such as facebook, twitter and redditt have brought these people forward. In fact, flick through your home page on facebook (for example) and you will unconsciously read posts by such people.

Craving attention

These people will crave attention by claiming that something has gone wrong (again) and therefore require and revel in the sympathy of those of whom respond. In effect, they like to be the centre of their own little world evoking attention and focus from other people.

This condition does indeed have a sliding scale. At its best it may be low profile with the odd little comment fishing for personal compliments, to its worst it may require the destruction of any potential competition to gain a series of affections and attention. This does indeed have a close relationship with narcissism but demonstrates signs such as people who are; lively, dramatic, vivacious, enthusiastic, and flirtatious lives.

Centre point

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Histrionic Personality Disorder

Narcissism, however takes a step back as narcissists don’t always wish to be at the centre of everything if in fact everything is going their way. On the other hand, people with HPD insist and structure a system to ensure that all eyes are on them.

It’s all about me

To make this more tangible the example I will give is commonplace within HPD. I have met (mainly women) who have flirted outrageously to gain the attention of men. Within a moment they will then complain that these said men are being exploitative and making sexual comments or references. As a result, they will revel in the sympathy produced from her accusations.  This of course has negative consequences upon the men she is accusing. For this matter, the accuser will not care. The outcome they have craved has been achieved and the consequences are negligible in comparison to the achieved awards.

Mental condition

According to Seligman, Martin E.P. (1984). “Chapter 11”. Abnormal Psychology. W.W. Norton & Company. It is estimated that HPD is diagnosed four times as frequently in women as men. It affects 2–3% of the general population and 10–15% in inpatient and outpatient mental health institutions.

With HPD being diagnosed as a disorder it therefore owns certain characteristics. Personality disorders are often rigid, inflexible and maladaptive, causing impairment in functioning or internal distress. A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behaviour that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time and leads to distress or impairment.

Me, me, me

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic personality disorder, put simply, is characterized by constant attention-seeking, emotional overreaction, and suggestibility. A person with this condition tends to over-dramatize situations, which may impair relationships and lead to depression.

Experience

For any person who has experienced abuse from a partner can draw a comparison with HPD and false accusers.

I have found that individuals with histrionic personality disorder exhibit excessive emotionality and as a result have a tendency to regard things in an emotional manner. This makes them, in effect, attention seekers. People with this disorder are uncomfortable when they are not the centre of attention.

When I consider the behaviour of my abusive ex she met a great many of the characteristics evident within this condition. Amongst my friends and family (especially around my father) she was constantly seeking approval or attention. Furthermore, her use of her sexuality in inappropriate situations became a matter of concern. Within social situations she was considered as lively and was able to charm those of whom she made contact with.

Such a nice person…not

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Histrionic Personality Disorder

For many people this may have seemed delightful or even charming. Yet she was equally able to  embarrass me with excessive public displays of emotion, such as having temper tantrums to finally, accusing me of a crime that didn’t happen to seek attention from the police and her family. Unfortunately for her, it became apparent that she had a history of doing this to other men who had attempted to have a relationship with her.

Hey, give me a minute

When I think about it I can recall times when she would send me a text message apologising for something she may have said or done earlier in the day. If I was unable to reply instantly (probably because I was at work) she would send me another text saying how awful I was and that I deserved what she did. Instantly re-texting to apologise – and so it continued throughout the night. This whole process was illogical of which, it transpires, is also a common feature of HPD.

Extreme

I think it is both fair and honest to state that we would all like to be seen as desired or attractive, yet people with HPD seem to take this to the extreme. My ex would dress inappropriately or seem invasive within people’s conversations. Her discussions were often exaggerated or flavoured with stories of woe and drama with the sole purpose of getting people to talk about her and how ‘amazing’ she has been.

However, the reality was not often met by her stories. As a classroom assistant she would claim to be a teacher. As a divorcee she would claim to be a victim and to live the life she wanted she tried to get me into debt – of which she was already in.

Rewards

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Histrionic Personality Disorder

Of course, reflection is a good thing. And I can now see that these character traits explained why she tended to see things from a highly emotional perspective. In short, she craved attention and the emotional “reward” that she gained from it. Furthermore, she obviously felt uncomfortable when she wasn’t the centre of attention. Although she was often seen as lively and energetic she equally became greatly distressed when she was not capturing the attention of others (especially work colleagues or other males). I suppose by calling her a “drama queen” would best fit her characteristic.

PRAISE ME

Whilst reading around the subject I came across a mnemonic that has sometimes been used to describe the criteria for histrionic personality disorder. Ironically it is labelled as “PRAISE ME”:

P – provocative (or seductive) behaviour

R – relationships, considered more intimate than they are

A – attention, must be at centre of

I – influenced easily

S – speech (style) – wants to impress, lacks detail

E – emotional liability, shallowness

 

M – make-up – physical appearance used to draw attention to self

E – exaggerated emotions – theatrical

Negative and positive

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Histrionic Personality Disorder

Regardless of how it is seen I discovered that people who suffer from HPD are often just as interested in attracting negative attention, including shock, anger, outrage, shame, guilt and remorse. And all of this fits in the persona of someone who makes false allegations to win favour from those of whom she shares the story with.

Roots

Although the roots of modern histrionic personality can be traced back to Freud’s description of “hysterical neuroses” (Sperry, 2003 Handbook of Diagnosis and Treatment of DSM-IV-TR Personality Disorders. New York: Bruner-Routledge;), personality was already a matter of attention before.

In the mid-19th century, Ernst von Feuchtersleben, (1765–1834) who wrote the Textbook of Medical Psychology (1845) made the first psychosocial description of what would become the histrionic personality. He described hysterical women as being sexually heightened, selfish and “overprivileged with satiety and boredom” (Millon, 2011 Disorders of Personality: Introducing a DSM/ICD Spectrum from Normal to Abnormal, 3rd Edn. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons).

Several theorists studied the particular traits of HPD including histrionic’s impressionist cognitive style and inattention to detail. In his book, “Hysterical Personality Style and the Histrionic Personality Disorder,” Horowitz (1991), focused on the connection between perception and behaviour in HPD. Horowitz argued that it was based on a disturbed mental representation of the self. On the other hand, according to the biosocial-learning model, proposed by Theodore Millon and other authors, this personality type may arise from unconscious patterns of reinforcement provided by parents and others. According to these authors, their core beliefs include “I am inadequate and unable to handle the life on my own” and “It is necessary to be loved by everyone, all the time.”

So what do I know?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Histrionic Personality Disorder

Although beyond A level psychology I cannot consider myself to be a psychologist. However, I have found many of the above characteristics in many people. By them seeing themselves as the centre of attention they believe that so many other people believe in them and support their accusations. Yet I have given consideration to the point that HPD is in fact a medical condition greatly hidden. Although I am not stating that these people are dangerous in a physical sense they are extremely dangerous to fall out with. They have an expertise in manipulation and playing the victim when the evidence does not exist beyond their own claims.

People with HPD are both dangerous and manipulative and yet also fail to accept their own problems. Like any other mental health condition, they do indeed require medical assistance if only to save them from themselves and other being pulled into their viciousness and manipulation.

Stereotypes feed into injustice

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

With the advantage of social media and the ability to be able to spread ideas and thoughts further than ever before, certain topics become more visible.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

For several months I have followed (from a distance) the rise and calling out of injustice. From the start of time educated people have known that injustices have happened. We can identify with the scapegoating of the people who lived outside of social norms to be labelled as witches and treated as such with burning and hangings. Furthermore, we can identify with more modern events such as the holocaust of the 1930s and 40s. Again this injustice has been allowed to repeat in countries such as (formally) Yugoslavia, states in Africa and so on.

Two sides of the same coin

But is the idea of justice and injustice two sides of the same coin? Is it that injustice is simply a lack of justice?  If we expect to balance injustice then we need to address what we know to be justice. And this can be a difficult event to deal with when your idea of justice has been diluted and abused by those of whom should have done the right thing in the first place.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

The rules of injustice are difficult to comprehend to a law abiding society. From an early age a sense of justice and injustice is indoctrinated into us. A 2012 study published in Psychological Science found that even babies have a sense of injustice and dislike having it violated, even when they witness events that do not directly effect them (Maia Szalavitz (20th February 2012). “Even Babies Can Recognize What’s Fair: Babies as young as 19 months are affronted when they see displays of injustice”. Time Magazine).

Religious texts

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

It is even found within religious texts, for example, in the book of Deuteronomy, it explains that the godly person;

‘shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water… and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so; but are like chaff which the wind driveth away’.

Devastation

To be precise about this matter a feeling of injustice, on a personal level is devastating. A sense of injustice is a feeling that the rules of justice have been violated. These are rules which dictate that if we are honourable, we will be rewarded and that if we are bad, we will be punished.

Absurd

If in life we act correctly but still suffer at the hands of those who don’t we feel excluded from the rights of justice and therefore, vulnerable in every other walk of life. The whole world in which we have lived in seems absurd and unrecognisable.

Thinking on two fronts

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

It becomes expected that the victim of this nightmare thinks on two fronts. Firstly, you may think that you had done wrong without knowing and this is why you are being punished. Or, alternatively, you know that you have not done anything wrong and that you have fallen victim to a catastrophic failure in the administration of justice.

The voice of the majority

Time after time I have witnessed people coming forward to highlight the failings of the judicial service who still continue to deny that there is a problem. Yet in a supposedly democratic society the voice of the majority is being ignored by those of whom are in power not by selection but by privilege. How on earth can one value have a higher value that a principle of protection from an injustice. And here lies the fact that this is the case.

Burden

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

Injustice can be seen as the poor man’s burden. As previously stated in my blog entitled Legal (F)aid ,access to resources to fight injustice is somewhat limited. From that angle we can see that those at the bottom of the social ladder are left to fend for themselves.  So the ultimate realization of Social Darwinism is a real modern day problem. The weak will be left behind with the burden of injustice.

Profit and loss

I would like to think that human nature tries to avoid a world that is unjust, but alas, this is not so. With a justice system comes a profit and loss ideal. For example, like so many other false accusers they intend to gain from another person’s loss, be it either power over that person (as in the case of my ex), financial gain or out of just trying to save face following their own trial of lies. It is only social structures and organisations that choose justice for us. Hence, only an agent such as the legal system can be held accountable as it either supports the false accuser or not. This fact does indeed rest with (in the UK) the Crown Prosecution Service. To date, will all of the people I know who have found injustice not one of them have received an apology for their wrong doing (coming back to the point of doing good means nothing). It only happens when their errors have been made public and the CPS has nowhere to hide.

Ethical poison

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

It seems that the ethical injustice must derive from some ethical poison in the judgement of the hearer. From different points in history one might draw on many depressing examples of prejudices obviously relevant to the context of credibility judgement, such as the idea that women are irrational, blacks are intellectually inferior to whites, the working classes are the moral inferiors of the upper classes, and men are violent within relationships.  With this level of brainwashing it is little wonder that injustice is allowed to continue unabated. The suggestion I am heading for is that the ethical poison in question is that of prejudice.

Literature

But in order to furnish the readers imagination, let us turn to an example from literature that provides us with a historically truthful fiction.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

The example is from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The year is 1935, and the scene is set in a courtroom in Maycomb County, Alabama. The defendant is a young black man named Tom Robinson. He is charged with raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, whose family’s rundown house he passes every day on his way to work, situated as it is on the outskirts of town in the borderlands that divide where whites and black live.

From the outset it is obvious that Tom Robinson is entirely innocent. His defence lawyer, Atticus Finch, has proven beyond doubt that Robinson could not have beaten the Ewell girl so as to cause the sort of cuts and bruises she sustained that day, since whoever gave her the beating led with his left fist, whereas Tom Robinson’s left arm is disabled, having been injured in a machinery accident when he was a boy. The trial proceedings enact a straightforward struggle between the power of evidence and the power of racial prejudice, with the all-white jury’s judgement ultimately succumbing to the latter.

Presumption is a pre-requisite

But the psychology is subtle, and there is a great complexity of social meanings at work in determining the jury’s perception of Tom Robinson as a speaker. In a showdown between the word of a black man and that of a poor white girl, the courtroom air is thick with the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s of racial politics. And yet, like so many other injustices the word of a small blue eyed female (my ex) carries more weight than the word of an innocent man. The presumption is made and the idea of guilt needs to be disproved.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

This example of injustice carries on through the discursive moments of the book. When Mayella grabbed Tom Robinson he was at a loss already. If he pushed her away, then he would have been found to have assaulted her; yet if he is passive, he will equally be found to have assaulted her. So, he does the most neutral thing he can, which is to run, though knowing all the while that this action too will be taken as a sign of guilt.  The interrogation of Tom is suffused with the idea that his running away implies culpability:

‘…why did you run so fast?’

‘I says I was scared, suh.’

 ‘If you had a clear conscience, why were you scared?’

Domestic stereotype ideals

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

Even with all of the evidence to support Tom Robinson’s innocents he is still found guilty. It is perhaps worth remarking that even the most hateful prejudicial ideologies may be sustained not only by explicitly hateful thought and talk but also by more domestic stereotypical ideas that are almost cosy in comparison. For these types of people an alternative truth to their own ideas is largely unthinkable. And so, the ignorance is allowed to continue.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

By selecting an individual to a specific group (for example, if all men are violent abusers then an individual man is an abuser too) this becomes a form of ‘identity’ prejudice.  So, the influence of identity prejudice in a hearer’s credibility judgement is an operation of identity power. Thus, in such a case the influence of identity prejudice is a matter of one party or parties effectively controlling what another party does, says or thinks. So, a view of guilt depends upon collective conceptions of the social identities in play.

In our Mockingbird example, racial identity power is exercised in this way by members of the (white) jury as they make their deflated credibility judgements of Tom Robinson, with the result that he is unable to convey to them the knowledge he has of what happened at the Ewells’ place. This is the essential exercise of identity power in the courtroom that seals Tom’s fate.

Selection is ingrained

From these examples and thoughts it shows that your view of your position in a society that implies it protects the innocent is an irrelevant lie. For many our lives have been selected and chosen before we have even left the womb. Yet regardless of how we try to fight these prejudices they have become so ingrained within the social psyche that justice or injustice becomes irrelevant. It is your gender, sexuality, colour, religion and so on that predetermines the outcomes.

More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

The recent opportunities given to me to spend time researching has opened many educational, philosophical and social pathways.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

I am often amazed to discover facts that seem to pass us by without us either knowing or wanting to know. But today, I came across a revelation that got me thinking. I discovered that more people die each year from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts.

By their own hands

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC)‘Suicide in the United States’ (2000) found that more people die by their own hand than are killed by others. In fact, by their own statistics there were 1.7 times more suicides than homicides.

Furthermore, in the UK the Office for National Statistics (Non-fatal suicidal behaviour [March 2002]) showed that nearly one in six adults had considered suicide at some point in their lives. The study also found that over 4% of people between 16 and 74 had attempted suicide.

Biggest cause of death for 15-35 year olds

The World health Organisation (WHO) have discovered that suicide rates have grown by 60% worldwide in the past 45 years. With the statistic provided by WHO who state that in 2000 alone 1 million people died from suicide it is now the biggest cause of death among people aged 15 to 35 worldwide.

Not just a western problem

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

Furthermore, it is not just a Western problem as I have heard mentioned so many times before. Former Soviet states such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Lithuania have all showed alarming rates of suicide. Also areas such as Uganda and Pakistan have shown a marked increase in people showing ‘depressive disorders’ and suicide (N. Hussain et al. ‘Depression and social stress in Pakistan’ (2000). Psychological Medicine).

Early records

I have also heard it said that depression is a modern phenomenon based on the rise of leisure time. However, again I have found a contradiction to this so-called fact. Depression was once referred to as ‘melancholia’ and the earliest records of such a condition can be found back in the 5th century BC. Philosophers such as Hippocrates and Arateus both described symptoms that sound all too familiar with what we would now describe as ‘depression’. Arateus described melancholia as ‘…the patients become dull or stern, dejected or unreasonably torpid… they also became peeving, dispirited and start up from a disturbed sleep’ (Matthews ‘How did pre-twentieth century theories of the aetiology of depression develop’).

Doubled

Since 1950 suicide rates in men aged 45 or under in England and Wales have doubled. I consider that a change in family circles and a rising lack of security in work may have contributed to this. Could it also be worth considering that there is a rise in drug and alcohol use since the 1950s?

Men and women

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

As a paramedic I can argue with the fact that more women attempt suicide but more men likely to fulfil their actions. This has also been supported by The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) ‘Suicide in the United States’ (2000). In fact, CDC have made it known that males are more than four times as likely to die than their female counterparts. Yet as we know, men are less likely to admit to depression and so it can difficult to diagnose. And here, in my opinion, rests the connection. I would suggest that as a result of men not seeking help they are more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs and perhaps, as in my own case, work longer hours.

Elderly

Another shocking fact that I found out was that the elderly are at the highest risk of all. In fact, according to www.suicidology.org white men over the age of 85 are at the highest risk of all with a suicide risk more than six times that of the general population.  But what, in my opinion, is a truly sad fact is that only a small percentage (two to four percent) have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Time and again, I have witnessed our older generation being dismissed as ‘just getting older’ rather than seeking true and professional treatment.

Global burden

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

For those of you who dismiss the idea of ever having or will ever have depression it is time to wake up. It has been predicted by WHO that by 2020 depression will be the second largest contributor to the global burden of disease. And by then . there will be 1.5 million deaths per year by suicide (quoted in ‘Stigma Ties’ Guardian 11 September 2002).

In my opinion these facts show a serious public health risk. Although I have noticed recent attempts to bring depression to the fore front of peoples minds there still carries a stigma. There is also a question on how public health bodies should tackle what is, in effect, an individuals choice. If a person has made a rational choice to die (say after being diagnosed with a terminal illness) then how can society justify in intervening?

Tools of the trade

I fully accept that the state and public health bodies are always operating within the ‘best interest’ policy. When the UK moved away from supplying household gas from lethal coke gas to a less toxic form, the suicide rates dropped. Yet in the US it is estimated that there are some 200 million firearms in private hands, yet it is the only country in the world where self-inflicted shootings is the most common method of suicide (A. Solomon, The Noonday Demon’ [2001]). Would it not, therefore, be a sensible idea that to take away the means to make an impulsive decisions, then suicide levels may drop?

Stigma

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

I believe that the crucial question rests with the fact that there needs to be a move away from the stigma associated with mental illness. In England alone, 5000 people killed themselves in 2010, yet only 1,200 had sought help or had had contact with the mental health services prior to their deaths (www.ohn.gov.uk).

I conclude with the on-going debate that more needs to be done. Time and again I have found that, even with the best of intentions, medical staff still struggle to find the best provisions for emergency mental health patients. As I have stated, this problem isn’t going away and it appears to be increasing at an alarming rate. We, or our loved ones could, may and perhaps will be a victim of this disease therefore, it is everyone’s problem.

Guest Blog – Elena Perella # 2

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog – Elena Perella # 2

Like so many other bloggers I take great delight in hearing from my readers. For me it is not only an endorsement of what I am saying, but an appreciation of where I have come from or for what I have to say.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog – Elena Perella # 2

As a victim of domestic abuse and a life time sufferer of depression it becomes so easy to look inward for answers or reasons. And as many of us know this is often a difficult process to stop. Time and again (certainly in my case) I tried to understand why my ex behaved in the way she did. And time after time I found reasons or excuses for her.

I have agreed to Elena Perella posting a second blog on this page. Firstly, we all know that abuse is not a one-way street and although she explains her abuser’s actions it offers food for thought to the women out there. After all, my whole ethos is to get a greater picture of love, loss and abuse. And here Elena has attempted to explain from a female victim’s standpoint.

I certainly consider the last paragraph one to offer food for thought. Although there is never an excuse for violence within a relationship Elena offers an alternative view from a victims standpoint.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog – Elena Perella # 2

For both Elena and John it has been a brave step to share this with us. As we all know admitting there is a problem is the first step to recovery and I feel this guest blog has done this.

Violence against women: you, -yes, you!- can solve it.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog – Elena Perella # 2

Growing up wasn’t easy for John. He was constantly under attack from his parents, especially his mother. She insulted him, yelled at him all the time and beat him with everything she could lay her hands on. John cried and cried; and the more he cried, the more violence she used to make his tears stop. Anything John did, like coming home with dirty clothes after an afternoon spent playing on the street with his friends, was enough for her to give vent to her anger. His home wasn’t the only threatening place for John. When he went to school he had to go through the same treatment he suffered at home. His teacher was also a very dangerous woman. Everybody feared her, not only her students but the students of the whole institute. Everybody knew she beat and verbally abused her little students. Children, parents and colleagues knew and many were testimonials of those happenings, but unfortunately nobody ever took measures to stop her. She was afterall a teacher, thus with a status and belonging to the middleclass. Practically untouchable.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog – Elena Perella # 2

She yelled and beat her students constantly. For John going to school meant entering hell every single day, for five interminable years. He didn’t dare to talk at home about what happened at school. He was sure that his parents would think that he was making it up and punish him even worse. Fortunately John had a secret place where he could go and experience the peace he couldn’t find in the adult world: nature. Often John went to the beautiful hills that surrounded the village where he lived. It took only twenty minutes to arrive but it felt like it was a thousand miles away from the terrifying reality he was chained to. He walked and ran immersed in nature, between the trees and the rocks. He breathed deeply the pure air that caressed his hair, his face, his body. When he was at the top of the highest hill he felt free. He opened his arms and embraced life, receiving from that beautiful environment the love he deserved. He pointed a finger in the air to touch the sky, so blue and clean, a wonderful painting of perfection. Why couldn’t there be such of perfection at home? He cried and his tears found their relief in the silent passage of a flock of birds. Then he wished he could be one of them, to fly far away from the horror he had to go through every day, to reach destinations without the obligation to remain anywhere and be free to choose when to leave for the next adventure.

Nightfall brought him back to another reality. It was time to go back. Silently John returned home. Resigned to his terrible destiny, John grew up with a deep wound in his heart. The mistreatment he went through moulded him into a violent man. He lost his capacity to choose his reactions: wrapped in pain he became a slave of the toxic inheritance his mother filled him with. This manifested itself through a careless attitude towards himself and others, especially women. He was so scared of being rejected like he had been by his mother, that he unconsciously devastated and broke the relationships before the woman did. No matter how painful this was for him too, he couldn’t help it. He was program to destroy. He had forgotten to be free, forgotten what he had known as a child: that he had a choice, that things could be different. Would he remember it again?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog – Elena Perella # 2

If we really want to solve the problem of violence against women we must look at the problem from a different perspective, even though this isn’t easy. We, women have the power to give life or death to our children. When they are in our womb it’s we who decide what their reality will look like, because it’s we who pass onto them their lifeblood. If we don’t love ourselves, we feed them on our lack of love.