The Alienated Parent – An Open Letter

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Alienated Parent - An Open Letter

To whom it may concern

I have now felt it relevant to put my thoughts into words. It appears that no matter how much discussion is held about this matter nothing seems to want, or able to shift the boulder that is blocking the way towards decency, rational thoughts and what is morally correct.
There are so many different ways of saying how much it hurts to be an alienated parent in a way that you might understand, but I can’t. So many times I have tried to look for an understanding or reason, and yet I am still at a loss. With each day break there is no change and yet when I try to sleep all I can see and hear is the child I have difficulty seeing. And this hurts.

Indeed, the pain of child birth is and has always been well documented and yet this is over within a moment. What is never mentioned and conveniently overlooked is the pain being felt by the alienated parent. This pain can, and does, last a life time and is, alas, at times fatal. By simple measure The Australian Men’s Health Forum published on the 19th November 2018 that one in two separated fathers have suicidal thoughts. How is this justified to continue with the loss of not just individuals but fathers, sons and brothers. And yet we continue to discuss the death rates of the plague that affected just 15% of the population many hundreds of years ago. Will our descendants be studying the state sponsored death rates imposed upon absent parents in years to come? I hope so, as this shame is too much for any so-called civilised state to justify. And yet, history has a habit of airbrushing uncomfortable truths that do not make comfortable reading.

The shame can easily be found by talking or listening. This process of alienation is not just set with the odd one or two parent’s but it is endemic and appears to effect every single absent parent I have ever met. By this standard it therefore stands up to scrutiny when I state, therefore, that no every absent parent is absent through choice. Far from it, studies carried out throughout the 1990s found that parents who reside with the child are also the gate keepers to access – regardless of how poorly this is policed by the authorities.

For those absent parents of whom are given small morsels of contact, can you clarify how to explain to a child who wants to see more of you that they can’t based on a person who holds a wrong opinion. The irony is that some of these gate keepers have sons who will one day become fathers themselves. Will the gatekeeper be able to justify their actions when their sons are stopped from seeing their children based on the premise of the precedence they had set a generation before. It may only be then, when the damage has been done, will the error of their ways come to the fore.

On an individual level how can a person think it is perfectly reasonable to develop ways or say untruths to stop a parent seeing their child. We consider that it is unreasonable to drink and drive, or to carry a knife. Yet nothing is mentioned of false accusers or parental kidnap. How does the idea of alienating an absent parent not equate to child neglect or abuse from fracturing the right of a child to accessing a loving parent, regardless of gender. And yet we are bombarded with news reports of rapists getting a say in how the child resulting from the assault is to be raised. How on earth does this measure up to the alienated parent whose only crime was to end a relationship with the other parent. Is it now time to state that crime does actually pay when trying to be there for your child/children is seen as an utter inconvenience and the state sees no reason to uphold such family values?

There have been numerous historical examples of when society has turned a blind eye to issues until it turns on them. Unfortunately, these problems still remain an individual problem but actually impacts upon everyone. With the removal of legal aid to support alienated parents access to the rights of law becomes a privilege and not a right (of which so many wars and conflicts have been fought over). But it is widely known the costs associated with a broken society and broken homes. The numbers of people in prison who had no access to their fathers or substance abusers who never knew their absent parents is immeasurable. But the authorities continue it to be right to stop access on the whim of one parent. If an alienated parent is successful to gain some form of access then the orders are often set out with a frame work of times – wouldn’t it be a good idea to set a frame work that is based both on a maximum and minimum time a parent can see their child. The loving alienated parent would undoubtably take the maximum where as the gatekeeping parent has to ensure the minimum?

With this in mind, throughout my fight to gain access to my daughter I refused to paint a negative picture of my daughter’s mother. Although time after time I was encouraged and expected to. For both social workers and lawyers, it became the norm and expected dirt to be dished like a tabloid newspaper revelling in sickening stories that never took place. Yet I took the stand that she was the mother of my precious little girl. Even after all of this time I will not tarnish her name and will never do so in the presence of anyone else, including my daughter. Perhaps my ex considered that I would, and created a time line of events to perhaps offset whatever I came forward with. I never did and never would, and it has cost me more than I probably could have got. But my integrity and decency remained and always will in the knowledge that my daughter will know she has a loving mother – and will one day know that she has an equally loving father.

In retrospect perhaps, we decided to fight too quickly, yet the recovery is too slow. What I do know is that the state will never kill the hen that lays the golden egg. As the system remains; children go without a wanting and loving parent social workers and lawyers are kept in employment and the law makers decide to keep the status quo because it has been proven to be too profitable to stop.
Maybe I might be wrong. There may be an authority out there of whom is willing to kill off the said golden laying hen for what is right. But I feel there is an element of either laziness or ill education of behalf of those in authority. Is it due to costs, staffing levels or is the alienated parent’s plea too low a priority? I consider that if a child’s physical needs are met then the child’s future emotional and stability is irrelevant – of which the over populated prisons appear to bear witness to.

My child is worth more than money and will always have access to my love of which has always overflowed to create pain of a breaking heart. It takes two to conceive and she will always have two parents wherever life takes her, or the choices that she will make. That fact will never be taken away. But by alienated parents not seeing them does not mean they are loved any less, it’s just that they are thought of more often.
So many things need to change for our children and for children as yet to be born. Too many of our children are being held to ransom by an expensive and elitist legal system. Too many children are told lies by the gatekeeper parent to instil a fear of a person that is unable to speak out. And all of us are paying the heavy price for the present system that is just not working. Afterall, who is actually benefiting from any of this? It’s not our children or the gatekeeping parent who may lay in bed at night wondering when the time of truth will come knocking on their door like an angry bailiff seeking to balance their books.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take the reins of all alienated parents and ensure the rights of the child to both parents is ensured, protected and enforced if required.

Yours…..

Forward – Book on Fatherhood

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

For many of you who have been following my blogs you may be aware that I have started research on my next book focusing on Fatherhood. For the eagle eyed you may notice some similarities with a blog I wrote in August 2018 about fatherhood. As time has progressed I have had the opportunity to develop what i wrote back then.

Below is the forward of the future book for you to read and consider. Of course, any feedback is welcome….

Forward

In one way or another we all want to be good fathers. Whether you are a lone, old, young, step, or natural father the pains and delights can come in equal measure. Perhaps in some ways depending upon your age we want to be caring, nurturing and involved with our children in ways our own fathers never were with us. The simple, and often over looked fact is that fatherhood cuts across so many social barriers such as race, class, ethnicity, religion and geographical locations. 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 erroneous stance.

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.

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 bumbling 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, 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.

Throughout my time researching the concept of ‘the father’ it is easy to see that ‘fatherhood’ has become a political agenda within itself. Many right-wing fathers groups look to promote fathers rights as against mothers. A conservative approach to fatherhood is often based on Christian values in which the father works to provide for his nuclear family whilst the wife stays at home doing the nurturing. 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. 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.

It also 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). 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).

During the time of addressing the issue of absent and feckless fathers of the 1980s and 90s nothing was known about the circumstances of non-resident fathers. Fatherhood, and in particular non-resident fatherhood, was not a particular area of academic interest. Therefore, child support policy makers were able to import crude (and often misguided) stereotypical ideas of the absent father into the academic vacuum without valid knowledge or research. In the original Child Support Agency (UK) White Paper the language therefore became revealing. Mothers became the ‘caring parent’, whilst fathers were the ‘absent parent’. The Children Act of 1989 also carried the vestiges of ignorance when it refused to give automatic parental responsibility to the unmarried father (although this has now changed). The consequence of all of this is was to construct the importance of fatherhood only in financial terms, a classic, if you like, of gender segregation; mothers being important for care and nurture and fathers for money and providing. It is only now following recent research into non-residential fathers that this type of stereotype of fathers is somewhat wide of the mark. As a backlash to this ideology the newspapers of the day made an issue of this with such articles as “New Daddies Girl” (The Times – Saturday 4th July 1998), “Founding Fathers” (The Times Magazine – Saturday 11th July 1998), “How to Survive the Split” (The Birmingham Evening Mail – Thursday 23rd July 1998) and so on. It became evident that a strong feeling of injustice was starting to develop amongst fathers and that their importance solely rested as a financial one. Alas, according to the National Association for Child Support Action (Pg 15 Lewis. R. (1998) National Association for Child Support Action News – Issue 2), it had been estimated that 45 suicides were directly attributable to child support legislation within its first year of implementation. As a result of the tragedies and the debarcle associated with the development of The Child Support Agency the government tried to push for a more “active family policy”. It stated that a parent should “never divorce their children” and gave lip service to the idea that fathers have a rightful role to play within a family and should never be “marginal to a child’s well-being”. Alas, the reality remains that for so many fathers these terms became words only and the family law courts are still choaked with fathers desperately battling to see their children.

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. However, ideas and stances can quickly change. 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’. Even false accusations of violence is often upheld by social services based on no evidence. 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.

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 mothers 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.
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 in later life.

Badinter, in her 1981 study entitled The Myth of Motherhood: An Historical View of the Maternal Instinct, suggested that the contemporary father is rejecting the authoritarian role of our forefathers and is trying to play a father/mother role. However, Laslett in his review of the said book argued (in the London Review of Books [19th August 1981]) that there was too little research to draw such conclusions. Although both points are valid it went to show that even by the early 1980s there was little, if any solid research into the role of fatherhood. However, one would like to suggest therefore, the idea of an involved fatherhood may have existed all along, but it has only recently become a fashionable research topic. Following a period of my own research it was noted that most family studies of the 1970s and early 80s were mother focused. For example, most data about fathers were more than likely collected by the mothers, who in turn became the investigators. Fathers, it appears were often out at work when the researchers gathered their evidence. However, the maternal role playing family is not ubiquitous, since many children do not grow up under the exclusive care of a mother. Furthermore, research carried out by Eiduson (Non-Traditional Families [1982]) for example, showed that both men and women can, and often do, reject the parenting styles of their parents. 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.
I strongly doubt that the 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.

At present we see concepts such as parental leave, flexible working and on site child care as female concerns. Obviously, I can sit back and say that these are not ‘women’ issues but ‘parental’ and should be addressed as such. These narrow based concerns appear to block a fathers ability to be as involved as the mother from the outset. The case for a change in public policy was made by Lars Jalmert of Stockholm University who reported that the gradual changes in Sweden as a result of the parental leave system had found that men were now living closer to their children than in previous generations.
With an attempt to bring in sweeping changes for parenting it is perhaps now right to look at gender roles differently. There needs to be an acknowledgement when it comes to parenting that there is a distinct difference between ‘gender’ and ‘sex’. Sex refers to biology – the simple differences between men and women. Whereas, gender identifies cultural differences perhaps better identified as masculine and feminine. Thus, gender is a social construct. Even when we can identify gender differences these are further divided when we take into account subcultural differences such as race, class, age, ethnicity and even sexual persuasion.
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.

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.

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. With these differences in mind this book is set out to discuss fatherhood in its simplest terms. What does it mean to be a father when you fit into different categories? Of course, I can reflect upon my own experiences having fallen into categories such as, young, old, lone and married, step, adopted and natural. They have all come with their difficulties but have equally come with joys and pride. Thus, this book will try and help us consider the issues facing fatherhood as well as his wealth of experiences.



The End

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

The End

For an end to have an existence it must be the conclusion of something. The end of the day must have had a morning, and a death must have had a birth. Even the greatest oak trees started from a small acorn. But if I am to discuss the end of my story we must be aware of where it started. At the beginning of my first book (Silent Story) I made the unassuming comment that when I woke on that one Sunday morning, little did I know the night before that the world of which I once recognised would no longer exist by lunch time the following day.

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

History Paths

Both the ancient Greeks and Romans believed that history was on a linier path and not circular. To put this simply, day to day experiences were independent of each other and they were of no consequence to what had happened before. By todays standards we are fully aware that events are indeed a consequence of events and actions that had happened before hand. If we think about the terrorist attacks that happened on 11th September 2001 they were not just an idea plucked out of thin air. There was a history attached to the ideology behind it all. The attacks took planning and logistics. These events were nearly identical to the 1605 terrorist plans associated with the gun powder plot to blow up the king and Parliament. Both plans were based on a religious, philosophical and the need to spread fear in the name of terror. Although the topic is not about terrorism both events shook the world so much that promises were made to learn and react and yet, the same events unfolded with 400 years apart.

Words

The journey associated with history is littered with events that are either not new or indeed repeated. Time after time I have witnessed great speakers talk about the events before, during and after the Jewish holocaust in the 20th century. And yet, each time these people speak they talk about learning from the past and avoiding the horrors that had happened before. However, in our own lifetimes we have seen ethnic cleansing, mass genocide and victimisations of minority groups repeated time after time all within the space of a few years. Therefore, you can argue that it is okay to study history but why bother if nothing has been learnt or heeded from these events. Therefore, it could be argued that the study of history is nothing more than a high brow soap opera with the obligatory bad character battling the good – and there are countless examples throughout time to give here.

Journey

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

When I reflect upon my journey following my abuse and life time struggles with depression it becomes clear that the peaks and troths, the bends and dips were and all part of the recovery. Yet like the impatient child seated in the back of the car it is inevitable that I will ask “are we there yet?” By giving the seated child analogy it is not the journey they dislike it is the arrival at the destination they are impatiently seeking.

Throughout my time struggling to get answers and seeking explanations, I have peered through the windows to discover cover-ups, uncomfortable apologies backed up with nothing more than formally typed letters, stereotypical conclusions, narrow minded protocols, systematic failures and ignorance by public bodies. I have discovered that the journey has not been pleasant but highly educational. The journey has shown me that although there are a lot of errors and faults in supporting male victims of domestic abuse and support for people with depression there is no impetus or encouragement to change. The David and Goliath struggles are far too big to tackle when those holding the cards are so deeply infused with narrow minded ignorance that change appears almost impossible.

Fear the truth

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

Over several months I have read and watched both recent and historical events of minorities who have suffered at the hands of the authorities. I have concluded by finding two facts. Firstly, as quoted by Socrates, “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers” and secondly, People start to ridicule because they fear the truth. In both cases the fight to expose the truth is over shadowed by the fight to maintain your dignity in the face of hostility. In so many cases it has been the case that the bringer of facts has had to fight organisations such as the police, both criminal and family law courts, social services and so on. In every case I have attempted to raise the truth I have been stopped by convenient red tape, systematic protocols, and institutional ignorance that suits the blinkered stand-point of which they wish to operate by.

A lack of interest

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

Having now reached the end of the journey the car park looks very dull indeed. The dystopian future is filled with dread for our sons (and in part, daughters). In the twenty-first century we still lack the medical support for depression and above all the lack of interest or concern for male victims of domestic abuse. I have found that the future seems utterly disinterested in offering equal support for men who live with the daily horrors of a violent partner (whether heterosexual or not) or the rising numbers of men taking their own lives. There appears to be a complete lack of interest when men are discharged from hospitals following assaults to ensure they have a safe place to go home to. There is an utter lack of interest from the police who attend male victims who call out for help following the utter embarrassment to admit that they are victims. Social services and family law courts still and will forever favour the mothers over good and caring fathers.

A dystopian future

The real pain rests with the fact that no matter how hard a few voices have shouted out that enough is enough, absolutely nothing has changed in my life time. We can only conclude by stating that male lives just do not matter. Men are replaceable, expendable and unequal in the eyes of the law and in the role of a husband, father, brother or son. And this is where my argument holds so much importance because every wife, mother, sister or daughter has a male counterpart of which feels the same pains as them. It will be hard to bring up our sons telling them not to bother being in a relationship because the breakdown can and would destroy their lives. Or tell our fathers that they might as well put that rope around their necks because nothing will be done should you choose otherwise. This, as stated, is the dystopian future and my journey to this point has shown no impetus or need for change.

The end

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

However, I suppose that by concluding my work I have discovered that there are so many other men out there that have experienced what I have. It has brought me great comfort to know that by telling my story I have been able to be open and frank about my experiences. I am certainly wiser about the system and how it does not practice what it preaches. At the time of writing this I am still awaiting support from a police domestic abuse support officer two years after raising my concerns.

I suppose I can now see that I am stronger than I originally gave myself credit for. I have learnt that to survive the nightmare conditions I had found myself in, recovery must and does start from within. I have found that people who suffer with depression are often the kindest and (ironically) the happiest people you could know. Furthermore, having a dependency on an agency doing the right thing is a fallacy. But here lies the irony, by accepting these newly found facts and adjusting my stance to how society should respond I am now in such a better place. My happiness is genuine and my knowledge is stronger. So I suppose by concluding my work I would like to finish with two quotes from my favourite (and often misunderstood) philosopher, Friedrich Nietzche (1844 – 1900)

Insanity in individuals is rare – but in groups, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

And finally

What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

 

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.

The Power of a Poster

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Power of a Poster

A painfully Slow Process

I am now at the age whereby I realise that not everything is done instantly. This has come as a bit of a shock to me because as an ex member of the forces I have found that, although life in the forces is somewhat different to ‘civvie street’ life out here is slower and a lot less urgent.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Power of a Poster

During the end of my service in the RAF one of my NCO’s (non-commissioned officers) said of me that; if I needed something done, I didn’t care how it was done as long as it was on my desk when I needed it. As a result I have found life as a civilian frustrating and unjustifiably slow. If something needs to be done it does not require a committee or a series of phone-calls to end up back at the beginning to be told I have the wrong number (and so on).

In My Lifetime – Doubt it

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Power of a Poster

Alas, it is with a heavy heart when I consider the fact that the changes we urgently need may never be achieved in my life time. However, it was recently brought to my attention that there has been a recent drive highlighting the fact that men are also victims of domestic abuse. Of course, I am delighted that such an issue is starting to be acknowledged but a poster strategically placed still does not address the whole issue. Let me give another example, there would be uproar if 1 in 4 people were diagnosed with cancer but there was no treatment in the modern world for it. To give another analogy, we would never contemplate the idea of a sinking ship having no life boats.

But here rests my point. I am delighted that some form of statement of recognition is now out there but where is the support? Where is the equality in law for equal protection. Or, for that matter where are the refuges for male victims? Where is the access to a safe home on a council waiting list? Where, once the ability to leave the home is the equal parenting rights to our children?

Is that it, just a poster?

You may call me cynical, but as far as I see it the whole poster drive is a tick box exercise. It appeases the police who claim to administer the law equally. It appeases social services who claim to be equal and inclusive and it appeases the health service who claim to offer support and sanctuary. But alas, none of this is the case.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Power of a Poster

Many people think of domestic abuse as a physical assault by a man on a woman in their home. But the reality of domestic violence extends much further than that. The Inter-Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence has adopted the following Home Office definition: ‘Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.’ (Home Office)

Male Victims Do Not Exist

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Power of a Poster

In a document entitled Responding to domestic abuse: a handbook for health professionals – by the Department of Health 2005, states that; Responsibility for domestic abuse always lies with the perpetrator – never with the person who has been abused. At no point does it identify a specific gender as being either the perpetrator or victim yet, within the said document it clearly states on page 4 that it will not acknowledge male victims as; Consequently, this handbook focuses on women’s needs. To date the said office have failed to produce a male equivalent document, thirteen years after the publication of the first booklet mentioned above.

We will probably never know its true extent, because many male cases of domestic abuse go unreported. It is difficult – and often dangerous – for a victim to tell somebody that they are being abused by somebody close to them. But we do know it’s common.

Domestic Abuse Is A Health Issue For Men Too

With the recognition of a social problem must come some form of responsibility. Men are dying at an alarming rate. Okay, it is fair to argue that less men die at the hands of an abusive partner but men are killing themselves because they have reached the end of a dead end road. When there is no other option left but to return to the abusive home and become the perpetual victim to a violent partner that is one thing. But to be rejected by the law makers or to be refused a home based on your gender is another.

It doesn’t take much to type in ‘domestic abuse’ in any search engine to find reams of information aimed at female victims. Pages and pages will offer support and guidance and even direct you to places whereby you can get specialist information about specific things. Yet, in my hour of need there was nothing. Not a dot of information or help. After all, it has always been unacceptable for a male to be a victim either of domestic abuse or depression. And yet the only contribution to date to support a male victim is a poster.

A World Wide Disgrace

Well I don’t wish to make a stir but that poster offers very little in the way of true support. There needs to be an equal drive for supplying refuges or/and protection. Like I have previously said there would be uproar if this lack of provision or funding was found in any other walk of life. This present system is far from adequate and is a world wide disgrace.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Power of a Poster

I am aware that for generations men have been discouraged to talk about problems or concerns. Indeed, as a result the numbers of people reporting issues does not reflect the true facts about the issues concerning men. However, times have changed and not only are a younger generation of men stepping forward but we also have a younger generation of violent women making their mark. For generations men have also been discouraged to not discuss depression or moments of ‘weakness’ but the unacceptable rise of male suicides are not being recognised as a social concern.

When I was finally encouraged to come forward and share my story with the authorities it was a big step to take. However, I was under the influence that there would be some form of pay-off. If I openly talked about my experiences and present concerns I would be able to access support, help and advice. Yet, to date I have received next to nothing other than a number of counselling sessions provided by my work. I must therefore, acknowledge that I had been given some form of support but it does not match anything that was offered to my female equivalent. Yet, here I am saying how delighted I am to have witnessed a poster – yes just one poster.

Gender issues

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Power of a Poster

Similarly, although much of my writing refers to domestic abuse within heterosexual relationships, it’s important to acknowledge that lesbian and gay relationships are also affected by domestic abuse. Although abuse in same-sex relationships sometimes brings up different issues from those occurring in heterosexual relationships, it merits the same level of concern and the same professional, supportive response. Yet, I have had discussions with gay men who tell me that it is one thing to admit being in a gay relationship, but to admit being the victim of abuse by their partner is another.

Virtually every person in Britain uses the healthcare system at some point. If we create an environment in which men as well as women are likely to feel safe enough to reveal that they are being abused and can therefore access information, it can make a real difference for thousands of men and their families.

What do (all) survivors of domestic abuse want?

• To be safe. It is essential to know that a man has the same protection in law as a woman. A home must be a refuge from not only the outside world but also a haven from the threat of violence.
• To be believed, taken seriously and respected. From my own and many other men’s experiences this has not, and never was the case. The police fail to provide protection or advice to males. Furthermore, although more concealed now than ever before, no male victim of abuse is taken seriously and as a result lacks the respect the victim requires.
• Timely and proactive interventions such as routine enquiry and the provision of information. A safe haven on an equal standing as female victims is essential but lacking.
• Independent advocates (from the voluntary sector, for example) to oversee their case and liaise with the different agencies that provide them with support.
• A single person or agency to get help from so that they don’t have to keep repeating intimate details of their abuse.
• Options based on their circumstances explained to them clearly.
• Contact with other male survivors.
• To be kept informed of developments – such as when an abuser is released from a police station – although females don’t seem to either get arrested or have to explain their actions.
• Support to cope with the effects of abuse on them and their children.
• To have their views incorporated into services that are offered to them. Furthermore, respect and consideration for their plight.

But at least I can now conclude by saying – at least we now have a poster.

Small holes sink big ships

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Small holes sink big ships

I must have been about 14 when I first heard the phrase; small holes sink big ships. I recall it was my great grandmother who said it and instantly I knew that it was a phrase worth remembering.

Sharp in mind

My great grandparents were a funny couple. She was sharp in mind but weak in body, yet he was weak in mind but sharp in body. I would often visit to find that the living room had been repainted, mainly because he had forgotten he had done it two weeks before. And there she would sit covered in paint splashes because she did not have the ability or strength to move prior to his redecorating quest.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Small holes sink big ships

My great grandmother was a wealth of information. She would sometimes recall events such as bombing raids or the sending off of young men to the trenches in France during the first world war. Of course, she was full of hindsight of which was rich with facts and considerations. But she was never boring or one to ‘go on’ about things. She often told me about the corruption of the police during the blackouts and the black marketing they did during the war years. I recall how disappointed she looked when I told her that I had considered being a policeman once.

I can’t recall the actual content of the conversation whereby she said about the small holes and big ships. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. But the idea behind the conversation resonated. Even today it helps put things into perspective. Napoleon Bonaparte once remarked that trivial things often decide the outcome of a battle.

Big ships

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Small holes sink big ships

Let us look at this idiom a little more closely. A ship is generally a huge floating construction sometimes weighing tonnes and is made of good quality steel. It is designed in such a way that it can travel long distances carrying heavy loads. But in the sea sometimes when there is a small hole or some small damage to the ship, it sinks. The size of the hole in the ship is very small compared to the size of the ship. This is comparable to the characters of people where a small fault in the character causes their downfall.

Over several months I have been following a range of stories whereby an authority has been brought to its knees because of either it’s own arrogance or reaching beyond the limitations of which it is set. For example, I once ensured the sacking of a social worker because of his inability to do his job correctly and within the frame work set out by his governing body. I suppose I would have overlooked his indiscretions. However, my tolerance was stretched when he said “how dare I challenge him when he is a social worker”. Well, of course I discovered the holes in his ability to do his job and he sank to the bottom of his career.

Mockery

Again, we have seen the head of the Crown Prosecution Service sink beyond the recognition of decenthood when challenged about her views on disclosure failings and wrongful imprisonments. This one person has made a complete mockery of the justice system where everyone had a stake or a vested interest. Now people no longer have the confidence to know that they are protected under the system they took for granted to get things right.

This failure causes problems beyond the sentencing of innocent people. Are we now living in a time whereby any jury member will question the validity put forward by the prosecution and the police and so set a criminal free to reoffend? It’s possible. After all, my trust in the police and the CPS is beyond repairable and I will always question the motives behind a police or CPS investigation.

Rats and a sinking ship

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Small holes sink big ships

It is interesting to note, however, that these organisations seem to think that if a person resigns then the problem will disappear. It doesn’t. One person takes the rap for many. Alison Saunders (ex head of the CPS) only stood down because her policies had been exposed. Yet it is not just her who has been pulling the levers of the corrupted system. There are many others. Confidence in the criminal justice system was rocked last year after a flurry of cases collapsed when it emerged that vital evidence had not been passed to defence lawyers.

The new head of the CPS; Max Hill QC has pledged to “restore public trust in the Crown Prosecution Service” after being announced as the new Director of Public Prosecutions. Mr Hill will replace Alison Saunders in the senior legal role from November, after months in which the CPS has been heavily criticised for a catalogue of disclosure failings that led to cases collapsing and warnings about miscarriages of justice. Mr Hill has been quoted as saying he was “honoured” to be taking over from Ms Saunders, adding: “This is a challenging time for the CPS, with the rise in … negative publicity about its handling of disclosure in some cases.

The Justice Committee said “insufficient focus and leadership” led to problems going unresolved and that the Department for Public Prosecutions (DPP) “did not sufficiently recognise the extent and seriousness” of failures within the disclosure process. A report published on Friday also concluded the CPS may have underestimated the number of cases stopped because of disclosure errors by 90%.

Raising

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Small holes sink big ships

I have highlighted the list of police failures in previous writings. I have also shared the stories of my great grandmother who expressed her concerns about corrupted police officers over many generations. And yet nothing changes. The whole ship of corruption is re-packaged and allowed to set sail again under am ensign of ‘we have learnt our lessons’ or ‘we are sorry, we won’t do it again’.

Yet the police failed to comply with its disclosure obligations in more than four out of 10 cases. According to a new report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate which looked at 1,290 files, the police ‘fully complied’ with their obligations in only 57% of cases and there was ‘partial compliance’ in a further 37%.

According to the watchdog, prosecutors’ compliance on initial disclosure was ‘not much better than the police’ with only 58% fully meeting requirements. ’We saw limited evidence of prosecutors identifying police lack of compliance in reviews or other notes on files, or of them feeding that back to the police,’ the inspectorate noted.

Own review?

Earlier this year CPS commissioned its own review of disclosure following concerns over the Liam Allan case and other collapsed rape trials. That review revealed that issues with disclosure had been identified in 47 of 3,637 cases from a six week period reviewed; but only five had been identified as such through the CPS’s own case management system.

However, only this week (Tuesday, July 24, 2018) the UK police’s watchdog is investigating allegations of “serious corruption and malpractice” within Scotland Yard’s own ranks, the largest police inquiry in 40 years. The probe was launched by the UK’s Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after whistleblowers raised concerns that senior officers in the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) were interfering with investigations and turning a blind-eye to wrongdoing. Let me clarify at this stage, the DPS was set up to investigate corruption within its own service and is now being investigated for corruption itself??

It now transpires that gross misconduct notices have been served on three officers, while “a number” of other officers are being assessed, according to the IOPC. IOPC director Jonathan Green said claims of racial discrimination within the Met were also being investigated. It is claimed there are officers in the DPS who are said to have interfered with or curtailed investigations, according to Green. “The investigation includes alleged interference in, and curtailment of, investigations by potentially conflicted senior officers, failure to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, systemic removal of the restrictions of officers under investigation and racial discrimination,” he added. “As part of this investigation, three officers have been served with gross misconduct notices and one of those officers is also under criminal investigation.” Green further stated “Assessments on the status of a number of other officers remains ongoing.” According to The Times, three whistleblowers from the Met approached the IOPC to allege members of the DPS were shielding officers from a range of allegations. “The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has referred allegations regarding the conduct of a number of MPS personnel to the IOPC which is conducting an independent investigation.”

Following simple investigation I also understand that one of the most senior police chiefs in the country is also under investigation for malpractice for improperly interfering in an investigation into bullying.

Worldwide problem

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Small holes sink big ships

Now, without scare mongering I am positive when I state that this investigation should not stop at the London Boarders. This appears to be a world wide problem. I have received comments from people all over the world expressing their concerns about the corruption on their own doorstep. Yet, time and again very little seems to be done to address these concerns.

Retreat

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Small holes sink big ships

The police and the CPS now appear to be retreating into a bunker of secrecy and paranoia where all news must be ‘managed’ and freedom of information is considered a threat. On nearly all police websites I have found outrageous quotes such as; ‘declaring total war on crime’ and to be committed to carrying out its duties with ‘humility’ and ‘transparency’. Yet could anything be further from the truth? With its constant leak inquiries, harassment of whistleblowers and journalists, and scandalous misuse of terror legislation the police are probably more authoritarian and opaque than at any time in modern history.
Kevin McGinty, chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Inspectorate, found that 97% of defence lawyers had encountered disclosure errors in the last 12 months. ‘It doesn’t surprise me,’ he replied. In the past 12 months the Commission has continued to see a steady stream of miscarriages. When asked if he detected a sense of urgency on the part of the CPS and senior police officers in the wake of their report, he replied: ‘I hope so, but history shows they haven’t in the past.’ He pointed out that since their last report in 2008 ‘we have had Attorney General’s guidelines, two reviews by Lord Justice Gross and Court of Appeal cases that have gone horribly wrong where prosecution and police have been severely criticised. And yet we still have this problem.’

Sunk

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Small holes sink big ships

In my opinion there seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding about the importance of equal and fair justice. Both the prosecutors and police officers should have due regard for information which points away from the defendant as well as information that points towards them. Yet it appears that in every case I have come across both parties seem to opt for the easy option. They fail to note the true facts and consider only one parties views. Is this due to financial restraint or just incompetence?

I am afraid that the ship used by the criminal law authorities has, in my opinion, sunk. It is riddled with corruption, inconsistencies, lack of ability and dishonesty. The police are not fit to investigate fairly and the CPS cannot share information correctly. Yet, time and again the sinking ship is raised from the bottom, given a new paint job that fails to hide the cracks (time and again like my great grandfather in his living room). I am afraid to announce that I have met people, including myself, that spots a police car in my rear view mirror and feel a shiver down my spine knowing that the incompetence behind the wheel is unchallenged and alas it now appears, dishonest.

If I talk who will listen?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?

 

Nearly 25 years ago I won sole custody of my sons. Just saying it like that makes it sound so simple. But it wasn’t. I had to sacrifice a good career, battle with social services who had a single view of parenting and I had to face up to the realities of being a single father in a hostile environment to men.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
When I recall those times I remember feeling frustrated and isolated. I knew of no other single male fathers or other men who had or were battling social services to meet a logical conclusion.

The big world got smaller

The big difference then was that the mode of communication was very limited. The internet was still in its infancy and organisations like ‘Families Need Fathers’ could only be contacted either by post or by visiting their weekly meetings. I suppose I could argue that the world was a very narrow place when looking or seeking for help, guidance and support.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
Now with technological advances similar people can be contacted and groups be found within a moment. Furthermore, all of this can be done from the phone that sits in my pocket. All of these advances are something beyond my dreams back then – but here it is and it is wonderful.

The power of the internet

I must state that I have taken full advantage of the technology to hand and found it to be useful. I have links on various social networks. I have contacted groups from all over the world and spoke directly to individuals not only in my own country but from all around the globe.
However, I have found a common denominator. I have found that the art of being ignored by the authorities is not a single issue. It is prevalent all around the world.
Whilst I have researched, considered and delivered my findings and arguments I have found that the people who need to hear us are actively ignoring our calls.

The need to write

My writings have generally been about depression and domestic abuse from a male perspective. I set out to do this over twelve months ago because when I was looking for something there was nothing available. Yes, there is literature available about domestic abuse but only if you are female. The literature on depression is limited but tended to be clinical and lack the authentic experiences of a sufferer. As a result, I found it easy to combine, but I have found it frustrating not to be heard.

Over exposure?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?

It took a great step to open up. By writing about my views and experiences I was (and still am) leaving myself open to scrutiny. When I set out to write I decided that as there was very little out there, I would be a no hold barred writer and express and talk about anything and everything. After all, in my view and hour of need it was what I wanted to hear from someone else.
My point throughout has been that (mainly) men should open up and accept that enough is enough. It is not good enough to expect there to be no literature in doctors surgeries highlighting male victims of domestic abuse. It is also unacceptable for a male victim to be expected to sleep rough as there are no refuges available for men. It is also a life saving decision to express a need for help when the dark clouds of depression take hold.
Yet, and here is the rub. I had made contact with a number of organisations who had claimed to offer an ear of understanding.

In the kingdom of the blind…

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
I approached the police with my evidence of assaults and abuse. I also supplied them with facts from the Crown Prosecution Service about the lack of information received. The Crown Prosecution Service were informed and challenged about their views on male victims and the issues related to target setting prosecutions against men (and not women). I had also contacted a range of social services expressing my concerns related to male victims of abuse and their continued lack of resources for men.

Yet each and every one of them had either refused to comment or delivered a range of unexplainable and illogical excuses. Time and again I had received letters implying that I should either just go away or put these things down to experiences and move on. One example, was found in a letter I received from the police. It said;

…[the] meeting presented a further opportunity to articulate your concerns and observations and for me to report back on my considerations of the matter. I know you do not share my opinion but I retain the view…. Your allegations was dealt with represented a proportionate police response.

Let me put this into perspective then. I supplied the police with evidence such as diary accounts, text messages, emails, photographs and independent statements from independent witnesses (x3), Ambulance Service Managers and family members. And yet they decided to not take my case further. As a point of fact, they did not even pass my documents to the Crown prosecution Service for their consideration. Is this not a case, therefore, of cherry picking? And yet the full force of the law was placed onto me because my ex made a claim and it was backed up by her (none independent) daughter. Or to put it another way, there was no diary accounts, text messages, emails, photographs and independent statements from independent witnesses.

…the one eyed is king.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
I have taken the time and the opportunity to raise this concern with the police time and again and yet they stick by their guns still refusing to accept the fact that they have not applied the law equally. Or for that matter justly. I have also taken the time to express my concerns with the police for the lack of support for male victims of domestic abuse. To date the only response I have had about this matter is a paragraph in a letter stating;

…the availability of literature for male victims of domestic abuse could be enhanced.

I note that it says could and not should. In essence it makes no promise or effort to address the imbalance. Furthermore, when I stated in a previous letter that I have still not heard from a Domestic Abuse Support Officer (now 14 months after informing the police) I have still not had any response whatsoever. To quote from Mark Brooks from Mankind Initiative UK following the death of Mark Von Dongen “[is] it down to lack of competence and because… [I am] a man?”

A no win situation

With the lack of clear support and understanding of male victims it therefore, makes it even harder for men to come forward. In essence, with the present status quo the fact of the matter is that male lives just do not matter.

I now sit back in my chair and think about how far I have come. I am now in a good place and I consider myself to be happy. Yet all of this has been done with the support of friends and my own un-defeatist attitude. However, I have learnt that it is impossible to reason with the unreasonable. When you have an agency that are so stuck in their ways and are encouraged to be so there is no impetus to change. After all, why should they when they are meeting targets and individuals can be pushed aside and forgotten? Why should there be change when society is so silent about private injustices or plights?

If we close our eyes (and ears) it won’t exist

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?

There is no requirements to support men when they have been painted (and remain so) as the perpetrator of all things evil and blue eyed, blonde haired claims are taken as the gospel when the facts show otherwise. Why should the police delve into an accusers past and find a pattern of abuse claims against other men?

The answer to all of this is simple. It is not politically correct to consider a male view. It is impossible for them to consider evidence as facts that fly in the face of a perceived consideration. Furthermore, a lone man trying to take a stand against an established authority is small fry and is easily pushed to the side with rhetoric and false appeasements.

Past its sell by date

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
Regardless of how the police and judiciary try to defend their lack of actions with regards to male victims of domestic abuse, the same old rhetoric about women being more likely to be victims of domestic abuse will keep getting rolled out. But why has no one stopped and considered that fact that this statistic is nearly 30 years old, and in my view, therefore, outdated. It would be inconceivable for a new study to be carried out as it would find that the police actions and lack of support does not fit with the real world of which they claim to police.

Well if you won’t listen, I will turn up the volume

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
I suppose I can consider that my journey is coming to an end. I am not waving a white flag and laying down my arms. Far from it. I suppose I am going to take a new and different stance on the matter of male victims of domestic abuse. I have focused on my own experiences with regards to the failure of the police. A new tactic is one whereby I can now go public. My knowledge and understanding of the system that chooses to ignore cannot overlook the fact that a sole voice can sound much louder when it has access to media and other men (and women) in similar situations that have felt ignored, forgotten and alas expendable.

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?

Blood sports

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

I don’t know much about TV around the world but in the UK we have a chat show whereby certain sections of society visit a TV studio and are mocked and ridiculed in front of a live audience about everyday things.  For any educated eye the viewer can tell that these people are clearly below the educational norm.

Lust for blood

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

I have found it fascinating that society seems to do such awful things in the name of sport or entertainment. If we look at entertainment throughout the ages there has always been an us and them attitude. During the 18th century it was considered as entertainment to watch the mentally inflicted of whom were chained to walls and spend time ridiculing them. It was also considered a sport to watch defenceless animals get torn to pieces by dogs. Yet, and I have had this conversation before, blood sports such as fox hunting is acceptable as it is a higher social class of sport unlike bear-baiting of which was considered as a working-class pastime.

Possible equal outcomes

In my eyes a game of any sport should be levelled on an equal footing. I don’t follow football (or soccer for my American readers) but we attend sporting events as there is a 50/50 outcome. It excites us as we can either feel elated at a positive outcome – and perhaps take great comfort in our competitor’s failures. Or we could loose with the idea and thoughts that we could do better next time. I suppose this is the closest thing we could consider as modern-day tribalism. Our teams’ success is our success and the teams failure is our failure too.

Opium for the masses

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

Sport is an opium for the masses. What good or purpose is kicking a ball around a pitch to get it into a net. Or for that matter why would anyone actually choose to watch curling, when it looks like glorified mopping on a sheet of ice. George Orwell once stated that “serious sport is war minus the shooting”. But the need for a gory end has ensured that boxing has remained and rugby triumphs as a sport for ‘men’. Oliver Cromwell when referring to a cheering crowd in 1654 said “the people would be just as noisy if they were going to see me hanged.”

Time after time I have heard people condemn and criticise such entertainments, but these TV shows draw in large numbers of viewers. For example, the Jeremy Kyle show aired its 1000th episode on the 1st March 2010 with daily viewing figures of 1.5 million. On 24 September 2007, a Manchester District Judge, Alan Berg, was sentencing a man who headbutted his love rival while appearing on the show. Judge Berg was reported as saying: “I have had the misfortune, very recently, of watching The Jeremy Kyle Show. It seems to me that the purpose of this show is to affect a morbid and depressing display of dysfunctional people whose lives are in turmoil”, and that it was “a plain disgrace which goes under the guise of entertainment”. He described it as “human bear-baiting” and added that “it should not surprise anyone that these people, some of whom have limited intellects, become aggressive with each other. This type of incident is exactly what the producers want. These self-righteous individuals should be in the dock with you. They pretend there is some kind of virtue in putting out a show like this.”

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

Hero worship

But, like the talk show entertainment I mentioned earlier, and the brutality associated with contact sports, it is carefully orchestrated, condoned and encouraged by society unknowingly. Our fascination for violence dressed as entertainment goes back centuries. Roman gladiators would be hero worshipped like over paid footballers today and it was estimated that arenas dedicated to death drew in an estimated 80,000 people every day to each arena.

Going to court is the same as being thrown to the lions

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

Like the witnesses at a gladiatorial death or screaming fans at a football stadium it is perceived as okay to scream all manner of obscenities that we would not normally allow outside of the arena. Yet, the irony is that it is allowed to happen in one of the highest offices within the country. The arena of the courtroom has allowed the destruction of careers, families and lives. Unlike the football match where there is a 50/50 chance of a successful outcome the British legal system is like the gladiatorial games where an unarmed victim is thrown to the lions. This lust for blood has fed into the psych of the Jeremy Kyle audience and the courtrooms where those who shout the loudest get the greatest plaudits.

The one who has made the most outlandish statements do not need to defend themselves. It is the weak (because of the gender stereotypes that associate certain behaviours with certain sexes) who are left defenceless in the constant onslaught of attacks in the courtroom by using the constant unproven trump card associated with abuse, masculinity, fatherhood etc.

Profits over people

But this blood sport is allowed to continue is profitable. Like the Alehouses where dog fighting was permitted, the landlord would operate a system whereby he would profit. The legal system establishes a system whereby the defence is attacked and supported with unfounded allegations. Furthermore, the attacks are supported and encouraged by social workers and the police. Ultimately, the defendant has to endure the torment and attacks before rolling over and passing away with the state supported carnage.

Win/win everytime

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

As previously stated, George Orwell said “serious sport is war minus the shooting”. The arena of the courtroom is a war minus the bullets. Either way, there is a looser. But the irony sits with the fact that it is a constant win/win situation for the mother in the family court and the false accuser in a criminal court. In my situation my final defensive blow came from the magistrate who stated that there was absolutely no evidence to support her false claim. Yet the police were hellbent on a blood spill. Unreasonably it was my blood they were after.

Because I said so…

Unfortunately, I have seen this blood sport played out again and again in the family courts. A good father who has played a positive role model and offered unconditional warmth and love to his child is dismissed, thrown out and blocked from access to his children on the vicious, evil and malicious allegations of the mother who only needs to make one statement; “he is not a nice man” for the games to begin.

Lets (never) see that again from another angle

Unlike the end of the football match whereby the fans can go home and watch the re-runs. The legal arena makes the victims go home and never to wish to have a re-run of those experiences. Yet, there is always the same winners of whom know how to play the games although unfairly. Like the Gladiator who may have had to fight with unsuitable equipment or with a disadvantage of having an arm tied the disability of being a male ensures that men will never be on the winning side. The legal system is not an equal playing field, but the rewards offered to the winner is always at the cost of the human dignity of the falsely accused or the previously fit father who does not fit into the role expected or required of the embittered mother.

 

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

If sport encourages the hatred of another, the present court system allows the destruction of a defendant based on unproven allegations in both criminal and family courts. We are outraged if we discover a sportsman has taken an unfair advantage to falsely win. But unfair advantages are made in the courts.If the rules of the games are to change then the language used also needs looking at. Just because a woman states she is a victim does not always equate to that being the case. And just because it is a male in the dock does not associate with him being an abuser or the violent partner in a failed relationship.