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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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
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
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
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.