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.

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.

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?

Third world treatment for second class citizens in a first world nation

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Third world treatment for second class citizens in a first world nation

I could start and leave this blog by just saying it is all ‘disgraceful’. But that would be an utter injustice to what I have read in the news recently to leave it at just that.

Murder by any means

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Third world treatment for second class citizens in a first world nation

I have been following the case of Mark Von Dongen’s death. For those who are not in the know about this case some of the details can be found at; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-44159192. To keep it brief Mark had acid thrown over him by his ex-girlfriend Berlinah Wallace.

Fifteen months after the incident that left him in permanent pain, paralysis, the loss of a leg, eye and ear, Mark took his own life via assisted suicide.

Legal view

From the legal point of view, I can understand why Wallace was acquitted of his murder but found guilty of throwing the acid. As has been said following her acquittal for murder she had no forethought about it leading to his death by assisted suicide, but her ignorance is no defence to realise that there would not have been a consequence to her actions.

Utter arrogance

From what I understand about Wallace and following the transcripts of the trial she will now be in a position to clearly state that she was found not guilty of murder. Her arrogance is beyond reprehensible and beyond arrogance.

Was it because he was a man?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Third world treatment for second class citizens in a first world nation

However, what has been conveniently overlooked was the fact that time and again Mark had reported her abusive behaviour to the police. Three weeks prior to the attack he had called 999 to report his concerns about her behaviour and his concerns for his own safety. In fact, as a point of note her previous husband, Ray Wallace was reported as saying he considered himself lucky just to have had and ashtray thrown at him. It goes without saying that so many people knew what was going on but each and everyone failed him. And yes, the police are also culpable in that statement too.

To quote Mark Brooks from Mankind Initiative UK; … “was it down to lack of competence and because he was a man?”

Lets make the rules up as we go along

But the Wallace case is just another example of the third world treatment being handed out to male victims. A judge’s decision in May 2018 to spare Oxford University student Lavinia Woodward from going straight to prison (Judge Ian Pringle QC imposed a 10-month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months) for stabbing her boyfriend with a bread knife in his leg was reprehensible and indefensible.

Woodward, a student at the university’s Christ Church college, was to be sentenced earlier this year after admitting unlawful wounding, but the judge controversially gave her four months to prove herself and stay out of trouble.

When has gender been a defence?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Third world treatment for second class citizens in a first world nation

In fact, it has almost become the norm for female abusers to walk free and as a result risks putting male victims of domestic abuse off coming forward. Mark Brooks, again commented that Woodward’s sentence as “unfair” and said she would have been expected to go to prison had she been a man. Again and again this poor treatment of male victims will enforce that view, that male victims are not taken as seriously as female victims.

The whole outcomes of these cases are unfair. We would expect a man who committed this type of crime to go to prison and rightly so, so the question has to be asked why it wasn’t this the case here.

Punishments

Sonja B. Starr conducted a study that found that men serve, on average, 63% longer prison sentences than women. However, the study does not purport to explain why this is the case (Starr, Sonja (August 2012). “Estimating Gender Disparities In Federal Criminal Cases”. Law and Economics Research Paper Series. 12 (18): 17). Warren Farrell also identifies twelve criminal defences that are only available to women (Farrell, Warren (2001). “Women who kill too much and the courts that free them: the twelve “female-only” defences”. The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are The Disposable Sex. New York: Berkley Books. ISBN 9780425181447). Men’s rights advocates have argued that men being over-represented in both those who commit murder and the victims of murder is evidence that men are being harmed by outmoded cultural attitudes (Woolf, Quentin. “Our attitude to violence against men is out of date”. The Telegraph 2017) The National Coalition for Men states that killing a female rather than a male brings a longer sentence, even more than the increase observed by killing a white person rather than a black person (NCFM (18 April 2014). “Criminal Sentencing”. ncfm.org. National Coalition for Men.).

In the USA, Warren Farrell cites evidence that men receive harsher prison sentences and are more likely sentenced to death in the United States. He critiques society’s belief in women as more innocent and credible, as well as battered woman and infanticide defences.

Pick and choose

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Third world treatment for second class citizens in a first world nation

If we look again at the two cases mentioned. If a female had called the police the outcomes would have been very different indeed. Furthermore, like in my case, the police not only failed to address any of my concerns but went completely overboard for a statement that was proven to be a lie from the outset. In fact, whilst I think about it I am still waiting for someone from a domestic abuse unit to contact me to offer support – and this all happened over twelve months ago. Is my abuse not worthy of the respect or consideration that the authorities seem to supply to my female equivalent? The facts seem to prove this. The reality is that the courts are not applying the same mindset as they would for victims of all genders.

Pointless exercise

And yet the Crown Prosecution Service announced plans in early 2018 to encourage male victims of sexual and domestic abuse to come forward. Like myself, so many other men I have contacted about this debacle have also confirmed it was probably the worst thing they could ever have done. Firstly, you are not believed or considered that you may have asked for it. Secondly the CPS will never take the case forward. Thirdly, the support they claim to offer is not there (like I have just said, I am still awaiting contact from the Domestic Abuse Support groups over a year after reporting my attacks). Finally, and this is the best, both the CPS and the police have perfected the ability to deflect any sort of blame or ownership of incompetence.

This whole mindset of the judiciary and the police flies in the face of established legislation when it comes to fairness of the law. The 1647 Agreement of the People Act stated that “laws will apply equally to everyone and that there must be no discrimination on the grounds of tenure, estate, charter, degree, birth or place”. The 1975/6 Sex Discrimination Act and Race Relations Act was set out to make it an illegal act to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of their gender, or ethnicity. I just think that the general public and the judiciary seem to be singing from different hymn sheets.

Out of date statistic

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Third world treatment for second class citizens in a first world nation

Regardless of how they try to defend their third-class treatment the facts will not deflect from the fact that a man has died because of the actions of his violent partner, of whom, I hasten to add was already known to the police. Furthermore, this is just one example. And yet, the same old rhetoric about women being more likely to be victims of domestic abuse will keep getting rolled out to defend the indefensible. But why has no one stopped and considered that fact that that statistic is nearly 30 years old, and in my view, therefore, outdated.

Domestic violence committed by women against men is a problem that goes ignored and under-reported, in part because men are reluctant to describe themselves as victims. It appears that the judicial systems too easily accept false allegations of domestic violence by women against their male partners.  Men’s rights advocates (mainly in the US) have been critics of legal, policy and practical protections for abused women, campaigning for domestic violence shelters for battered men and for the legal system to be educated about women’s violence against men. Yet I find time after time domestic abuse leaflets are only ever aimed at female victims and I cannot name or identify one male refuge within eighty miles of my home address.

A circus… but who is the clown?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Third world treatment for second class citizens in a first world nation

It has been suggested to me time after time that feminism has overshot its objective and harmed men. Men’s rights groups generally reject the notion that feminism is interested in men’s problems. Would it not be fair to consider that the banner of feminism has hidden the discrimination now faced by men? I really hope not, as every person I have spoken to declares their intention of equality for all. Yet, I have failed to see equality in the family and criminal courts. Or for that matter within the distribution of health equality and so on. How on earth has an ideology of sexual equality created such a monster that is costing the lives of men?

Family law is an area of deep concern for me. Men’s rights groups have argued that the legal system and family courts discriminate against men, especially in regard to child custody after divorce. I find it difficult to believe that men have the same contact rights or equitable shared parenting rights as their ex-spouse. I like so many other fathers have gone into financial hardship to get what should be an automatic right.

I often rest on my bed at night and wonder about the plight of those fathers and who do not and have not the access to funds to pay the court to enforce what is a supposed right. The saying that fathers have equal rights is just rhetoric as the truth is in the lack of enforced access for any father wishing to raise his children equally to the mother. When I have heard men’s groups ask for “rights” and “equality” in their discourse, framing custody issues as a matter of basic civil rights it is dismissed unless it is a financial benefit to someone (be it the mother or the lawyers). I would therefore cite that parental alienation syndrome as a reason to grant custody to fathers.

Health

Health issues faced by men and shorter life expectancies compared to women may be seen as evidence of discrimination and a third world treatment for second class citizens. There is a complete disparity in funding of men’s health issues as compared to women’s, noting that, for example, prostate cancer research receives less funding than breast-cancer research. Warren Farrell states that men are more likely to die from all 15 leading causes of death than women at all ages (Farrell, Warren (February 10, 2014). The Myth of Male Power: Why Men are The Disposable Sex (21st anniversary ed.). Chapter 7). Perhaps we now live in a society considers that men more disposable than women.

Homelessness

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Third world treatment for second class citizens in a first world nation

Homelessness is a gendered issue. In Britain, most homeless people are male (Poole, Glenn. “Homelessness is a gendered issue, and it mostly impacts men”. The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 March 2017). In the United States, 85% of homeless people are male (Farrell, Warren (2001). “Is male power really a myth? A first glance”. The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are The Disposable Sex. New York: Berkley Books. ISBN 9780425181447).

It really is a disgrace

I started this post with the term “disgraceful”. And it is. Whatever stance or view you may take on this matter this is not just a male issue. It is our fathers, uncles, husbands, brothers, partners and sons who are ignored by the authorities in their hours of need. We have seen the death of one person due to the actions of a violent woman and the failure of the police to afford the same protection to that of a female. And we have also witnessed the lack of punishment for a man being stabbed by his female partner.

The poor standards of care given to men does indeed make them a second-class citizen when it comes to rights and protection. And this is not a third world country. This is my country. A country that is proud to declare that its laws are fair and equal. It’s just like Orwell once said, “everyone is equal, it’s just that some are more equal than others”.

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.

 

Guest Blog – The Recovery Village

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog - The Recovery Village

I was having an open and frank conversation with a senior police officer on the 2nd May and it was during this talk that he asked me if I was aware of any organisations that would have been able to support me during my ‘period of need’. Being as honest as possible I stated ‘no’. Of which of course came as no surprise to him as he was hoping I would prove the opposite of what he already knew. There re no male support groups I would consider even close to be able to use.  

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog - The Recovery Village

However, I was introduced to The Recovery Village who offer support for both domestic and alcohol abuse. Would it be too much to ask for our representatives, so called protectors and policy makers to do a little bit more that the bare minimum they are doing now? Could our English Government and social workers not take a leaf out our American friends book? 

Anyway, I invited them to write a blog primarily aimed at my American readers or certainly to offer food for thought for my home readers. 

 Thank you Amy and Carlos…. 

The Recovery Village 

Domestic violence and substance misuse are viewed by many as separate problems needing to be addressed in the United States. However, the two have a well-documented connection to one another — and in many situations where one is present, so is the other. 

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog - The Recovery Village

The Recovery Village is part of the integrated behavioral healthcare management company, Advanced Recovery Systems (ARS), and includes a network of treatment centers for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring disorders. Many people who come through the doors of a drug and alcohol rehab facility such as The Recovery Village have also experienced domestic violence, either as the offender or victim. 

 Connection Between Domestic Violence and Substance Misuse 

 Drug and alcohol misuse and domestic violence are extremely prevalent issues in the United States, and nearly half of Americans suffer from either one of or both of these issues. 

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog - The Recovery Village

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 20 million Americans ages 12 and older reported in 2016 that they suffered from a substance use disorder. Around 2.1 million misuses opioids but the largest group was alcohol misuse, with 15.1 million people reporting they were addicted to the substance. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. 

There is information that backs up the link between domestic abuse and addiction to drugs or alcohol. Some of the facts that associate the two issues are: 

  •  Adolescents or young adults who were involved in dating violence within the past year are more at risk of having mental health or substance use disorders. 
  • Teens who have suffered from dating violence are more likely than their peers to misuse drugs, contemplate committing suicide or regularly eat unhealthy foods. 
  • Research from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) shows that substance misuse plays a role in around half of violent incidents between intimate partners. 
  • People who were victims of domestic abuse are 70 percent more susceptible to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol than people who have not experienced dating violence. 
  • On days when one or both members of an intimate relationship used drugs or alcohol, a physical altercation was 11 times more likely between intimate partners. 

 How The Recovery Village Helps 

 Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog - The Recovery Village

The Recovery Village cares about the mental well-being of its clients, which is why the rehabilitation centers provide treatment for co-occurring disorders, also known as dual-diagnosis. These could be mental health issues such as anxiety disorders or depression, or eating disorders. Through treatment for both addiction and any co-occurring disorders, people who have experienced domestic violence can find support and healing from these tragic events. 

 The Recovery Village understands the struggle of individuals who suffer from domestic violence because of the connection between that tragedy and substance use disorders. Because of that, The Recovery Village provides help for for people who recognize the presence of domestic abuse in their own lives. 

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog - The Recovery Village

While many signs of domestic violence might be visible primarily to the victim, there are some symptoms someone on the outside of the abusive relationship can easily notice. The Recovery Village wants to make it as easy as possible to identify these abusive relationships. If a friend, relative or other loved one is suffering from domestic abuse, they might: 

  • Frequently make over-the-top attempts to please their partner 
  • Explain cuts, bruises or other injuries by making up accidental injuries 
  • Receive harassing text messages or telephone calls from their partner 
  • Make excuses for their partner being verbally abusive 
  • Get nervous or have difficulty talking about their relationship 
  • Frequently miss social outings, school or work obligations 
  • Show signs of anxiety or depression, including low self-esteem 
  • Tell stories of times their partner was jealous or possessive 

The Recovery Village’s associates are trained professionals who can help people suffering from not only substance use disorder but also domestic violence. These conversations could enlighten people suffering in these relationships or people who know someone in an abusive relationship, who know someone in an abusive relationship, which could lead to them seeking help for their issues. 

 Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog - The Recovery Village

The Recovery Village provides opportunities to open up about domestic violence during the rehabilitation process. One of the most integral parts of The Recovery Village’s addiction treatment process is the inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs. Whether it’s during a full-time stay at one of the facilities, or a weekly visit during an outpatient program, people on the path to recovery often receive support during individual and group therapy sessions. In these intimate settings, there are opportunities to discuss negative experiences prior to recovery or talk about any physical altercations with an intimate partner that continue to cause emotional distress. 

 

If you are in need of assistance or just want to talk, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. 

Histrionic Personality Disorder

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

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

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

So what was the topic of the conversation?

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

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

Craving attention

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

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

Centre point

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

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

It’s all about me

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

Mental condition

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

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

Me, me, me

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

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

Experience

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

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

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

Such a nice person…not

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

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

Hey, give me a minute

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

Extreme

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

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

Rewards

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

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

PRAISE ME

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

P – provocative (or seductive) behaviour

R – relationships, considered more intimate than they are

A – attention, must be at centre of

I – influenced easily

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

E – emotional liability, shallowness

 

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

E – exaggerated emotions – theatrical

Negative and positive

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

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

Roots

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

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

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

So what do I know?

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

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

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

Guest Blog – Elena Perella # 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Guest Blog – Elena Perella

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

It’s always nice to hear from people who can relate to what I write. Today I had the privilege of speaking to Elena Perella from Italy.

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

We spent a while talking about common denominators within our works and reflections. From the outset we could appreciate what it means to be a victim and the processes of recovery. Furthermore, it was enjoyable to talk to a female who could understand the process associated with male depression and victimisation when it comes to abuse.

However, Elena offered a new view and approach on the relationship with depression and eating disorders. Of course, there is a clear link but there still seems to be little consideration on hearing the voice of those of whom have experienced and survived such conditions.

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

Elena has taken the time to write a brief introduction to her journey of which I am delighted to post on here. She has requested that you either take a look or at the very least forward it to someone you know that may appreciate and take comfort from her work.

 

For your ease her link is; www.sentidu.com

Guest Blog

Testament of courage: a woman’s story to overcoming violence and finding love

 

When I met him I immediately fell in love with him. He was so handsome, strong and charming. He had a loving, piercing glance that made me feel the most beautiful woman in the world. Something about him attracted me like a magnet. I had never felt that way. At that moment I was sure we were meant to be together. After many relationships with men who weren’t emotionally available, finally I got what I wanted: a man who loved me, just like I loved him. A man who made me feel good about myself, a man who listened to me and understood me. He seemed to know about life, about women, about how to care. During the first years of our relationship we spent a lot of time together. I was experiencing a dream…that I never thought would soon become a nightmare.

 

One day he decided to leave his job to give to his life another direction. Things didn’t unfold like he thought and the pressure he began to experience was strong enough to free what he had repressed his whole life: anger! His anger manifested itself in aggression. For I was the only one so close to him, I became his perfect, easy target. He began to attack me psycho-emotionally and verbally. I couldn’t believe that the man I loved and admired, the man who loved me so much could use violence against me. Initially they were sporadic episodes but in time they became an enduring routine. I was constantly under his power. I had no way to escape. I was pushed to a corner and forced to be verbally tortured. I cried and screamed, begging him to not to hurt me anymore.

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

I loved him, how could he be so cruel? I spent years under those terrible circumstances, hoping that he could change. In the beginning I forgave him because I believed one day he was going to open his eyes and see what this was doing to me. Unfortunately this didn’t happen. He kept abusing me psychologically and verbally over and over again. I started to get physically sick. I was losing my dignity and didn’t feel like a woman anymore. I lived in fear, constantly. Every sound made my heart leap. I knew that staying in that relationship was going to kill me. I was too scared to call the police because I knew his reaction would hurt me more – but to continue to tolerate violence wasn’t an option either. There had to be another solution!

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

Instead of getting discouraged, I decided to see that experience as a mirror. In some way I knew that I was the one who had allowed the violence into my life, but didn’t know how. The reason why was written into my heart. One day, while I was talking to a friend about my situation, I suddenly felt inside myself the answer I was looking for: I didn’t believe that I was worthy of being loved, therefore I attracted and forced myself to accept men who weren’t emotionally available and aggressive.

 

Becoming aware of this was such a relief! Suddenly everything fell into the right place. I began to work at myself to free my heart from the toxic conviction that was destroying my life. I learned to love myself and to believe I deserved to receive love. When I decided to keep distance from my partner the circumstances around me started to support my decision. It was amazing to see how powerful this process of change was! Step by step I freed myself from the chains that kept me imprisoned. I have now created a new life full of love and I hope that through sharing my experience to become an instrument to inspire other women and men to prevent and banish violence in their own lives

 

 

Daughters

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

Sugar and spice?

I remember as a small child going to a hairdresser to have my curly locks cut (for those of whom know me.. yes, I once had hair and quite a lot of it too). Nothing amazing I know but I recall the visit vividly because I recollect the girls working there saying (something like);

“Girls are made from sugar and spice and all things nice, and boys are created from snails and puppy dogs tails”

Okay, you might be able to quote the said line more accurate than I, but I knew at the time it not only made any sense (based on the few girls I knew) but it just felt like an injustice to measure boys as a negative image when the girls were painted with such niceties.

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

Although the quote didn’t burn deep within me it was a cause for comparison mainly through my youthful years.

Problem…? Sorted

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

As I write this I recall the viciousness of girls not only to boys but to each other.  You see, the issue as I saw it was that as a boy if I had a problem with another boy we either had a fight or just said something and (often) it was nipped in the bud. This was also the case with the boys I used to teach when I was a teacher. Now let me make this clear I am not advocating violence as a resolution to problems (far from it) but it was far more civilised and short lived from what I witnessed from girls.

As a child at school I witnessed the wickedness of how evil girls could be to other girls with psychological weapons. And if that didn’t work they then resorted to physical measures that contained no rules. For example, as a school kid there was an unwritten rule that you did not kick someone when they were down, and you did not pull hair. Yet, time and again I had witnessed girls breaking these rules repeatedly at the back of the school bus heading home.

Physical and psychological

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

Like I have previously stated in previous blogs the psychological aspect of abuse far outreached anything physical. To explain this further, my adopted mother often used the cane on my back or the back of my legs and buttocks. Although I can recall the stinging pain it soon past and it was eventually forgotten about. In fact, as I write this I think it hardened me up and made me the ‘tough guy’ I became when I joined the forces at 16. Yet, the psychological abuse I received from my ex-partner still resonates now. I still have issues with body image and self-value – in fact I have very little, if any.

Yet, many of the boys I fought against have grown up to be good men. They are what I would consider to be friends and I would offer my help if they should ever require it.

Schooling

Even during my school days I was sometimes hit by teachers who considered it to be okay and acceptable. Yet not once did a teacher hit a girl for the same offences. Whichever way you look at it, it was acceptable for teachers to assault on basis of gender. but gender had no relevance to mishaps or delinquency within the classroom. This enforcement of gender stereotypes was imposed within the supposed safety of an educational establishment. It was an utter contradiction to what education should have been about.

Generation

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

And yet, a generation passes and not a lot has changed. As a teacher, as previously stated, I had witnessed the effects of girl bullying. If their mental tactics did not break their victim then they would resort to bringing in allies such as other girls and boys to all target and alienate the victim. If that still failed to break the victim physical pains were introduced. Furthermore, and I was shocked by this, parents and family members became involved.

Gang culture

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

Since researching for this blog I have been informed that for many girls being in a gang is a form of protection. It was also brought to my attention that for some girls they felt compelled to either join in or take a step back as this took the focus away from them. In effect, for these girls they took the view that although it was bad they also felt that as long as they were picking on ‘them’ they were not picking on ‘me’. This of course would or may cause a lifetime of regret and guilt. Now I know that this is not a scientific finding but it is certainly food for thought.

To make a comparison I started at a new school when I was about 8 years old. It didn’t really come as a shock at the time, but I came into contact with (I suppose) bullies who were trying to establish some form of pecking order and wished for me to be at the bottom of it. Well it didn’t happen. I recall now punching the biggest boy clearly in the face and he ran away. Of course, I worried about it at the time but by break time I consider boundaries had been made and we were kicking a football around the playground. Even now, as an adult I have supported this boy/man in his recent break-up. I consider him a good friend. In fact, we still chuckle about it now and are often embarrassed that it ever happened at all.

Yet, and I have mentioned it in other blogs, that I know of girls I went to school with that are still suffering today. And we are all in our 40s now.

So what has change?

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

Well, if boys had a fight fists were used. However, today it is knives. This is not progress. It is barbaric and needs to be addressed forthwith.

But for some reason girls have found and discovered the power of social media. Who in a so called civilised society sees fit to film abuse of another and consider it ok to stick it on the internet for the whole world to see? This abuse for the victim will perpetuate for ever. There is no ending or conclusion to the assaults. I can also argue that these films show no evidence of any bystanders trying to stop the actions of the abuser (hence in my mind they are equally culpable).

So does the adage of ‘sugar and spice’ still apply?

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

According to Safer Schools research project (Friday, March 16, 2018) [http://www.keystosaferschools.com/anger-2/girl-violence] 1 out of 4 violent episodes are being perpetrated by teen girls. This is up from just a generation ago when it was 1 girl -10 boys. Therefore, it can be seen that girl violence is increasing from 1-10 and is now 1 out of every 4 violent episodes involves girls carrying it out.  According to the Justice Department, it is not just boys any longer, violence among girls is on the rise.

Schools also report a similar pattern in the number of girls suspended or expelled for fighting. Around the country schools, police and teachers are seeing a growing tendency for girls to settle disputes with their fists. They are finding themselves breaking up playground fights in which girls are going at each other at an alarming rate.

Although an American research council (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2003) carried out a review it still holds relevance to the English market. There appears to be evidence that we are seeing a change in girls’ violence, if one reviews trends in juvenile arrests. Between 1992 and 2003, girls’ arrests increased 6.4 percent while arrests of boys actually decreased by 16.4 percent. While decreases were seen across many crimes of violence for both boys and girls, the period saw a 7 percent increase in girls’ arrests for aggravated assault during a period that showed a 29.1 percent decrease in boys’ arrests for this offense. Likewise, arrests of girls for assault climbed an astonishing 40.9 percent when boys’ arrests climbed by only 4.3 percent

I would consider that although data has consistently shown that girls are now more engaged in violence than arrest statistics are indicating. I also consider that there was time when the police simply did not arrest girls for this behaviour, but that has now changed, due to policy shifts in enforcement.

A problem? Really?

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

In the past I witnessed teachers dismissing girls violence as being unrecognisable. For some people in authority it was easier to dismiss than to address the problem. As a result, careful analysis of trends in girls’ violence has failed to confirm that we face a dramatic increase in this troubling behaviour.

Girls to women.

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

There was an article written during the 1990s (I cannot recall where I read it) but it discussed the rise of the ‘Ladette’ culture. This branch of feminism (if you like) mirrored itself on male role models. It was expected to be able to drink, fight and even dress like men.  I must admit it was an exciting time – new music genres were created, and an appreciation of genders was increased. It was also a reaction against the idea of ‘women being the weaker sex’. By rejecting this concept the idea of sugar and spice was also shelved and forgotten. Yet boys were considered and accepted to be the troublesome sex. The gender of violence and lacking empathy for anything other than themselves.

Out on the town.

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

Sometimes working for the emergency services exposes you to the underbelly of society. Of course, I have attended a range of murders, assaults, suicided and so on. In fact, it has become the norm and so I consider that in some cases I have become immune to it all. However, I have not come to accept the states idea that women are not violent and have no part in violent assaults.

I often dread, like so many others, working over pay day weekend. It will not only be busy with regards to drink related injuries etc but I have seen and witnessed the violence carried out by women on both men and women. I have witnessed men being punched in the face by a woman and people will just walk by whilst the man tends to his bloody nose. I have also witnessed the damage of a women having half of her hair pulled out. Yet, still society is surprised and shocked by the revelation that women are violent in their own homes. And the police still insist on removing the man from the home of which he was the victim.

These actions, by not stopping the assault on the man or keeping her in the home of which she abused in has endorsed and imposed the idea of the woman being the gentler sex. Sugar and spice I suppose. Whereas the man has to live with the snails and puppy dogs tails when he is homeless because the state does not recognise his victim status.

Tender enough to be a father

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

I will say here and now that I love being a father. For me it has been a privilege. It has been hard but more rewarding than not. This view is nothing new as I know so many other men/fathers feel the same.

From the outset it was a wonderful feeling to wake in the night and feed my children or change a nappy. I also saw it as my duty to make the feeds and to walk my children to the shops or the park. As a strong believer in education I would read books to my children as soon as they understood the concept of a book.

Yet, in an instant you are seen as unfit, violent, aggressive and not fit to be a father once the mother thinks she can use this her trump card. All of your input, affections and love are meaningless and dismissed in the face of hostility. And yet, it is a common fact that children who are brought up without a father’s input often grow up to be troubled, problematic and sometimes criminal. So how does the gentler sex address this? They don’t and furthermore, they feel they don’t need to.

Men are idiots, but not all idiots are men.

Back in July 2017 I wrote a blog called ‘men are idiots, but not all idiots are men’. Within this text I argued that men really need to take a leaf out of women’s’ books. Men are very poor at sharing their feelings and hurts unlike women. Women have been able to develop communities of support whereby men just carry on until something gives. Usually their health and ultimately their lives.

My observations had found that men are rubbish at; taking medications and equally poor at admitting any form of medical conditions (especially depression and anxiety – men are not allowed to have depression vis-à-vis to be seen as weak). Furthermore, men are also lacking in admitting problems at home and even worse at realising that we are victims of domestic abuse.

But here I am going to make a revelation. Girls need to learn from boys. Boys with their snails and puppy dog tails know our place. Yet we do not venture out to linger misery on our male associates. If we have a problem we just deal with it – and it’s sorted.

Teachings

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

From the outset boys are taught that it is wrong to abuse and as they grow up they are taught not to gender stereotype and feel compelled to play an active role within family life – this is an active role from that of our fathers who considered that men work and women stay at home with the kids (afterall, women work now too).

Our daughters are precious… and so are our sons

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

Girls can also learn that spite is evil and the use of their gender to get their way is utterly immoral. This is a lesson boys can teach our daughters as they are equally precious whether as a girl or a woman. The protection of our sons is as important as the protection and safe keeping of our daughters. Thus, our daughters need the same education that violence whether physical or emotional is wrong especially in womanhood.