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.

Exhaustion

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

Regardless of who you are, we have all had times when we wake after few hours sleep and spend the rest of the night rolling around the bed getting angry with ourselves because we cannot get back to sleep. But imagine if this pattern became a routine and you know fully well, that when you go to bed within a few hours you will be awake again repeating the events of the night before. But what makes matters worse is that the resulting tiredness effects moods, concentration, thoughts and even appetite. So, your body ends up lacking nourishment and craving rest. Like an alcoholic or a drug user craving their new fix an exhausted person desires rest. Yet, unlike the drink/drug user there is no ready access to gaining support. When it is announced that you are suffering with fatigue all is offered is having a lazy day on your day off. But it not as simple as that. The lead up to exhaustion is more complex than just getting your eight hours sleep at night. There are overlapping and related factors that need to be considered.

Same problem, different name.

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

Like depression or domestic abuse, men fail to either recognise the signs or fail to admit that the problem exists. Indeed, following simple research I have found that exhaustion is extremely dangerous and is actually deadly. In some cases, exhaustion is a sign of an underlying disease, including cancer, low thyroid, anemia or other metabolic abnormalities, such as adrenal insufficiency. Exhaustion is commonly seen with depression and is a possible side effect of many prescription drugs, including beta blockers, muscle relaxants and mood stabilizers. However, given that depression also tends to involve lethargy and detachment, some have argued that burnout is just a stigma-free label for depression. In her book, Exhaustion: A History, Schaffner quotes one German newspaper article that claimed burnout is just a “luxury version” of depression for high-flying professionals. “Only losers become depressive,” the article continued. “Burnout is a diagnosis for winners, or, more specifically, for former winners.”

Suffer

Exhaustion, by any name, is hardly a new phenomenon. In the 1800s, women were said to suffer from hystero-neurasthenia, or “nervous exhaustion.” Triggers included excessive amounts of exercise, cohabitation, brain work and worries over motherhood, according to an 1887 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Women were also at risk if they worried too much about “impending or actual misfortune.”

In the 1950s, around the time women were having “nervous breakdowns,” scientists published research showing that it was, indeed, possible for business executives to suffer from exhaustion. Today the term burnout, which is characterized by emotional exhaustion, is recognized in Europe and is a common concern among those who work in the medical or humanitarian aid fields.

Four humours
Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Exhaustion

When Schaffner explored the historic literature, however, she found that people suffered from extreme fatigue long before the rise of the modern workplace. One of the earliest discussions of exhaustion was written by the Roman physician Galen (129 –  216 AD ). Like Hippocrates (460 –  370 BC), he believed that all physical and mental ailments could be traced to the relative balance of the four humours – blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. A build-up of black bile, he said, slowed the body’s circulation and clogged up the brain’s pathways, bringing about lethargy, torpor, weariness, sluggishness and melancholy. Although by modern standards and knowledge we now know it has no scientific basis, the idea that our brains are filled with a tar-like liquid certainly captures the foggy, clouded thinking that many people with exhaustion report today.

By the time Christianity had taken hold of Western culture, exhaustion was seen as a sign of spiritual weakness. Schaffner points to the writing of Evagrius Ponticus in the 4th Century, which described the ‘noonday demon’, for instance, that leads the monk to stare listlessly out of the window. “It was very much seen as a lack of faith and a lack of willpower – the spirit versus the flesh.” Schaffner also discovered a case of a monk compulsively and restlessly seeking out his brethren for idle chit-chat rather than engaging in useful employment – Is this not too dissimilar to the way that 21st-century sufferers may find themselves compulsively checking social media?

Modern views – class struggles

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

Religious and astrological explanations continued to abound until the birth of modern medicine, when doctors began diagnosing symptoms of fatigue as ‘neurasthenia’. It is now understood that nerves transmit electrical signals, so perhaps someone with weak nerves may therefore dissipate energy like a badly insulated wire. Intellectual figures from Oscar Wilde to Charles Darwin, Thomas Mann and Virginia Woolf were all diagnosed with neurasthenia. Doctors blamed it on the social changes of the industrial revolution, although delicate nerves were also seen as a sign of refinement and intelligence – some patients languished with pride in their condition. As stated previously, exhaustion is associated with success. To give it another comparison the rich are eccentric but the poor are mad.

In modern, industrial nations, a problem is that the main treatment for exhaustion — sleep — is often seen as laziness and being lazy is a barrier to productivity. In 1960, the average adult received a luxurious amount of sleep at eight and a half hours sleep a night. Today, most people get by on an average of less than seven hours, and a substantial proportion sleep less than six hours, according to National Sleep Foundation data.

Inevitable?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Exhaustion
But are periods of lethargy and detachment as inevitable a part of human life as head colds and hunger? There is no doubt that exhaustion is a pressing concern. A study of German doctors found that nearly 50% of physicians appeared to be suffering ‘burnout’, reporting, for instance, that they feel tired during every single hour of the day and that the mere thought of work in the morning left them feeling exhausted. Interestingly, men and women seem to deal with burnout in different ways: one recent Finnish survey found that male employees reporting exhaustion were far more likely to take extended sick leave than burned out women, for instance.

Like I have said at the begining, we have all had these moments. But to live with exhaustion is extremely difficult. Even more so when those around you do not have any idea what it is like. There have been times that I know I could not get through the day without a moments rest. In fact, the need to just stop often outweighs the need for food or drink. The need to sleep overshadows everything around me. As a result, a zombie like status emerges and the recognition of the world around you no longer makes sense or even exists. A sense of heaviness emerges and as a result the simplest of tasks literally sap any reserve energy out of you. Alongside the feelings of weariness also comes feelings of emotional despondency, disillusionment and hopelessness.

Although few countries tend to diagnosis neurasthenia today, the term is often used by doctors in China and Japan – again, with the occasional accusation that it is an alternative, stigma-free way of labelling depression.

Distinct

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

In general, however, the two conditions are generally considered to be distinct. It is generally agreed that depression entails a loss of self-confidence, or even self-hatred or self-contempt, which is not the case for burnout, where the image of the self often remains unbroken. The anger felt in a burnout is generally not turned against the self but rather against the organisation or persons who are seen as the cause of the problem (for example, work or the ex). Nor should burnout be confused with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which involves prolonged periods of excruciating physical and mental exhaustion for at least six months.



Some data suggest “vital exhaustion,” or a state of excessive fatigue, irritability and hopelessness, can be a risk factor for heart attacks and death. Dutch researchers found that people with high vital exhaustion scores were three times as likely to suffer a subsequent heart attack, perhaps because it increases blood clotting.

I suppose I could give you some obvious advice and suggest you visit the doctor should you develop these symptoms over a significant period. Indeed, you should. But the battle to disassociate ourselves from any form of illness seems to be the norm for many people. In essence, I should state that tiredness does indeed go hand in hand with depression. The two factors together, however, are a burden of which carries a heavy weight upon a daily existence and routine. True fatigue cannot be cured by sleep alone like telling a depressed person to pull themselves together. To me that is the same as telling an obese person to think themselves thin.

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?

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. 

Settling back

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

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

Just reflecting

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

Great works of fiction

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

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

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

Was you away??

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

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

Hello

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

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

It’s all so familiar

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

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

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

Different strokes for different folks

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

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

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

Better differences

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

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

Phased return

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

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

What I am saying

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

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

 

 

Human Progress and Isolation

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

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

To challenge a view

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

A slice of bread

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

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

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

Where did that come from?

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

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

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

One long season

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

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

Village/town/city structures

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

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

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

A new religion

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

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

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

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

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

Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forgotten

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

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

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

24 hour daytime

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

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

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

So where is this discussion leading to?

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

Animal studies

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

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

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

An unpleasant emotion

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

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

Social agony

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

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

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

Suicide risks

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

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

Loneliness and social isolation in the United Kingdom

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

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

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

Isolation and suicide rates

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

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

The WHO further reports that:

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

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

90%

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

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

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

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

Therefore…

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

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

 

 

 

Histrionic Personality Disorder

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

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

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

So what was the topic of the conversation?

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

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

Craving attention

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

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

Centre point

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

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

It’s all about me

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

Mental condition

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

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

Me, me, me

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

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

Experience

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

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

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

Such a nice person…not

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

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

Hey, give me a minute

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

Extreme

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

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

Rewards

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

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

PRAISE ME

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

P – provocative (or seductive) behaviour

R – relationships, considered more intimate than they are

A – attention, must be at centre of

I – influenced easily

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

E – emotional liability, shallowness

 

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

E – exaggerated emotions – theatrical

Negative and positive

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

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

Roots

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

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

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

So what do I know?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By their own hands

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

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

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

Biggest cause of death for 15-35 year olds

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

Not just a western problem

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

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

Early records

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

Doubled

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

Men and women

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

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

Elderly

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

Global burden

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

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

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

Tools of the trade

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

Stigma

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

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

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

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.