Fatherhood

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

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

Common thread

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

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

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

Useless and inept?

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

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

Stereotype

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

Economic reasons

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

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

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

Other factors

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

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

An active role (model)

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

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

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

Evolution not revolution

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

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

An utterley flawed theory

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

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

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

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

A reason to exclude

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

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

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

Break-ups

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

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

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

An exception, not the rule

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

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

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

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

Access beyond poverty

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

Home rights and work rights

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

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

The Power of a Poster

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

A painfully Slow Process

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

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

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

In My Lifetime – Doubt it

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

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

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

Is that it, just a poster?

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

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

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

Male Victims Do Not Exist

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

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

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

Domestic Abuse Is A Health Issue For Men Too

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

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

A World Wide Disgrace

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

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

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

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

Gender issues

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

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

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

What do (all) survivors of domestic abuse want?

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

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

The need for a political Entrepreneur

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

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

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

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

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

Change is not inevitable

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

A consequence

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

It’s easier to just give up

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

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

Bankrupt

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

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

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

It’s all obvious

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

Utopia

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

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

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

Dreams

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

Blood sports

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

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

Lust for blood

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

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

Possible equal outcomes

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

Opium for the masses

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

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

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

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

Hero worship

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

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

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

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

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

Profits over people

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

Win/win everytime

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

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

Because I said so…

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

Lets (never) see that again from another angle

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

 

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

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

 

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. 

Guest Blog – Elena Perella # 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Motherhood

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

The term motherhood, or mother, holds so many connotations, views, memories and experiences. Indeed, the whole concept of motherhood can be a personal one. So, I suppose I should stress now that the words that I will hereon write will be own and not meant to offend or cast sweeping statements.

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

The role of the mother has varied across time, culture, and social class.  Historically, the role of women was confined to some extent to be a mother and wife. It was often expected that a woman would dedicate most of their energy to these roles, and to spend most of their time taking care of the home. In many cultures, women received significant help in performing these tasks from older female relatives, such as mothers in law or their own mothers.

Examples

It is easy to say that our knowledge and expectations come from our experiences and whilst I write this I can think of a series of example that are directly associated with myself.

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

I remember my grandmother (Joan) on my mother’s side (my paternal grandmother had died before I was born) holding very simplistic ideas and explanations. I am not saying she was educationally disadvantaged but she was certainly a product of an early to mid-twentieth century working class girl.

Apron (and sometimes rollers)

I always knew that if she was not wearing her flowery apron it usually meant that we were heading to a ‘posh’ outing that included her drinking copious amounts of babysham or snowballs. A variant came when she discovered the coconut delights of Malibu with coke. Yet, my adopted father’s mother (who was middle class) would never have been seen wearing such a garment or attending such functions

Joan’s life had been measured by the deep and heavy lines on her face and the toll of having eight children. it must have had an impact upon her body. In fact, from my earliest memories of her she had always appeared old before her years. Compared to women today of a similar age.

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

I had never really talked to her much about her younger life but I was later informed that there was some sort of ‘difficulty’ of which was never fully explained to my satisfaction.

Violent marriage

I am fully aware, however, that her working class, inner city upbringing during the early twentieth century had been hard, rough and unforgiving. As a result, it was of no surprise that she married a man of equal social background and, I must confess, a tendency to use violence as a form of household control.

With violence being the main currency of control, the burden of eight children, poverty and social expectations divorce was not an option. So I consider that many of the children were exposed to emotional and physical violence at a rate that would not be expected or tolerated today.

Like mother… like daughter

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

As I have previously stated my experiences with my mother were far from positive and I think the relationship with her was often tempered by the kindness of my adopted father. I am not making an excuse for her, but my experiences of motherhood did not reflect that of what was expected. I find it ironic that even during the 1970s and 1980s motherhood was seen as being loving, warm and protecting yet it was the complete opposite in my own home. Love, warmth and protection did not spout from her or her arms – it was found within my adopted father. Yet, she found it impossible, even many years later, that as a mother she had failed where others had succeeded. In her view she was a mother and that was her occupation as opposed to privilege or duty.

If I could have had the choice I would rather have been bought up by my father than my mother. All the expectations associated with how a mother should behave was found in my father and poignantly, not my mother. Yet social constructs and expectations forbade him to stay at home and for his wife to earn the family income.

Conflicts

History records many conflicts between mothers and their children. Some even resulted in murder, such as the conflict between Cleopatra III of Egypt and her son Ptolemy X.

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

In modern cultures, matricide (the killing of one’s mother) and filicide (the killing of one’s son or daughter) have been studied but remain poorly understood. Psychosis and schizophrenia are common causes of both, but I have a strong objection to associating mental health with crimes of such a nature – it all seems too convenient.  Financially poor mothers with a history of domestic abuse are slightly more likely to commit filicide than those of whom didn’t. And mothers are more likely to commit filicide than fathers when the child is 8 years old or younger (Greenfeld, Lawrence A., Snell, Tracy L. (1999-02-12, updated 2000-03-10). “Women Offenders”. NCJ 175688. US Department of Justice).

Liberation

The role of motherhood in mainly western countries had developed with the successes of ‘the women’s liberation movements’. These developments reflected the collective pressure of frustration that had been imposed upon womanhood for centuries. It was only after the importance that women showed during the two world wars that a loud chorus of demand for equal rights gained a revolutionary status.

Generations

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

When I consider the eventual positions of my adopted father, his father and his father in law, they must have both been taken aback by the bitterness and animosity shown towards men and fatherhood. I consider that my grandfathers (more than my father) would not have previously realised that their inherited presumptions and dispositions had become so offensive.

They must have taken for granted the gender roles imposed upon them from the generation before them. But to have the entire blame for inequality and suppression laid at their feet must have been either bemusing or at worst offensive. I think it would have been fair to consider that many men and fathers would not have thought themselves to have been intentionally exploitative but to have carried out the responsibilities placed upon them by society as a whole.

Saying nothing

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

I think that because of the bewilderment of the accusations made against them, men had really said very little about what was going on. Certainly, even today, any media coverage given to this topic is far outweighed by the amount given to women having their say. As a point of note, there has been no sign of a collective male counter demand of equality on fatherhood yet fathers seek equality in the family courts – and don’t get it.

The science of a hunch

The rise of science has also ignored the concept of fatherhood over motherhood. One of the main reasons for this neglect of fathers lies in early psychological theories of parenthood. Theories are ‘hunches’ and so are always under scrutiny but can also constrain us and lead us away from examining some problems in favour of others. The scientific problem was that fathers were not just forgotten but were ignored because it was assumed that they were less important than mothers in influencing the developing child. Hence the dominant theories at the time corresponded with the traditional conception of the family and the gender roles played.

One of Freud’s important notions was the concept of different gratifications associated with different body zones. For example, Freud thought that the mouth was associated with eating, sucking, biting and swallowing of which is a basic requirement of a new born. And as it was the role (and biological framework) of the mother to feed the infant, Freud gave the primary role of child rearing to the mother. Freud considered that a father’s role at this early stage was irrelevant and as a result divorced the role of fatherhood from this crucial period in a child’s life.

John Bowlby’s view of early childhood differed from Freud’s but the end result was the same – father’s were secondary and only played a supporting role to the mother. Yet it is well known that Bowlby’s views were flawed as it played a primary role of returning the mother to the home to make way for returning soldiers to gain employment after the war.

Caretaking

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

Yet, it would be a mistake to conclude that there is anything biologically necessary about maternal caretaking. In some cultures, males and females divide the care of their young equally. Among the Trobrianders of Melanesia, for example, the father participates actively in the care, feeding and transporting of their young. Similarly, the Taira of Okinawa, the Pygmies of Africa and the Ilocos of the Philippines equally share the child care between parents. Would it not be fair, therefore, to suggest that the roles played by mothers and fathers are not biologically fixed. Instead the definition of gender roles can vary depending upon the social, ideological and physical conditions imposed in different cultures?

Even within animal cultures the father plays an important role within the early stages of childhood. It has been found that Marmosets and Tamarins (monkeys from central and South America) are equally involved. They not only carry their infants during the day for the first few months of life, but often chew food for the very young and sometimes assist during the birth. This is also evident amongst the Barbary macaques of Asia and Africa and rhesus monkeys when given the opportunity.

Gender superiority

There is no definitive evidence to support any gender claim of superiority within any occupational role. For our forefathers they could claim exceptions in the military or where muscle power was a pre-requisite. However, these claims are now eroded with the developments of technology that have levelled the work force horizons. Yet fathers can not seek equality in the home with regards to child rearing.

In theory, therefore, if men can and have abandoned the centuries held beliefs of gender roles there is no good reason why women cannot welcome the progressive, even revolutionary concept of men playing the loving, caring and nurturing role associated with womanhood/motherhood.

Uninvolved?

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

Traditionally fathers have been portrayed as uninvolved and leaving the child rearing to the mother. Whether this stereotype of the uninvolved father ever actually existed is debatable. But over the past fifty years (or longer) there has been a continuing rise for greater participation of fathers willingly stepping into the territory of mothers.

Today, and probably in earlier generations there has been no single type of father. Some fathers do indeed remain uninvolved, others are active participants and some fathers, like myself, even raised children by themselves. And yet we have an inbreed expectation that there is one kind of mother. I suppose this is why we, as a society are shocked when a mother carries out a crime against their off spring (for example the case of Shannon Matthews in 2008).

There is also in theory no clear reason why the reorganisation would have any detrimental effect upon the sexes. The preconceived ideas of differentiation of the sexes is rapidly disappearing. But there are no signs yet that relationships are improving especially after relationship breakdowns. On the contrary, such indicators as the rate of divorce suggests that the battle is far from over and that the casualties (the children) are not decreasing. Transformation of equal attitudes and expectations still has a considerable way to go.

So what am I saying?

Like most things in life there is good and bad. There are some good men and equally some bad ones. But this fact must also rest with women. Just because they hold the title of ‘Mother’ does not automatically associate them with a good standard of care of their infants. This theory must also rest with the fact that fathers do indeed want to play an equally important role with their children.

Forced

Society expects and demands equality, and this is enforced by the law. And yet, fathers are still forced to appear in court to fight to see their children. Fathers are still stopped access on the whim of a mother who is still assumed to be the better parent.

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

How are our children going to develop and become good parents themselves when these constraints are still evident? If the equality of parenthood does not change now then our children’s children will still be exposed to outdated philosophies that we have all tried to move away from. In essence, fathers can and are as equally important as mothers, to the same effect that women are equally good at the jobs that our fathers specialised in.

 

Recovery

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

Very often a change in your views or conceptions doesn’t actually hit you until something ‘clicks’ in your head. This is very much like the recovery process of which I wish to discuss.

Like the stages of mourning, there is a process that a person must endure before they can either move on or consider themselves cured from the grief that they had experienced.

5 stages of mourning

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

Put simply Kubler Ross and David Kessler described the five stages as; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But most importantly they are not checkpoints on a linear timeline.

Writing the sequal

Last week I had a chat with one of my potential publishers. It was during this conversation that I informed him that I had started work on a sequel to my book (which incidentally will be called Silent Story). Almost at that point I had realised that I had, indeed, moved onto a new stage.

In essence, I had stopped trying to work out why things had happened but had now tried to understand why things are the way they are. I was no longer a victim but a veteran with a story to tell with a benefit of hindsight. I didn’t have to try and understand why things were the way they were but to try and find a science or formula to share or to understand.

Early work

When I read and re-read my earlier material, I can see and hear the distress and pain that the events had caused. There were so many questions I was seeking answers for and it became a maelstrom of paths and directions I needed to venture down to try and make sense of it all. Yet my later writings were an attempt to answer those questions and to try and gain some form of perspective.

However, it is impossible to identify at what point this change happened. Like the mourning process I mentioned above it became organic and was a slow process.

Recovery

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

But I will now argue that I am sitting comfortably in the recovery zone.

Several weeks ago. I asked if I could return to work but on light duties due to a back injury I sustained. Unfortunately for me there was nothing available, so I just came home and focused my working energy on the publication of my book. Finally, it was decided that I had recovered enough to consider going back to work (on a phased return). However, I had so much leave to take that it was decided to take some prior to my return otherwise I would lose it. So, as I write this I am coming to the end of a period of leave as opposed to a period of sickness. That for me shows a tangible example of recovery.

Ups and downs

A viciously intense roller-coaster of emotions and experiences is how most victims would describe their time spent with an abuser. You’d hope then, that once you break free of their grip, this unpleasant ride would come to an end…but you’d be wrong.

The ups and downs tend to continue long after you’ve left them behind, as if their poison still courses through your veins. Recovery from abuse is just like any other form of mental or physical recovery – it takes time and determination for the wounds to heal.

 Healing the wounds

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

My research identified that abuse in all of its forms, affects so many people that it is too horrifying to comprehend. Yet, I have shown that once you leave the relationship the problems don’t just end there. Time and again in my earlier blogs I have demonstrated and highlighted the consequences of the psychological anguish. Physical assaults don’t just end with a punch or kick, they too become a mental suffering when flashbacks occur. It is similar to a pebble being dropped into a pond. The splash is all too evident, but the ripples are the consequence of that initial violent, penetrative action.

My dreams are no longer focused on nightmares but on future events and potential adventures. I now rest with an element of comfort that there is a strong possibility of a restful night’s sleep. This, only a few months ago was something that I had longed for.

Guilt, shame and blame

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

When I first decided to write I was instantly told by friends and colleagues that I was taking a brave but right step. Indeed, I was expecting some form of backlash. But (to date) I have not. I have had comments from around the world (thank god for the internet) that a majority of what I have written is what a lot of people wish they could say. For me it was the only path available to try and find answers. I searched bookshops and the internet for what I needed. And as there was nothing I decided to write my own.

For me I had lost everything in a moment and so I had nothing else left to loose. And with great confidence I can argue that it has been the best thing I have ever done. I have been able to address old issues, vent my anger and frustrations and reached out to people I would never have had the chance to previously.

Self blame

But, like so many others I too blamed myself for allowing the abuse to occur and continue for as long as it did. Survivors feel guilty for not allowing their better judgement to take over. Unfortunately, I have also found that others blame the survivors for allowing themselves to be victims in the first place. These emotions increase the survivor’s negative self-image and distrustful view of the world.

My advice is that these criticisers should celebrate the wonderful life they have had. It is only luck that has protected them so far. Ultimately, luck does run out and it is the victims they will seek out for comfort and protection when their time comes. In my view life is too fragile to be complacent.

Family Members

I am probably not qualified enough to comment about family members when it comes to my own family back ground.

I was always led to believe that family should stick together regardless of what has happened. Yet, in my case this was not the case.

My children have been fantastic. At no point was their loyalty questionable. Yet, my recovery process found the flaws in my (biological) father.

The knight in rusty armour

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

To put this simply, if I was not related to him I would not have had him as a friend. It was only the recovery process that allowed me to see things from behind a veil. I would never have a friend who would consider women as a tool for the home or a son as a meal ticket. But I was not being instantly dismissive of him as I gave him chance after chance. It’s just that I was no longer prepared to be taken advantage of, especially when he opted to be the heroic knight to a vengeful and bitter ex abuser.

My recovery allowed for me to put people in order of preference based on how they treated me. I was no longer grateful for a glimmer of recognition, but I felt that my worth was far greater than I was being afforded by him. Since writing my last blog I found out that he had suffered another stroke. Interestingly enough, my brother who had previously warned me about him was unable (or unwilling) to visit him and my father is fully aware that he has shot himself in the foot with regards to his relationship with me. It’s a shame really as I had spent 40 years trying to find him. But it was he who opted to behave in an unfatherly way.

Indeed a narcissistic ex-partner can be so persuasive and calculating that your own family will blame you for the breakdown of a relationship. But my father had equal knowledge of us both due to the time we had known each other. But a flash of tit and a wisp of blonde hair and I had lost him.

He who has the last laugh…..

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

But my recovery has allowed me to see them both for what they are. My dad is now alone, and my ex has a new prey. Well as the stronger person I wish them all the best when trying to either play the victim (again) or the superhero of nothing. I won’t say I am laughing but there is a slight curl in the corner of my lip.

Equal Measure

The freedom of recovery can be both liberating and disheartening in equal measure and it will often shift back and forth from one to the other. For me the liberation came when I did not have to seek justification for the behaviour of others. It was a great weight lifted from my shoulders. Yet, this development came with the cost that fake dreams of happiness were just that – fake.

So many people wish for the 2.5 children, a nice semi-detached house in a respectable area with a nice car (or two) on the drive. The reality is nothing like this. To obtain a dream you often have to endure a nightmare and then there is no guarantee. It appears that behind every closed door a story is developing and it is often not the story the characters wish to play. The progression of recovery indicates that it is important to be happy with what you have and any positive developments just add to the pleasure. This approach just makes life so much easier. It is both simplistic and helps to avoid pain and disappointment.

Rebuilding

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

The art of rebuilding yourself takes a significant amount of time. For me it had required the big step of facing my demons. These demons were the remnants of the abusive ex; the scars she had left and the false beliefs about myself that grew out of this experience.

Rebuilding is not a straightforward task. Some days it felt as if I was making leaps and bounds. But then it was often followed by days of not wanting to venture out of the bed of which mirrored the early days of my recovery. Alas, there is no straight answer to this. I found that elation and celebration often gave way to fatigue or loss of appetite. But sitting here, right now, I can see that these episodes are getting less and less with the realisation that things are falling into place now. Being and remaining positive is an exhausting occupation of which is great to have but tiresome to maintain when you have not fully recovered.

Retribution

As I have previously said, I have looked back on previous blogs and noticed a shift in my approach to justice. Initially I was so angry and venomous about my ex that it was becoming all consuming. Indeed my focus had changed and I am glad it has.

I have come to realise that a person who does not wish to change never will. For her being abusive is profitable both financially and emotionally. If a person plays the victim they will get sympathy – that is until people get smart to their games. As you know it transpired that she had a history of such actions, and so it has come to pass that my fight could not be with her. My fight had to be with the system that allowed this behaviour to persist unchallenged and unhindered.

As a result I focused my attentions to the police officers that dealt with my case and the social workers that threw their weight around unchallenged.

Just a little shift in focus

This new focus has been more productive and has shed a greater light on the processes that are so wrong.

I know to the reader it may sound evil when I say ‘I am delighted that I got a social worker sacked’. It is a big achievement when the system is stacked against you. But, indeed I got one sacked. My recovery gave me the confidence to know that I was right about the injustice I had experienced. Unfortunately, I cannot name the specific social worker but when he said; ‘how dare I challenge him when he is a social worker’ it was like a red rag to a bull and I went out of my way to prove his unprofessionalism.  But what came as a shock after the event was that he knew he was wrong and gave a false name to try and deflect what was coming. My recovery allowed me to challenge him and gave me peace of mind when I knew a corrupt social worker was now out of the system.

Learning development

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

In fact my drive for truth, equality and justice has now put me on first name terms with a senior police officer at Worcester Police station. I am realistic in knowing that full justice may never be achieved but we have come to an understanding that a learning development is required by his police officers.

Again, I’m not out for early morning arrests or punishments. Time has allowed me to consider that my recovery is the knowledge that the next victim may have better treatment than I experienced. Indeed, the fight with the authorities and my ex is not over but I am seeing a realisation that what they (the police, social services and CPS) did was wrong. And I am starting to feel comfortable with this because the fight has come with a heavy cost.

Listen and be heard

My recovery and open, frank conversations has allowed me to know that she is being monitored about her future accusations and behaviours. In essence she is being watched. Perhaps, by being able to challenge pre-conceived ideas or measure the authorities by their own standards has made them sit up and listen. I knew I had been wronged and I was not going to let it go. It’s not about being pig-headed it is about demanding to be heard (even if I have solicited an interest from the press). To do this you need to have confidence and to have confidence you need to be on the road to recovery.

Questioning

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

It is all too easy to beat yourself up and subject yourself to self-anger for overlooking things which are now plain to see. Of course, everything is clear in hindsight. I suppose this is why I set out to write in the first place. I wanted to be able to reflect on my own hindsight. But I also wanted to let other readers experience my hindsight and experiences.

These works have been my ability to shout and to point. My recovery has been the ability to do so.

Perhaps by now I have moved on. I am getting ready to return to work. I am planning a holiday of lifetime (of which was inconceivable until recently) and my future writing is now acknowledged to be from a different standpoint from that of the beginning.

For me the recovery has been a process of no return. Put simply I have learnt so much of which still needs to be developed. And so the recovery process will forever continue. Which of course is not actually a bad thing.

 

 

Guest Blog – Blithe Conway

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Guest Blog - Blithe Conway

Other writers

When I look back on the past few months whilst writing these blogs of mine I have come into contact with a number of people who wish to share their story with me.  Some are deeply interesting and insightful. Others are shocking in their detail and then there are some that make you grateful for the honesty and frankness of their experiences.  We really are lucky to have these kinds of writers around who are willing to discuss and share their experiences in the hope to benefit others. This is why, when asked, I was happy to share his story on my website.

Pen name

One particular (new) blogger is Blithe Conway. For obvious reasons he chose to use a pen name. Blithe came into contact with me a few weeks ago now expressing his interest in sharing stories about surviving abuse and mental health. Of course, it has been difficult to suggest specific paths because each have their own, but I have tried to guide and suggest ideas and thoughts or which he has been receptive.

However, Blithe has made some magnificent steps to release some his demons in the form of writing them down. It has helped him by not only sharing them but to trying and get some form of understanding to what had happened.

Failings

At no point has Blithe attempted to proportion blame of which is deeply admirable. But his writing is frank, open, honest and deeply thought provoking about the society he lived in. He has discussed the persistent failings of the authorities  who found any reason to dismiss him rather than doing the honourable thing and listen. But then this is not an unusual consequence of a fearful state.

I wish to share his story that he initially wrote in 2015 about his experiences of abuse at home and to see if I can establish more links for him.

Open up the discussion

Now, this is not just ‘another’ story. But Blithe has attempted to open up the discussion of abuse in the home and how it has affected him as a male. He has also taken the steps to suggest sensible changes in the law to not only protect victims but also to ensure that voices are never over looked or forgotten.

I am sure he won’t mind me suggesting that you contact him via Facebook (Blithe Conway).

Anyway, have a read of a link he sent me and send him your regards

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/6s99omuh5l5c9ry/Child%20Labour%20in%20Eastern%20Australia%20by%20Blithe%20Conway.pdf?dl=0

The Quiet Man – Nature Verses Nurture

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture

It was the rain tapping against the window that woke me this morning. I didn’t really have much planned to do today so I intended to sleep in for a while longer than normal. But, as stated this wasn’t the case. As I could hear the rain it dawned on me that I don’t like rain. Don’t get me wrong, it would never stop me going out – unless it was torrential. But I find it uncomfortable getting wet and it’s just an all-round hindrance. Furthermore, it leaves me with the dilemma of what to wear. If I wrap up it will, undoubtable get warm later.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Rainy days

But where did this dislike of rain come from? I was never actively instructed to dislike rain. It just developed. After all, where does the dislike of spiders come from? We are lucky here in England as we have very few venomous creatures to avoid. So, the English fear of spiders is clearly irrational. But this brings me straight to the question – where do we acquire such feelings and thoughts?

Natural father

If you recall, I went into some detail about my relationship with my natural father. He had absolutely no input into my upbringing. As a child and a young adult, he was a shadow. It was only later when I reached 40 that my thoughts became flesh and I had finally found him. We had a few similarities as we both liked history and the arts. We were also within the medical profession. But on reflection that was pretty much it.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Outdated views

I drew the line at his outdated views of the roles of women. We were poles apart politically. I was quiet and he was loud. He just loved the attention. Especially female attention. He took advantage and I was happy to supply. But my views and personality must have been shaped somehow by someone.

Nature verses nurture

Whilst realising that the rain made almost rhythmical patterns it dawned on me that I was stuck in the question of nature verses nurture. There are indeed parts of me that are unidentifiable. I just don’t know where these features come from. But there are others I can directly attribute to key figures in my life.

And this is where I want to reach today. I want to talk about my adopted father.

(Adopted) Father’s father

My adopted father was a good man. He had acquired a lot of his father’s traits. Both were well-spoken and gentle. My grandfather (for ease I will address him as so) always wore a cardigan regardless of the weather and this gave him an endearing character. When he laughed his shoulders would rise and fall – and what was nice, was that he did this often.

Days spent with my grandfather always seemed sunny and I utterly adored him. He would hold my hand and I would smile so any opportunity to spend time with him was always welcome.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Holding hands

I never met his wife as she died two years before I was born, but I know he missed her. I know this because he told me. He had a black and white photograph of her in a frame on the mantelpiece. She was also beautiful. Typical of her time with her hair in a fashionable bob. I also knew that he talked to the picture because I heard him one morning. This made him seem vulnerable yet loveable in equal measure.

He smoked because he lived in a time when it was expected. He loved classical music but enjoyed sharing my tapes (remember them?). Musically, I introduced him to the Pet Shop Boys and he introduced me to Puccini. Food wise, I introduced him to prawn cocktail crisps and he introduced me to chocolate limes. I still love those sweets. But he treated me as an equal of which was lacking at home.

He passed away in 1988 after finally admitting he had cancer. He had known for a while but didn’t want to make a fuss. Not making a fuss finally killed him. But this was typical of him. He would allow me to watch my programmes when he wanted to watch the news or we would eat chocolate instead of salad. I never really recovered losing him. He was really loved by me. As a result, I gave my son his middle name as homage when he was born. It was such a shame that the two never met.

His father’s best features

My adopted father had acquired his father’s best features. He was middle class in ideals and nature. Soft and caring. During my formative years I had considered him to be the most intelligent man ever to have lived. He could explain mathematical problems to me of which I struggled with at school. He could make a sideboard out of an old wardrobe. Furthermore, he tried to see the good in everyone. And that was the problem.

What did they see in each other?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Mismatch

My adopted mother (and I don’t want to go into much detail about her here, that’s a blog for another time) was the complete opposite. Where she screamed he just spoke, where she beat he just shook his head. In reality, I just cannot see how they ever got together. He was middle class in character, yet she was spit and saw dust, working class.

I have often considered that I took the beatings for him. Which was wrong. Many years after I had stood up to her and the beatings had stopped, she was admitted into hospital for a stomach problem. It was nothing major but it required her to be admitted for a few days. It was during this time that he spoke to me in-depth.

I recall us walking through the park on the way to the shops and it was during this walk that he revealed that she was a troubled woman. It took me by surprise, because I had never expected to hear this from his mouth. Furthermore, it had cemented my view of her after all.

Cut me, do I not bleed?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Do I not bleed?

From this point, I knew a mother’s love was not what I had come to accept. It was also a time when it dawned on me that he was not as intelligent as I had considered him to be. He could have stopped the physical chastisement by her hand. Why had he not stepped up to the mark and supported me during the difficult times of my identity struggles? But he didn’t. Why? Well that’s simple, he was too nice to have done any of that. He just wanted the quiet life.

I suppose we would call it ‘hen-pecked’ today. But he was out of his depth with what to do. He had in effect, put his head in the sand to deny any of it. And here lie the similarities. His father had done it before him (cancer) and I had done it with my depression and abuse.  It is only now that I realise this. I had acquired his character. I also wanted the quiet life.

This was not a dreadful thing to have. I would rather be like him than her. But my character dictated my future. I could fight if I had to (adopted mother characteristic) which protected me from being bullied at school. But my failure to admit problems came from him.

Challenged

A few years ago, I took the step to directly highlight my adopted mother’s failures. I identified that comfort and care had been restricted and rationed. Her treatment of me over their child had been unequal and harsh.

I really wanted her to admit it and to try and help me build bridges with her. But her response didn’t come as a surprise. She rejected my claims and dismissed any further comments I had to make. She just failed to identify or admit any failure on her part. Yet she made it clear that I should forever be in her debt and it was my duty to identify this.

Unfortunately, my adopted father was present and as expected he said nothing. He neither defended me or her. And that didn’t come as a surprise either.

Good-bye and God bless

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Goodbye, god bless

A week or so later my adopted father came to my house. We sat alone in the living room whilst he drank tea. I knew this was his good-bye. We spoke about things that had bothered me and he calmly listened and considered what I had said. Ultimately though, he had to conclude that she was his wife and that he could not be seen to side with anyone but her.

I accepted this as I knew from the moment he arrived at my door that this would have been the case.

I never saw either of them ever again. To give her up meant I had to lose him too. It was, alas, a price that I had to pay.

This and that

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
keep calm – I’m adopted

There are many things I disliked about my adopted father. He was weak and never really spoke his mind. The opportunity to stop the physical punishments were missed by him. Chances to treat the children equally had passed by.

Yet, I hope that I have the best of him. I hope that I am sensitive when its needed. It would be great if my children thought I was intelligent. His loyalty was obvious. He was just a nice man – simple.

If this is the case (I’m sure people will be quick to tell me otherwise), then parts of the nurture debate are true. I made a positive decision to not be like my adopted mother, and to date I don’t think I am. But I want to care and love and I want to hide from the horrors of life. And that was who he was.