The Alienated Parent – An Open Letter

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

To whom it may concern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours…..

The End

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

The End

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

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

History Paths

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

Words

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

Journey

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

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

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

Fear the truth

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

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

A lack of interest

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

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

A dystopian future

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

The end

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

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

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

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

And finally

What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

 

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.

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

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

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

Murder by any means

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

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

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

Legal view

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

Utter arrogance

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

Was it because he was a man?

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

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

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

Lets make the rules up as we go along

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

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

When has gender been a defence?

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

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

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

Punishments

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

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

Pick and choose

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

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

Pointless exercise

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

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

Out of date statistic

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

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

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

A circus… but who is the clown?

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

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

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

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

Health

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

Homelessness

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

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

It really is a disgrace

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

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

Blood sports

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

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

Lust for blood

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

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

Possible equal outcomes

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

Opium for the masses

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

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

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

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

Hero worship

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

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

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

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

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

Profits over people

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

Win/win everytime

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

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

Because I said so…

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

Lets (never) see that again from another angle

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

 

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

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

 

Stereotypes feed into injustice

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

With the advantage of social media and the ability to be able to spread ideas and thoughts further than ever before, certain topics become more visible.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

For several months I have followed (from a distance) the rise and calling out of injustice. From the start of time educated people have known that injustices have happened. We can identify with the scapegoating of the people who lived outside of social norms to be labelled as witches and treated as such with burning and hangings. Furthermore, we can identify with more modern events such as the holocaust of the 1930s and 40s. Again this injustice has been allowed to repeat in countries such as (formally) Yugoslavia, states in Africa and so on.

Two sides of the same coin

But is the idea of justice and injustice two sides of the same coin? Is it that injustice is simply a lack of justice?  If we expect to balance injustice then we need to address what we know to be justice. And this can be a difficult event to deal with when your idea of justice has been diluted and abused by those of whom should have done the right thing in the first place.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

The rules of injustice are difficult to comprehend to a law abiding society. From an early age a sense of justice and injustice is indoctrinated into us. A 2012 study published in Psychological Science found that even babies have a sense of injustice and dislike having it violated, even when they witness events that do not directly effect them (Maia Szalavitz (20th February 2012). “Even Babies Can Recognize What’s Fair: Babies as young as 19 months are affronted when they see displays of injustice”. Time Magazine).

Religious texts

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

It is even found within religious texts, for example, in the book of Deuteronomy, it explains that the godly person;

‘shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water… and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so; but are like chaff which the wind driveth away’.

Devastation

To be precise about this matter a feeling of injustice, on a personal level is devastating. A sense of injustice is a feeling that the rules of justice have been violated. These are rules which dictate that if we are honourable, we will be rewarded and that if we are bad, we will be punished.

Absurd

If in life we act correctly but still suffer at the hands of those who don’t we feel excluded from the rights of justice and therefore, vulnerable in every other walk of life. The whole world in which we have lived in seems absurd and unrecognisable.

Thinking on two fronts

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

It becomes expected that the victim of this nightmare thinks on two fronts. Firstly, you may think that you had done wrong without knowing and this is why you are being punished. Or, alternatively, you know that you have not done anything wrong and that you have fallen victim to a catastrophic failure in the administration of justice.

The voice of the majority

Time after time I have witnessed people coming forward to highlight the failings of the judicial service who still continue to deny that there is a problem. Yet in a supposedly democratic society the voice of the majority is being ignored by those of whom are in power not by selection but by privilege. How on earth can one value have a higher value that a principle of protection from an injustice. And here lies the fact that this is the case.

Burden

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

Injustice can be seen as the poor man’s burden. As previously stated in my blog entitled Legal (F)aid ,access to resources to fight injustice is somewhat limited. From that angle we can see that those at the bottom of the social ladder are left to fend for themselves.  So the ultimate realization of Social Darwinism is a real modern day problem. The weak will be left behind with the burden of injustice.

Profit and loss

I would like to think that human nature tries to avoid a world that is unjust, but alas, this is not so. With a justice system comes a profit and loss ideal. For example, like so many other false accusers they intend to gain from another person’s loss, be it either power over that person (as in the case of my ex), financial gain or out of just trying to save face following their own trial of lies. It is only social structures and organisations that choose justice for us. Hence, only an agent such as the legal system can be held accountable as it either supports the false accuser or not. This fact does indeed rest with (in the UK) the Crown Prosecution Service. To date, will all of the people I know who have found injustice not one of them have received an apology for their wrong doing (coming back to the point of doing good means nothing). It only happens when their errors have been made public and the CPS has nowhere to hide.

Ethical poison

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

It seems that the ethical injustice must derive from some ethical poison in the judgement of the hearer. From different points in history one might draw on many depressing examples of prejudices obviously relevant to the context of credibility judgement, such as the idea that women are irrational, blacks are intellectually inferior to whites, the working classes are the moral inferiors of the upper classes, and men are violent within relationships.  With this level of brainwashing it is little wonder that injustice is allowed to continue unabated. The suggestion I am heading for is that the ethical poison in question is that of prejudice.

Literature

But in order to furnish the readers imagination, let us turn to an example from literature that provides us with a historically truthful fiction.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

The example is from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The year is 1935, and the scene is set in a courtroom in Maycomb County, Alabama. The defendant is a young black man named Tom Robinson. He is charged with raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, whose family’s rundown house he passes every day on his way to work, situated as it is on the outskirts of town in the borderlands that divide where whites and black live.

From the outset it is obvious that Tom Robinson is entirely innocent. His defence lawyer, Atticus Finch, has proven beyond doubt that Robinson could not have beaten the Ewell girl so as to cause the sort of cuts and bruises she sustained that day, since whoever gave her the beating led with his left fist, whereas Tom Robinson’s left arm is disabled, having been injured in a machinery accident when he was a boy. The trial proceedings enact a straightforward struggle between the power of evidence and the power of racial prejudice, with the all-white jury’s judgement ultimately succumbing to the latter.

Presumption is a pre-requisite

But the psychology is subtle, and there is a great complexity of social meanings at work in determining the jury’s perception of Tom Robinson as a speaker. In a showdown between the word of a black man and that of a poor white girl, the courtroom air is thick with the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s of racial politics. And yet, like so many other injustices the word of a small blue eyed female (my ex) carries more weight than the word of an innocent man. The presumption is made and the idea of guilt needs to be disproved.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

This example of injustice carries on through the discursive moments of the book. When Mayella grabbed Tom Robinson he was at a loss already. If he pushed her away, then he would have been found to have assaulted her; yet if he is passive, he will equally be found to have assaulted her. So, he does the most neutral thing he can, which is to run, though knowing all the while that this action too will be taken as a sign of guilt.  The interrogation of Tom is suffused with the idea that his running away implies culpability:

‘…why did you run so fast?’

‘I says I was scared, suh.’

 ‘If you had a clear conscience, why were you scared?’

Domestic stereotype ideals

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

Even with all of the evidence to support Tom Robinson’s innocents he is still found guilty. It is perhaps worth remarking that even the most hateful prejudicial ideologies may be sustained not only by explicitly hateful thought and talk but also by more domestic stereotypical ideas that are almost cosy in comparison. For these types of people an alternative truth to their own ideas is largely unthinkable. And so, the ignorance is allowed to continue.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Stereotypes feed into injustice

By selecting an individual to a specific group (for example, if all men are violent abusers then an individual man is an abuser too) this becomes a form of ‘identity’ prejudice.  So, the influence of identity prejudice in a hearer’s credibility judgement is an operation of identity power. Thus, in such a case the influence of identity prejudice is a matter of one party or parties effectively controlling what another party does, says or thinks. So, a view of guilt depends upon collective conceptions of the social identities in play.

In our Mockingbird example, racial identity power is exercised in this way by members of the (white) jury as they make their deflated credibility judgements of Tom Robinson, with the result that he is unable to convey to them the knowledge he has of what happened at the Ewells’ place. This is the essential exercise of identity power in the courtroom that seals Tom’s fate.

Selection is ingrained

From these examples and thoughts it shows that your view of your position in a society that implies it protects the innocent is an irrelevant lie. For many our lives have been selected and chosen before we have even left the womb. Yet regardless of how we try to fight these prejudices they have become so ingrained within the social psyche that justice or injustice becomes irrelevant. It is your gender, sexuality, colour, religion and so on that predetermines the outcomes.

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

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

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

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

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

By their own hands

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

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

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

Biggest cause of death for 15-35 year olds

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

Not just a western problem

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

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

Early records

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

Doubled

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

Men and women

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

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

Elderly

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

Global burden

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

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

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

Tools of the trade

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

Stigma

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

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

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

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.

 

Daughters

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

Sugar and spice?

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

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

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

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

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

Problem…? Sorted

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

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

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

Physical and psychological

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

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

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

Schooling

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

Generation

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

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

Gang culture

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

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

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

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

So what has change?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A problem? Really?

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

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

Girls to women.

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

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

Out on the town.

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

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

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

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

Tender enough to be a father

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

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

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

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

Men are idiots, but not all idiots are men.

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

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

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

Teachings

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

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

Our daughters are precious… and so are our sons

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

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