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.

Blood sports

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

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

Lust for blood

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

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

Possible equal outcomes

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

Opium for the masses

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

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

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

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

Hero worship

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

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

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

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

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

Profits over people

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

Win/win everytime

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

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

Because I said so…

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

Lets (never) see that again from another angle

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

 

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

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

 

Guest Blog – The Recovery Village

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

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

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

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

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

 Thank you Amy and Carlos…. 

The Recovery Village 

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

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

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

 Connection Between Domestic Violence and Substance Misuse 

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

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

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

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

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

 How The Recovery Village Helps 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Settling back

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

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

Just reflecting

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

Great works of fiction

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

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

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

Was you away??

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

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

Hello

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

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

It’s all so familiar

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

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

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

Different strokes for different folks

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

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

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

Better differences

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

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

Phased return

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

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

What I am saying

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

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

 

 

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.

 

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.

The philosophy of returning to work

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The philosophy of returning to work

I should have written this blog three days ago as I returned to work following my period of absence. My initial feelings of anxiety had diminished as I had wanted to return to work several months previously. However, I think my anxiety had turned into trepidation.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The philosophy of returning to work

I found it very strange that after entering through the doorway how everything was the same but felt equally different. There were new faces who looked at me with some form of inquisitiveness and there were faces I knew but carrying 10 months’ worth of stress and other work/home related problems. I was also surprised at the amount of people who were presently working their resignation. Indeed, it was a sad realisation of how much the job had changed for so many people.

Reflecting

I spent the previous day or so thinking and reflecting upon the events of the past few months and on how my outlook and views had changed. Initially I was both cross and disappointed with myself that I had not found another job. I had a realisation of how much my chosen career path had taken out of me to the expense of my health and family/social life. However, it is easy to reflect on that when the reality was that I was too ill to consider a new job.

Page or chapter?

I also considered how my worldly outlook has also changed. By returning to work I suppose a new page or chapter had begun and so reflecting on these new findings was right.

Conciliation of philosophy

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The philosophy of returning to work

It was during my time at university that I was introduced to philosophy. Admittedly it was political philosophy but I had caught the ‘interest’ bug and carried on reading all sorts of philosophical genre. As a result (and I am not selling it here) I came to realise that no matter what our thoughts or feelings are, someone somewhere has also thought the same things. I have found it to be both comforting and, if you like, an endorsement of my views when I have come across another thinker with the same opinions. I suppose it can be considered as a form of conciliation.

Feeling like a fraud

As I grew older I discovered that hitting rock bottom had different levels. To put this simply some bad days were better than others or lasted longer than previous feelings of hopelessness. Because of its irregularity I could not see the point or purpose of seeing anyone about it. Furthermore, the idea of an appointment system often let me down because by the time I had managed to make an appointment I had started to feel better. It made me feel like a bit of a fraud. In effect my health had literally gone awry.

CBT wasn’t for me

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The philosophy of returning to work

Time and again CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) had been suggested as a form of treatment. It came highly recommended and so I gave it a go but for me it didn’t work. However, whilst searching the internet I discovered that the psychologist who had invented it, Albert Ellis, had got the idea directly from ancient philosophy (Greek to be exact). Since reading about Ellis’s ideas I found that it matched up with Epictetus (AD 55 – 135) view of human weakness. Epictetus suggested that…

“Men are disturbed not by events but by their opinion about events.”

Personal values

Perhaps my views of the world like Epictetus, had considered that our emotions always involve beliefs or interpretations of the world we live in. Perhaps, therefore, our interpretations may often be inaccurate, irrational or just simply wrong. And as a result, will make us emotionally ill or devoid of the things around us. Whilst I write this perhaps I can consider that I had a value system that put a huge emphasis on working and behaving to the best of my abilities. Perhaps I can now consider that this flawed belief system has put too much pressure on my simple and narrow shoulders. It is ok to be human and say; ‘I’m just not managing and want a second consideration’.  I can now say that this is what I would happily except from others, so why not myself?

Habits

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The philosophy of returning to work

I am not finding or looking for a reason or excuse but perhaps our beliefs are ingrained from an early age and so become habitual. Would it be fair to consider that our, actions become so regular and habitual that they become comfortable or unseen in our day to day activities? Perhaps this is why people are generally uncomfortable about changing their life patterns or regularity. Taking a leap if you like. For example, people may not be able to cope after the pattern of a long-term relationship comes to an end. I know some of you may be screaming at me right now saying that this is what CBT encourages us to consider. But for me I was uncomfortable talking about this in front of people sitting in a circle. My main concern at that time was to just get out of there with my integrity intact.  This is why I renewed my love for philosophy. Or to be precise my re-reading of philosophy.

It has often been suggested that our capacity to choose our paths in life is constrained by a great many things (genes, childhood, circumstances, wealth [or lack of], education and so on). But to a degree we can widen the paths we have selected by considering views different to our own. This ability can make us improve ‘our lot’ and open up our ideas and views with the resources we have to hand.

Epictetus put this simply by dividing life into two categories: the things we control and the things we don’t. We don’t control the weather, other people, our reputation, our even own bodies and health. But he considered that although we can influence these things, we don’t have complete control over them. The only thing we do have control over is our own thoughts and beliefs.

Control

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The philosophy of returning to work

I would like to suggest that emotional problems arise when we try to gain control over something external – something out of our control. When I had hit rock bottom and felt destitute, I rested all my self-esteem on others’ views of me. This, of course, made me feel helpless, depressed and finally anxious.

My enlightened moment came one day whilst walking in the park. The end to this self-enslavement was to stop trying to manage other people opinion and views of me. Instead I decided to focus on controlling my own thoughts and beliefs. I knew my good and bad points and I also knew the facts behind a false allegation. I won’t say it was an instant relief, but it had given me the strength to return to work with a ‘do or be damned’ attitude.

Alas, I must confess that this makes it sound so simple. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. The problem is that humans are incredibly forgetful creatures. We might read a book or hear a revelation on the radio or TV and have a light-bulb moment, but then a few days later we forget and go back to our old way of seeing and doing things. We are creatures of habits. In fact Aristotle (384–322 BC) wrote:

“It makes no small difference, then, whether we form habits of one kind or of another from our very youth; it makes a very great difference.”

Ethics

Every day, we have a choice to either reinforce a habit, or challenge it. The Greeks understood the importance of habits to the good life. Their word “ethics” comes from “ethos”, meaning habit and they developed some great techniques for habit-formation.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The philosophy of returning to work

One technique the ancient Greeks liked to use is the idea of ‘maxim’. A maxim is the compression of an idea into a short, memorisable phrase, like “everything in moderation” or “look before you leap” and so on. Ancient Greek students would repeat these maxims over and over, even sing them, until they became neural habits, thus became expectations.

So how has this helped me?

Well the ancient philosophers enjoyed and encouraged other thinkers to keep a journal. As you know (if you are a regular reader) my blog became my journal. It outlined and tracked my progress. When I read many of my blogs back to myself I can witness the growing of my strength and understanding. This of course, has also been endorsed by other bloggers and readers who have also encountered their own difficulties and problems. It is not a measuring tool to compare our woes, but it has become a support structure for others to say ‘yes I get that, I’ve been there too’. Epictetus would have embraced this as he once stated; “count the days when you were not angry”.  To be able to do this you need to keep a journal of some kind. A blog is now the ideal medium of which to do this in modern times.

Theory/practice

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The philosophy of returning to work

As I write this I consider that our new-found philosophy needs to be more than theory, it needs to be practice too. Time and again I have found myself to be confident in the classroom, but a miserable shipwreck when it comes to practice. To put this simply you cannot get over your anxiety by holding a new view in the safety of your living room. I learnt that you need to go out and practise. For me it was important to take small steps first, like walking in the park, then the shops and finally back in to work. Can I therefore, suggest that every situation we’re in can be an opportunity to practise our new philosophy. Seneca (4 BC – AD 65), put it better when he said; “The Stoic sees all adversity as training.”

I have now realised that philosophy through CBT can heal suffering and perhaps save many lives. But it’s not the last word and it is not a wonder pill to be taken once a day. To use another maxim “no man is an island” I would suggest or even dictate to male suffers of anxiety and depression to get those tablets and embrace counselling. The offensive term of ‘manning up’ is not a philosophy. It is a dangerous, small minded point of view that has killed more than it has saved.  Being a good person is the acceptance that sharing your pain or recovery process for the benefit of others is perhaps the best gift you can give.

Stages of truth

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

 

Formula

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

It is amazing how often complicated things can become simple once you get an understanding of its concepts, flows or for that matter, formulas.

I remember a time whilst at school I was very distressed by the fact I could not get to grips with the concept of fractions. This fact was not helped by the poor and incapability of the specific teacher who appeared to take great pleasure in highlighting my inadequacies to the rest of the class. I can recall, with a great level of distress how he would make me stand up to answer fraction questions he would fire at me.

Well, I took the time one evening to sit with my adopted father who went to great lengths to explain, demonstrate and show the practice and understanding of fractions. The following day I attended the usual maths lesson, this time fully armed and equipped with my fraction formula.  Much to the teacher’s frustration and I suppose humiliation I was able to answer his quick fire fraction questions with ease.

At the end of the said lesson the teacher asked me how I had ‘cracked it’ so quickly. I replied with the answer ‘I spent some time with someone who did what you were paid to do’. From that day forward, it was evident that both he and I never really liked each other much. I heard many years later that the said teacher eventually died from alcoholism. Let me make this very clear, it was not my fraction revelations that drove him to drink as I am sure (whilst I reflect on it now) that he had some form of drink problem way back then. The point I am making here is that his failure needed to be projected to some other place than his own. Perhaps alcoholism was his way of admitting to himself that he was poor at his job.

So how does the truth create hostility?

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

Throughout human history there has been a constant dialogue of struggles in one way or another. Even in our own life times we can identify some disruption or other based on the failing of minds meeting.

But, I wish to reveal a three-stage step to the discovery of truth. I recently came across a quote that seemed to offer a formula to understanding in the face of hostility

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)

For me this revelation seems to fit with every stage that I have challenged recently.

Three stages

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

When I discussed the fact that men are also victims of female violence or men suffer with depression, I met three stages.

Firstly, there is an element of ridicule – “man up” or “don’t be so stupid”

Secondly, I have experienced hostile opposition – “how dare a male victim attempt to violate female territory of victim status”

And finally, acceptance as a reality – Letters of apology from specific organisations.

Historical example – Galileo

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

If I give the historical example of Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) you will see and understand that the modern approach to the truth has had a historical precedence.

In the Christian world prior to Galileo’s conflict with the Church, the majority of educated people subscribed to the Aristotelian view that the earth was the centre of the universe and that all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth.

Galileo decided to challenge these perceived views and argued that the earth was not the centre pin of it all (heliocentrism). Opposition to Galileo’s writings combined religious and scientific objections.

Galileo – Ridicule

Religious opposition to heliocentrism arose from Biblical references such as Psalm 93:1, 96:10, and  Chronicles 16:30 which included texts stating that “the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” In the same manner, Psalm 104:5 says, “the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” Further, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place.”

Biblical challenge

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

Galileo defended heliocentrism based on his own tried and tested observations of 1609. In December 1613, the Grand Duchess Christina of Florence argued against Galileo’s theories with biblical objections to the motion of the earth. Prompted by this incident, Galileo wrote a letter in which he argued that heliocentrism was actually not contrary to biblical texts, and that the bible was an authority on faith and morals, not on science.

Inquisition

By 1615, Galileo’s writings on heliocentrism had been submitted to the Roman Inquisition by Father Niccolo Lorini, who claimed that Galileo and his followers were attempting to reinterpret the Bible, which was seen as a violation of the Council of Trent and looked dangerously like Protestantism. Galileo went to Rome to defend himself and his ideas. In February 1616, an Inquisitorial commission declared heliocentrism to be;

“…foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture.”

The Inquisition found that the idea of the Earth’s movement… “receives the same judgement in philosophy and… in regard to theological truth it is at least erroneous in faith”.

Galileo – opposition

Pope Paul V instructed Cardinal Bellarmine to deliver this finding to Galileo, and to order him to abandon the opinion that heliocentrism was physically true. On 26 February, Galileo was called to Bellarmine’s residence and ordered:

… to abandon completely… the opinion that the sun stands still at the centre of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.

Silenced to no longer question

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

In essence, Galileo was publicly silenced by the authorities for speaking his view of the truth at the risk of imprisonment or death for holding heretical opinions.

Although Galileo attempted to abide by his restraints he could not resist speaking directly to his challengers in the form of writing. As a result, the Pope called Galileo to Rome to defend his writings. He finally arrived in February 1633 and was brought before inquisitor Vincenzo Maculani to be charged. Throughout his trial, Galileo steadfastly maintained that since 1616 he had faithfully kept his promise not to hold any of the condemned opinions, and initially he denied even defending them. However, he was eventually persuaded to admit that, contrary to his true intention, a reader of his Dialogue could well have obtained the impression that it was intended to be a defence of heliocentrism.

Galileo – suppression

The sentence of the Inquisition was essentially in three parts:

Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to “abjure, curse and detest” those opinions.

He was sentenced to formal imprisonment at the pleasure of the Inquisition. On the following day, this was commuted to house arrest, which he remained under for the rest of his life.

His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.

Galileo – Self Evident

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

I suppose with our modern outlook of the world backed up with scientific facts we now readily accept the fact that the earth moves around the sun. However, we forget that to have established this truth an individual had to endure so much for what we now take for granted.

How does this fit with modern problems?

When I decided to write about my own experiences it came with some form of ‘shock and awe’. As I have stated so many times, there was and is very little published works of which I could compare my experiences with. This was as a direct result of social expectations. To clarify this, it was expected that to be a male you had to endure certain inequalities. Speaking out against this would ensure ridicule and hostility.

Seeking help

For example, when I asked for refuge against my violent ex I was faced with a brick wall of confusion. There was/is no emergency homes available for men because the perceived fact that male victims do not exist. By requesting help I was considered as troublesome because it flew in the face of established facts – of which are built on presumptions and not evidence.

I now know that I was not the only one to have experienced such negativity. The problem rested with the fact that victims were and are too scared to speak up. This created a feeling of isolation and vulnerability in a world that had collapsed within a moment.

Testing times

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

It is only now by stating that I am recovering and survived that can I see the true cost of seeking the truth. It is expensive in more ways that financial. It tests your resolve, sanity and faith in everything you have understood to be right. By seeking the truth I  was also searching  for self respect and self worth. This is important because you need to know that you have a stake in a society of which you contribute to.

For me writing was my avenue of seeking these things. I have had to ask and look for answers and trust the judgements of those of whom matter. It is easy to say that I know there are so many other people out there seeking their own truths and understandings but it is a journey of seeking, fighting and accepting. Or to put it another way, ridicule, hostility and finally acceptance.

Every fight is worth fighting for if you know the truth is being suppressed and worked against you.

Depressive shame

Talking about depression was also not perceived as being a manly occupation. Time and again I have heard other men talk about the concept of ‘manning up’. This in my view is a personal attack on the victims. It is wrong to refuse or accept the concept or fact that men also suffer with this debilitating illness. Just because men are not (and perhaps still not) encouraged to talk about it does not lesson the pain.

As I have stated in my previous blogs that if I tried to speak out or open up it was often suppressed or directly challenged. What made it worse was that it was not challenged by other men but by (certain) women who had claimed to be victims themselves. And here lie the similarities that Galilieo faced. He talked about a fact based on knowledge (and perhaps experience) and was suppressed by those of whom would lose their monopoly of power. I wanted and needed refuge in my hour of need. But because I did not fit into social expectations of victim status I was dismissed. In fact I am still awaiting domestic abuse support from the police six months after being promised.

The process of time

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

When being challenged with suppressive actions it can become exhaustive. Each minute can feel like a day but you only start to heal when know you are being listened to. Therefore, minutes no longer feel like days but finally feel like the sixty seconds it should do. This is not a quick process, like the formula states, but a time consuming, up hill struggle that feels as if you are stepping in uncharted territory. The fact is you are not, it is just that you have not met the other searchers yet.

#metoo – really?

I am all in favour of victims speaking out. In fact I encourage it. However, the recent explosion of victim status via the public arena of #metoo has completely missed the point.

A suppressed section of society is not allowed the privilege of being heard. Yet, so many victims are jumping on the bandwagon of victim status. I actually question how many of these ‘shouters’ as I should call them were actually victims in the first place. Yet, suppression has not allowed male victims to shout out about their victimisation for fear of ridicule or reprisals.

Self-evident

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

I hope that society will eventually mature enough to recognise that to be a victim does not require you to meet certain characteristics.

A self-evident society will and should accept that a victim is a person who has been subjected to an action or event contrary to their expected human right. Or a person that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment. There should be no pre-requisite of gender, sexuality, race or colour before you can claim victim status.

Like my maths teacher, he lost the upper hand when I worked out the formula. And here I have argued that the formula of truth does indeed come in the three stages as previously stated (ridicule, opposition and finally it is accepted as being self-evident).

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

This should be the Galileo status of it all making sense in the end. A victim (of anything) does not consider their status or position when they are taking a beating or being robbed etc. The future should now rid its self of the shameful act of ridicule and suppression. It is now time to embrace the fact that we are all responsible for the protection of each other.

 

The Art of Staying Quiet

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art of Staying Quiet

I used to enjoy art at school. I must confess that I could never have claimed to be good at it but then by modern standards I could have been considered the producer of master pieces.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art of Staying Quiet

Even today as a middle-aged man I like to do the odd doodle, visit art galleries, buy nice prints when I can and so on. I even have Lempika’s iconic picture ‘The Woman in The Green Dress’ tattooed on my upper left arm. I’ve probably had it for about 8 years now and I still look at it with a sense of pride.

But what is art?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art of Staying Quiet

Well this is actually difficult to pin down. There are loose explanations around that still don’t make it clear.

I have often visited galleries, art shops or exhibitions and asked myself ‘how on earth did this ever get past the critic?’  Furthermore, how can a piece I consider to be poor demand such a high price when my GCSE masterpiece only made me a ‘B’?

When I do see something I consider to be ‘poor’ I develop a nagging concern that I am not educated or qualified enough to evaluate the work and so be unable to justify its worth.  Of course, we all know that the interpretation of art is subjective, and this is why I cannot identify what is good art.

Denying questions is ignorance

The idea that the artist defines the artwork reduces the viewer’s involvement with the artwork and eroded the authority of the viewer’s perspective. In this belief system, the artist has the ultimate trump card: “you don’t understand.” Therefore, the conversation is over, the viewer hushed and finally shamed into silence.

In my view life is a subjective experience. And yet, we still trust in the ability of people to evaluate and share their perceptions in journalism, history, law, science and so on. It is the responsibility of the artist, the scientist, the lawyer (including the police and CPS) and the historian to convey an individual’s window on the world. Art is not a one-sided conversation, and it doesn’t help to continue acting like it is.

The art of words

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art of Staying Quiet

If a piece of art genuinely moves only one person, it is still good art. The same can be applied to the art of conversation or the ability to write. If it moves many people, it might be great art. If it moves you only because you think that it ought to, then it is time to start thinking about why. This does involve an element of  expectation of self-awareness and belief in the ability to people to be confident in their own perspectives. At the very least, it requires thoughtfulness.

So how does this fit here?

I have loosely touch upon this when I suggested that the art of conversation is still an art.

When I studied A level Law many years ago a key statement my tutor made was that ‘the law and its principles is open to interpretation’. The art is being able to understand, decipher and communicate back.

It is not an art to ridcule

Unlike the ‘expert’ artist, I feel it is immoral, wrong and dangerous to ridicule someone’s interpretation of what has been said or implied.

Like so many victims I have met the process of recovery is not just living day to day but to be listened to. The art for the listener is to pay attention, interpret and attempt to understand. It is not their role to criticise, ridicule or use it for harm.

Wittgenstein and the limitation of words

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art of Staying Quiet

For many people (or survivors) their words are restricted by the Wittgenstein principle.

Wittgenstein’s work (Tractatus) considered the relationship between language and the world. He argued that the logical structure of language provides the limits of meaning. The limits of language, for Wittgenstein, are the limits of thought or the sharing of ideas or principle (aka philosophy).

There just doesn’t seem to be any logic

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art of Staying Quiet

When I reflect on capabilities, why are footballers (or soccer to my American readers) paid massive sums of money to just kick a piece of leather around. Yet my Ambulance colleagues, who save lives on a regular basis, have to threaten strike action just to keep up with the cost of living? How is the value of their skills measured correctly? Is saving a life less of an art than kicking a ball?

I recently endured a series of programmes that awarded celebrities for being, well – celebrities. I witnessed how the artists were categorized and judged. In my view the winners were imposed upon the audience (who are very often culture obsessed) with deciding who is worthy and who is not. We watch people walk down the red carpet and listen to commentators judge their appearances and beauty.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art of Staying Quiet

I once fell into a similar trap many years ago. I was watching some award programme for authors and their books. The programme raved and shouted loudly about how brilliant a certain book was. Well with that kind of praise I rushed out the following day and bought a copy. Well, it was without doubt, one of the worst books I have ever read. To be honest with you I never finished it. As a result I have learnt to ignore these so called experts and develop my own thoughts and considerations about what I perceive to be right or good.

How is being quiet an art?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art of Staying Quiet

The art of being quiet is to allow the talker to create their own problems. These past few months I have come into contact with so many so called ‘professionals’.

During these many conversations I witnessed their art is one of self-indulgence and above all arrogance. Many of these talkers have spouted false statistics believing them to be gospel or as flawless facts. Yet, when challenged they see it as a personal attack and treat it as such. If a true believer has faith in what they have to say then they shouldn’t have to revert to personal attacks.

Just sit back and watch it all happen

The art of being quiet is to sit back and watch them dig themselves deeper. To give this an example, I have recently dealt with the CPS about how they consider every case on a case by case basis. I asked them to supply policies and precedence to show this. To begin with i did not question or criticise their statements. I didn’t need to because by their own words I found so many contradictions that it has now become impossible to ignore.

If you recall I used this same principle with social services which resulted in the sacking of one of their own.

I have discovered that if you remain quiet and let the fakers continue to talk they eventually get caught up in their own contradictions. Their ultimate shame is shown when they cannot criticise you anymore due to the recognition that they have been caught out.

He or she who shouts the loudest has the most to hide

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art of Staying Quiet

Maybe the reason the abusers continue to talk when they know they are being caught out sheds light on a deeper human truth. Perhaps they overstate their arguments and lie to fill a void of unworthiness. Maybe we need to define abusers as the “other,” the lesser, the unworthy because we know following our own experiences that there is a definitive right and wrong, good and bad, and very often the weaker listeners fall on the latter side to believe the one shouting the loudest.

By definition, and my personal belief, the art of being quiet is just the ability to let the wrong doers express their interpretations wrongly. Often it warrants a greatness and appreciation for the beauty of staying quiet and buying your time rather than lowering yourself to their level resulting in a public argument. This allows you to own the power of their own downfall, either for the fake accusers, their departments or the subsequent offenders and abusers.

Remaining quiet does not feed their flames – They do it themselves

The art of staying quiet is the ability to step back and buy yourself some time whilst the accusers and their supporters dig their own graves. The real skill is to buy your time and choosing your moment correctly rather than feed their ego by counter arguing. Of course, it feels right to defend yourself the instant an accusation has been made. But if the abuser continues upon their own path to destruction it rewards you by witnessing the creation of their own endings.