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 Power of a Poster

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

A painfully Slow Process

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

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

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

In My Lifetime – Doubt it

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

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

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

Is that it, just a poster?

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

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

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

Male Victims Do Not Exist

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

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

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

Domestic Abuse Is A Health Issue For Men Too

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

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

A World Wide Disgrace

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

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

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

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

Gender issues

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

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

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

What do (all) survivors of domestic abuse want?

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

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

If I talk who will listen?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?

 

Nearly 25 years ago I won sole custody of my sons. Just saying it like that makes it sound so simple. But it wasn’t. I had to sacrifice a good career, battle with social services who had a single view of parenting and I had to face up to the realities of being a single father in a hostile environment to men.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
When I recall those times I remember feeling frustrated and isolated. I knew of no other single male fathers or other men who had or were battling social services to meet a logical conclusion.

The big world got smaller

The big difference then was that the mode of communication was very limited. The internet was still in its infancy and organisations like ‘Families Need Fathers’ could only be contacted either by post or by visiting their weekly meetings. I suppose I could argue that the world was a very narrow place when looking or seeking for help, guidance and support.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
Now with technological advances similar people can be contacted and groups be found within a moment. Furthermore, all of this can be done from the phone that sits in my pocket. All of these advances are something beyond my dreams back then – but here it is and it is wonderful.

The power of the internet

I must state that I have taken full advantage of the technology to hand and found it to be useful. I have links on various social networks. I have contacted groups from all over the world and spoke directly to individuals not only in my own country but from all around the globe.
However, I have found a common denominator. I have found that the art of being ignored by the authorities is not a single issue. It is prevalent all around the world.
Whilst I have researched, considered and delivered my findings and arguments I have found that the people who need to hear us are actively ignoring our calls.

The need to write

My writings have generally been about depression and domestic abuse from a male perspective. I set out to do this over twelve months ago because when I was looking for something there was nothing available. Yes, there is literature available about domestic abuse but only if you are female. The literature on depression is limited but tended to be clinical and lack the authentic experiences of a sufferer. As a result, I found it easy to combine, but I have found it frustrating not to be heard.

Over exposure?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?

It took a great step to open up. By writing about my views and experiences I was (and still am) leaving myself open to scrutiny. When I set out to write I decided that as there was very little out there, I would be a no hold barred writer and express and talk about anything and everything. After all, in my view and hour of need it was what I wanted to hear from someone else.
My point throughout has been that (mainly) men should open up and accept that enough is enough. It is not good enough to expect there to be no literature in doctors surgeries highlighting male victims of domestic abuse. It is also unacceptable for a male victim to be expected to sleep rough as there are no refuges available for men. It is also a life saving decision to express a need for help when the dark clouds of depression take hold.
Yet, and here is the rub. I had made contact with a number of organisations who had claimed to offer an ear of understanding.

In the kingdom of the blind…

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
I approached the police with my evidence of assaults and abuse. I also supplied them with facts from the Crown Prosecution Service about the lack of information received. The Crown Prosecution Service were informed and challenged about their views on male victims and the issues related to target setting prosecutions against men (and not women). I had also contacted a range of social services expressing my concerns related to male victims of abuse and their continued lack of resources for men.

Yet each and every one of them had either refused to comment or delivered a range of unexplainable and illogical excuses. Time and again I had received letters implying that I should either just go away or put these things down to experiences and move on. One example, was found in a letter I received from the police. It said;

…[the] meeting presented a further opportunity to articulate your concerns and observations and for me to report back on my considerations of the matter. I know you do not share my opinion but I retain the view…. Your allegations was dealt with represented a proportionate police response.

Let me put this into perspective then. I supplied the police with evidence such as diary accounts, text messages, emails, photographs and independent statements from independent witnesses (x3), Ambulance Service Managers and family members. And yet they decided to not take my case further. As a point of fact, they did not even pass my documents to the Crown prosecution Service for their consideration. Is this not a case, therefore, of cherry picking? And yet the full force of the law was placed onto me because my ex made a claim and it was backed up by her (none independent) daughter. Or to put it another way, there was no diary accounts, text messages, emails, photographs and independent statements from independent witnesses.

…the one eyed is king.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
I have taken the time and the opportunity to raise this concern with the police time and again and yet they stick by their guns still refusing to accept the fact that they have not applied the law equally. Or for that matter justly. I have also taken the time to express my concerns with the police for the lack of support for male victims of domestic abuse. To date the only response I have had about this matter is a paragraph in a letter stating;

…the availability of literature for male victims of domestic abuse could be enhanced.

I note that it says could and not should. In essence it makes no promise or effort to address the imbalance. Furthermore, when I stated in a previous letter that I have still not heard from a Domestic Abuse Support Officer (now 14 months after informing the police) I have still not had any response whatsoever. To quote from Mark Brooks from Mankind Initiative UK following the death of Mark Von Dongen “[is] it down to lack of competence and because… [I am] a man?”

A no win situation

With the lack of clear support and understanding of male victims it therefore, makes it even harder for men to come forward. In essence, with the present status quo the fact of the matter is that male lives just do not matter.

I now sit back in my chair and think about how far I have come. I am now in a good place and I consider myself to be happy. Yet all of this has been done with the support of friends and my own un-defeatist attitude. However, I have learnt that it is impossible to reason with the unreasonable. When you have an agency that are so stuck in their ways and are encouraged to be so there is no impetus to change. After all, why should they when they are meeting targets and individuals can be pushed aside and forgotten? Why should there be change when society is so silent about private injustices or plights?

If we close our eyes (and ears) it won’t exist

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?

There is no requirements to support men when they have been painted (and remain so) as the perpetrator of all things evil and blue eyed, blonde haired claims are taken as the gospel when the facts show otherwise. Why should the police delve into an accusers past and find a pattern of abuse claims against other men?

The answer to all of this is simple. It is not politically correct to consider a male view. It is impossible for them to consider evidence as facts that fly in the face of a perceived consideration. Furthermore, a lone man trying to take a stand against an established authority is small fry and is easily pushed to the side with rhetoric and false appeasements.

Past its sell by date

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
Regardless of how the police and judiciary try to defend their lack of actions with regards to male victims of domestic abuse, the same old rhetoric about women being more likely to be victims of domestic abuse will keep getting rolled out. But why has no one stopped and considered that fact that this statistic is nearly 30 years old, and in my view, therefore, outdated. It would be inconceivable for a new study to be carried out as it would find that the police actions and lack of support does not fit with the real world of which they claim to police.

Well if you won’t listen, I will turn up the volume

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression If I talk who will listen?
I suppose I can consider that my journey is coming to an end. I am not waving a white flag and laying down my arms. Far from it. I suppose I am going to take a new and different stance on the matter of male victims of domestic abuse. I have focused on my own experiences with regards to the failure of the police. A new tactic is one whereby I can now go public. My knowledge and understanding of the system that chooses to ignore cannot overlook the fact that a sole voice can sound much louder when it has access to media and other men (and women) in similar situations that have felt ignored, forgotten and alas expendable.

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

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

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

Murder by any means

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

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

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

Legal view

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

Utter arrogance

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

Was it because he was a man?

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

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

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

Lets make the rules up as we go along

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

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

When has gender been a defence?

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

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

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

Punishments

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

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

Pick and choose

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

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

Pointless exercise

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

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

Out of date statistic

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

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

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

A circus… but who is the clown?

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

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

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

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

Health

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

Homelessness

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

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

It really is a disgrace

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

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

Blood sports

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

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

Lust for blood

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

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

Possible equal outcomes

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

Opium for the masses

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

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

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

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

Hero worship

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

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

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

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

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

Profits over people

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

Win/win everytime

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

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

Because I said so…

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

Lets (never) see that again from another angle

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

 

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

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

 

Guest Blog – The Recovery Village

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

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

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

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

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

 Thank you Amy and Carlos…. 

The Recovery Village 

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

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

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

 Connection Between Domestic Violence and Substance Misuse 

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

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

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

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

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

 How The Recovery Village Helps 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Human Progress and Isolation

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

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

To challenge a view

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

A slice of bread

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

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

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

Where did that come from?

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

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

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

One long season

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

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

Village/town/city structures

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

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

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

A new religion

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

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

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

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

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

Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forgotten

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

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

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

24 hour daytime

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

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

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

So where is this discussion leading to?

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

Animal studies

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

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

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

An unpleasant emotion

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

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

Social agony

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

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

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

Suicide risks

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

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

Loneliness and social isolation in the United Kingdom

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

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

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

Isolation and suicide rates

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

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

The WHO further reports that:

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

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

90%

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

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

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

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

Therefore…

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

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

 

 

 

Histrionic Personality Disorder

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

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

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

So what was the topic of the conversation?

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

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

Craving attention

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

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

Centre point

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

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

It’s all about me

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

Mental condition

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

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

Me, me, me

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

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

Experience

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

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

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

Such a nice person…not

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

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

Hey, give me a minute

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

Extreme

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

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

Rewards

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

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

PRAISE ME

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

P – provocative (or seductive) behaviour

R – relationships, considered more intimate than they are

A – attention, must be at centre of

I – influenced easily

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

E – emotional liability, shallowness

 

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

E – exaggerated emotions – theatrical

Negative and positive

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

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

Roots

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

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

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

So what do I know?

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

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

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

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.