Should we scrutinise ALL reports of family violence?

Written by Jasmin

There has been significant backlash at the not so honourable Pru Goward for the abominable decision to hand the funding for male victims to the Men’s Referral Service (MRS). As previously stated by Bettina Arndt, MRS is the only organisation working in the domestic violence sector which screens its victims to first see if they are perpetrators or somehow to blame for what happened to them.

During 2015 Rosie Batty made repeated claims that “we must believe victim stories – without question” but of course, Rosie was only referring to women.

Gender bigotry has never been more blatant to the average thinking Australian. You can not in good conscience see this, and ignore the bias.

The decision to scrutinise the stories of men seeking help for domestic violence has been defended by the Department of Justice who received at least 174 letters of complaint through one men’s advocacy lobby group alone.  The DoJ reply email stated that this system was tried and tested in the UK successfully.

However, what they failed to note in their veiled defence was the high correlation between suicide and domestic violence found in the UK, when victims had been treated as perpetrators and further shamed instead of supported.

I would call this an abject failure, not a success. I guess it depends on what your objectives are!

Pru Goward holds the office of Minister for prevention of Domestic Violence & Sexual Abuse. It’s no wonder she is so unpopular because it is being repeatedly demonstrated that domestic violence prevention initiatives are failing despite billions of dollars in funding. And while many of us disagree on why that is, we can all agree that nothing has changed and one can quite justifiably speculate that it’s probably because they have the wrong agenda.

According to Bureau of Crime Statistics, over the past 10 years, domestic violence has remained stable. It has neither decreased nor increased and there is no evidence of any ‘epidemic’, even in the face of an excruciating multi million dollar media campaign to ‘raise awareness’ and encourage men and boys to not be sexist.

Rosie Batty had nothing short of a zealous run for an entire year on the government purse to make sure that every woman spoke up about family violence. Still no decrease (or even increase) in actual domestic violence.

What we did see however, was a rise in the reporting to police in which many news sources claimed police were called to a domestic violence incident every 2 minutes.

Interestingly, NSW BOSCAR reports around 25,000 final orders for domestic violence cases to which police responded in 2015. 20,288 of those were against men, 4,167 against women.

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Oddly,  media claims* 58,000 victims in NSW.  *The ABC is not known as being a credible source for data and you will see that when you drill down to their sources there were in fact 29,000 domestic violence assaults recorded by BOSCAR NSW (Page 18).

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So there is a disparity between what women say, and what becomes substantiated. Somehow, I think we should accept the substantiated cases. I know, it’s unpopular.

What is an upward trend of 30-35% in crime is the increase use of drugs and we know at least that drug use does not discriminate based on gender.

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I wonder why they aren’t looking at the epidemic of drug use, or indeed any of the deeper underlaying issues which contribute to domestic violence.

Australia seems to be very accepting of having this so wrong.   Sure, they complain about it, but no one is asking why we are spending billions of dollars, with no positive effect nor societal change.

Of course, advocates aiming to secure funding are outraged that domestic violence is *still* an issue but instead of questioning the model they are using, they are blaming government, the police and the courts for not fixing it.

So this brings me to my question.

Should we scrutinise the stories of women in the same way we scrutinise the stories of men? 

The VAW lobby seem quite sure that this is the answer for men, so why would that not be applied across the board for all people?

It would certainly present a complex social problem if Australia adopted this approach.

  • The female suicide rate would most likely escalate, as it did in the UK with men.
  • We would start to see more identification of female perpetrators and no services trained in supporting them through behaviour change.
  • We would see an increase in referral to drug and alcohol services.
  • And women’s prisons are already full and over burdened.

Naturally, it would almost certainly destroy the long held campaigns of VAW advocates that the only problem we have is men’s violence against women. This would also result in a lot of women being out of work due to funding cuts. Perhaps they could be reprogrammed into delivering perpetrator programs.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? So what is the answer?

Vast peer reviewed studies show us that domestic violence is most often reciprocal. We know that it is rooted in generations of family violence and not gender. And we know that scrutinising stories of genuine victims will do them enormous harm.

So do we continue to throw men under a bus and allow domestic violence levels to remain stable? Do we treat women in the same appalling manner we treat men, which although would reduce the number of female victims would elevate the number of supported male victims.

Or do we address the elephant in the room and re-think the entire gendered paradigm by establishing and entirely new model of thinking around domestic violence?

Because maybe, just maybe, you’re doing it all wrong Pru!

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About the author

Jasmin

Jasmin is a specialist men’s coach who supports men in all aspects of relationships, but specifically those who are going through high conflict separation and divorce. She is also a dedicate advocate for services for men and their children who have been victims of domestic violence and abuse.

Jasmin helps men who are struggling and feeling lost and alone, to move to a place of acceptance and confidence so they can move ahead and live a life consistent with their values and beliefs. She believes strongly in the power of overcoming past hurts through empathy and compassion.

She is a mother of two, author, presenter and coach. She lives in the idyllic coastal town of Merimbula, NSW, Australia.

*All written material on Relating To Men is subject to copyright to the author.