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Meeting the needs of male victims of family violence & their children Greg Andresen.

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Presentation on theme: "Meeting the needs of male victims of family violence & their children Greg Andresen."— Presentation transcript:

1 Meeting the needs of male victims of family violence & their children Greg Andresen

2 About us Men's Health Australia is Australia's primary source of information about the psychological and social wellbeing of men and boys. It has been developed in partnership with the Men's Health Information & Resource Centre (MHIRC) at the University of Western Sydney and the Australasian Men's Health Forum (AMHF). The One in Three Campaign aims to raise public awareness of the existence and needs of male victims of family violence and abuse; to work with government and non-government services alike to provide assistance to male victims; and to reduce the incidence and impacts of family violence on Australian men, women and children. Mens Health Australia

3 This presentation will... Present the often unheard voices of male victims of family violence and their children Describe the specific experiences of male victims of family violence and their children Discuss recent overseas support initiatives for male victims of family violence and their children that could be adopted in Australia Review the scant support currently available in Australia for male victims of family violence and their children Outline the support required in order for the needs of male victims of family violence and their children to be met.

4 This presentation will not... Focus upon the issue of violence against women - other presentations at this conference have covered this topic This presentation will focus upon male victims of family violence and their children as an underserved population that receives scant attention Both genders need and deserve appropriate support, especially if we care about stopping children from being exposed to violence

5 Defining family violence Family violence and abuse includes intimate partner abuse (from current partners, previous partners, boyfriends and girlfriends) in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships But it also includes these often ignored victims: parents and step-parents abused by children and vice versa abuse between siblings abuse within other family relationships (grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc)

6 The voices of male victims of family violence & their children Source: Channel 5 News (UK) [Video plays here]

7 Forms of abuse Abuse of men takes the same forms as it does against women: a pattern of controlling behaviour that can include physical violence, intimidation and threats; sexual abuse; psychological abuse; verbal abuse; financial or economic abuse; social abuse; spiritual abuse. Men also experience legal-administrative abuse: the use of legitimate services in a way that abuses the rights of others, for example, taking out false restraining orders to prevent the victim having access to his children Victims often experience multiple forms of abuse.

8 Impacts of family violence upon male victims Fear and loss of feelings of safety Feelings of guilt and/or shame I could not even admit to my close and supportive friends how much her behaviour was hurting me. I felt ashamed about that - the fact that I had let it hurt me, and ashamed that I was vulnerable to her Mervyn In my relationship with Deborah, I didn't like to admit that I was scared - in fact it took me a long time to admit that I felt scared and was affected by her abuse Mervyn

9 Impacts of family violence upon male victims Feelings of helplessness Difficulties in trusting others Anxiety and flashbacks Unresolved anger Loneliness and isolation I was isolated entirely from my family and friends and yet was expected to be fully and overly involved with hers Dan I felt like I had nowhere else to go. I literally felt like I was trapped in there Anonymous I am shaking typing this. I am wondering why I was so trusting of her, so in love, so stupid to stay there for all that time Anonymous

10 Impacts of family violence upon male victims Mental health impacts such as feeling feeling mentally crushed, withdrawn and without dignity, or experiencing paranoid delusions Low self-esteem and/or self- hatred I felt that I had gone on living but that the person inside it was dead, had died… life is crushed... You actually lose your dignity in a way you stop being able to be proud of yourself Anonymous Ive put myself in my own prison because I dont want to have any interaction with society any more. I feel too vile, too dirty, because the mainstream of society says this kind of behaviour from a woman is OK Kevin

11 Impacts of family violence upon male victims Depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm and attempted suicide Impaired self-concept (in particular around ones sense of manhood) I lived in terror walking on eggshells around her for nigh on 20 years. I attempted suicide a number of times Dan It was devastating emotionally and very lonely. Usually men are put in a position where whatever happens, youre just supposed to deal with it, and Id been dealing with it for 10 years and it was getting pretty heavy to carry around Anonymous

12 Impacts of family violence upon male victims Physical injuries, illness and disability Use of alcohol or other drugs to cope with the abuse Sexual dysfunction and/or impotence Loss of work Poor dad. I had seen him walking naked in the back yard at night all upset and embarrassed; and I had seen him crawling under the bed to escape her vicious attacks, and I have seen him nursing his fresh wounds in the toilet Son, talking about father So I've ended up on a disability pension, a $400 car, a couple of boxes of books and sleeping on a friend's couch in a small one-bedroom flat. At 61 it's all over Robin

13 Impacts of family violence upon male victims Loss of home Loss of relationships with friends and family She was left in the house with all the furniture and equipment and I had to start anew and buy everything again Tad By the end of the relationship I had no friends. I had no outside activities. I had nothing, because everything that I was interested in, every friendship I had, threatened her Scott

14 Impacts of family violence upon male victims Loss of contact with children and/or step-children Concern about children post- separation She not only destroyed me when we were together, but stopping me from seeing the kids - my life was not worth living then Steve I thought of my options... Leave? I could not abandon my kids. I would rather have died, and thought of it Alan Being totally defeated and too frightened to leave my son alone with this monster, I remained and capitulated Peter

15 Impacts of family violence upon male victims Violence against women campaigns, while helping women, can inadvertently re-victimise some male victims of family violence and their children I have to say how deeply insulted I am when I see these advertisements on TV... I literally feel sick in the stomach and if my boys are in the room, they get angry, because they have all been hurt by an abusive woman Peter

16 Impacts of family violence upon the children of male victims Children of male victims can suffer the same impacts as children of female victims, including The abuse of witnessing family violence by their parents, step-parents or other family members Direct violence and abuse themselves My wife hits me... tries running me down in our car, smashes the house up... We have an 8-month old daughter that has seen the lot. Two days ago I was holding my daughter while she was punching me, just missing the baby James She would bash and bash him [my son] till he was on the floor in a foetal position. She would be standing above him and swinging hits at him, like a flailing machine Peter

17 Impacts of family violence upon the children of male victims Negative impacts on their behavioural, cognitive and emotional functioning and social development Harm to their education and later employment prospects As a result of the violence that went on... the little three year old doesnt speak properly Anonymous My boy would then go on to suffer horrendous physical, emotional and psychological abuse for the whole of the 13.5 years he lived with his mother Peter

18 Impacts of family violence upon the children of male victims Increased possibility of growing up to perpetrate or be victims of violence in their own relationships (the majority however do not) To break the cycle of violence, public education campaigns must say no equally to violence against women and men Witnessing parental domestic violence had a significant effect on young peoples attitudes and experiences. Witnessing was also the strongest predictor of subsequent perpetration by young people. The best predictor of perpetration was witnessing certain types of female to male violence, whilst the best predictor of victimisation in personal relationships was having witnessed male to female violence. National Crime Prevention (2001). Young people and domestic violence: National research on young people's attitudes to and experiences of domestic violence. Barton: Attorney-General's Dept. Witnessing parental domestic violence had a significant effect on young peoples attitudes and experiences. Witnessing was also the strongest predictor of subsequent perpetration by young people. The best predictor of perpetration was witnessing certain types of female to male violence, whilst the best predictor of victimisation in personal relationships was having witnessed male to female violence. National Crime Prevention (2001). Young people and domestic violence: National research on young people's attitudes to and experiences of domestic violence. Barton: Attorney-General's Dept.

19 Barriers to male victims disclosing their abuse Male victims of family violence and abuse - like women - often face many barriers to disclosing their abuse However, male victims face a set of unique barriers which make them much less likely to report being a victim of family violence External barriers: where to seek help? how to seek help? nowhere to escape to, not believed or understood, experiences minimised, blamed for abuse, services unable to offer appropriate help, false arrest because of gender (children left unprotected) Internal barriers: shame, embarrassment, social stigma, unable to protect themselves, loss of independence, fear of being laughed at or ridiculed, weak or wimpy, disbelief, denial, excuses

20 Overseas services for male victims of FV and their children Helplines Resources Charities Support groups Campaigns Websites Shelters Financial aid

21 What about Australia? Generic support is available but often unaware of unique issues, therefore often unable to offer effective and appropriate help Some generic services do not believe male victims, minimise their experiences or even blame them for the abuse. Service providers rated themselves and their agencies as only moderately effective in (1) overcoming the barriers to men disclosing and (2) harnessing the factors that facilitate disclosure... there is a lot of work needed in terms of training and service design if agencies are to be effective in assisting men to disclose abuse. Tilbrook, E., Allan, A., & Dear, G. (2010). Intimate partner abuse of men. East Perth: Men's Advisory Network. Service providers rated themselves and their agencies as only moderately effective in (1) overcoming the barriers to men disclosing and (2) harnessing the factors that facilitate disclosure... there is a lot of work needed in terms of training and service design if agencies are to be effective in assisting men to disclose abuse. Tilbrook, E., Allan, A., & Dear, G. (2010). Intimate partner abuse of men. East Perth: Men's Advisory Network.

22 Overview of family violence services in Australia, May 2011

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25 Overview of family violence services for men in Australia, May 2011

26 What are we left with, in terms of tailored, appropriate services for men? Mensline Australia (National) Mensline Queensland and Mensline Court Support Service (QLD) Hunter Domestic Violence Support & Advisory Services (NSW) HDHS Police Referral Service (Hawkesbury, Sydney) Individual counselling services (harder for men to find/afford) One in Three Campaign (website) (National) domesticviolence.nsw.gov.au (single page) (NSW) Department of Health and Families male resources (NT).

27 Professional development (for workers in the sector) Working with Men affected by Violence Training Program

28 How to meet the needs of male victims of family violence and their children? Intimate Partner Abuse of Men (ECU, 2010) report recommendations: 1. Government funded public awareness campaigns 2. Publicly-funded services specifically for male victims 3. Consideration of how services for male victims can be integrated with general services and womens services 4. Training for workers in the sector What else?

29 Contact us Greg Andresen Tel One in Three Campaign Mens Health Australia Mens Health Australia


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