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Men’s Health Australia

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Presentation on theme: "Men’s Health Australia"— Presentation transcript:

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

2 Men’s Health Australia
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. Men’s 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. Physical violence, intimidation and threats - causing pain and injury, denial of sleep, warmth or nutrition, denial of needed medical care, sexual assault, violence to property or animals, disablement and murder Sexual abuse - nonconsensual sexual activity including situations where victims agree to sexual activity to prevent the escalation of some other form of abuse; withholding of sexual activity as a form of power and control Psychological (emotional and cognitive) abuse - undermining the victim’s self-respect and sense of worth or undermining the security of the victim’s own logic and reasoning Verbal abuse - the use of language designed to humiliate, degrade, demean, intimidate, or subjugate. Often involves yelling, shouting, screaming and/or swearing Financial or economic abuse - depriving victims of basic necessities, seizure of income or assets, and unreasonable denial of the means necessary to participate in a social life Social abuse - the imposition of isolation through the control of social activity, deprivation of liberty, or the deliberate creation of unreasonable dependence Spiritual abuse - deprecation of the victim’s spiritual worth, beliefs, or deeds; preventing victims from performing spiritual rituals; or causing victims to transgress spiritual norms

8 Impacts of family violence upon male victims
Fear and loss of feelings of safety Feelings of guilt and/or shame “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 “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

9 Impacts of family violence upon male victims
Feelings of helplessness Difficulties in trusting others Anxiety and flashbacks Unresolved anger Loneliness and isolation “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 “I was isolated entirely from my family and friends and yet was expected to be fully and overly involved with hers” Dan

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 “I’ve put myself in my own prison because I don’t 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 one’s 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, you’re just supposed to deal with it, and I’d 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 Male victims of family violence often find it distressing to watch social marketing campaigns suggesting that men are the only perpetrators of family violence and women and children the only victims.This can increase their feelings of helplessness, isolation, low self-esteem, depression, anger and loss of manhood. “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 doesn’t 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 people’s 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 Many barriers to male victims disclosing their abuse are created or amplified by the lack of public acknowledgement that males can also be victims of family violence, the lack of appropriate services for male victims and their children, and the lack of appropriate help available for male victims from existing services. ... Many male victims face barriers to disclosing their abuse because of the challenges such disclosure brings to their sense of manhood.

20 Overseas services for male victims of FV and their children
Helplines Resources Campaigns Financial aid Dedicated telephone support lines for male victims in UK, Ireland, USA & Canada (e.g. Men's Advice Line in UK & Amen in Ireland) Printed and electronic resources in UK, USA & Canada (e.g. For Men Affected by Domestic Violence (UK) - good resource from Greater London Domestic Violence Project; Men Abused by Women in Intimate Relationships (Canada) - Excellent electronic resource by Alberta Children’s Services) Charities and support groups in UK, Ireland, USA, Canada & India (e.g. ManKind Initiative (UK); Abused Men In Scotland) Community Education and Awareness Campaigns in UK (Male Domestic Violence Awareness Week by National Centre for Domestic Violence (UK), Strathclyde Police domestic abuse campaign (Scotland). Websites in UK, Ireland, USA and Switzerland (e.g. Male Abuse Awareness Website (USA). Shelters for men and their children in UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark & NZ (e.g. Stichting Wende (Netherlands) - government funded shelters in 4 largest cities - all are currently full) Shelters that take both men & women & their children in USA (e.g. WEAVE (USA) - primary provider of crisis intervention services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Sacramento County) Financial aid in Taiwan (e.g. new rules passed by the Legislative Yuan included welfare aid to male victims). Charities Websites Shelters Support groups

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. Some generic (i.e. not male-specific or male-friendly) support is available but such services are often unaware of the unique issues faced by male victims of family violence and are therefore unable to offer effective and appropriate help. Another issue is that while individual workers within generic services might be aware of the issues, they often face workplace cultures and systems that aren’t supportive. 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
My apologies if I’ve inadvertently left your service off this chart. Many of these services (in pink) are women’s only services that aren’t available to men, so let’s remove them...

23 Overview of family violence services in Australia, May 2011
It really is a lucky dip as to whether a generic service that men approach is able to support them appropriately, so let’s remove the generic services from the chart...

24 Overview of family violence services in Australia, May 2011
The services marked in light blue are men’s services but they don’t specialise in the area of family violence so let’s remove them...

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). Mensline Australia - the Federal Government has committed $750,000 to train their counsellors to support male victims of family violence. This is the first funding for male victims in Australian history, as far as we are aware. However we don’t know whether this funding has been actually allocated, who will be conducting the training, and how appropriate it will be. Mensline is also often a dead end for many male victims who call, as there are so few services available for Mensline to refer them to. And until the One in Three campaign launched, Mensline provided no resources for male victims, just male perpetrators. - Hawkesbury District Health Service (NSW) - Since the start of 2011, Windsor police have been referring men who are victims of family violence to HDHS for counselling.

27 Professional development (for workers in the sector)
Working with Men affected by Violence Training Program Greg Millan will talk about this program shortly

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 women’s services 4. Training for workers in the sector What else? Groundbreaking 2010 Intimate Partner Abuse of Men report surveyed almost 200 service providers from around Australia and came up with 4 key recommendations: That government funded public awareness campaigns be conducted to raise awareness of intimate partner violence against men. Such campaigns need to be very carefully designed so as to complement campaigns about family violence against women and children and not to damage the effectiveness of those campaigns. Consideration should be given to providing publicly-funded services specifically for male victims of intimate partner abuse. A similar range of services that are currently available to women (although many would argue are insufficiently available) were identified as being required for an effective service response to the needs of men. These include counselling and support services, gender-sensitive services (specifically for men), accommodation services, helplines and crisis response, community education and prevention programmes, specialist family violence services for diverse sections of the male population (e.g. gay men, aboriginal men); financial support; court services and legal advice; improved policing responses; support groups; perpetrator programs for women; health service screening tools. Consideration should be given to how services for male victims of intimate partner abuse can be integrated with services for female victims and general services for victims of family violence in all its forms. It is likely that some types of service can be effectively integrated while others will need to be gender-specific. Workers in the broader health and welfare fields should be provided with training to assist them to respond effectively to male victims of intimate partner abuse. In particular, these workers need training in how to dismantle the barriers to men disclosing their abuse and strengthening the factors that facilitate men’s disclosure of their abuse What else? Education of MPs and public servants; Inclusion in the National Plan and associated systemic reforms; Better ABS and other data; Tertiary education courses (social work; other health and human services) need to include specific training about meeting the needs of male victims of family violence and their children.

29 Men’s Health Australia
Contact us Greg Andresen Tel One in Three Campaign Men’s Health Australia Men’s Health Australia


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