Do domestic violence ‘help-lines’ help male victims? How?

Some time ago I wrote a post about an Australian domestic violence organisation called ‘DV Connect’ and how they treated men who contacted them. I’d suggest taking a read of that now if you have the time. This other post may be of broader interest.

I haven’t written anything more about the topic. Yet at the same time, it is something which is put in our face every time the media (TV) runs an item on domestic violence and finishes with the advice to call (such and such agency) if “you are troubled by violent or abusive behaviour from your partner”. Which leaves everyone thinking that at least some help is available for (all) victims of domestic behaviour. But it’s not so.

Most agencies in the domestic violence sector will either turn male callers away or will (officially) cater for them, but on the (wink/nudge) understanding that they are either abusers trying to locate their partners, or are simply abusers in denial.

But now the topic of whether domestic violence help-lines actually do assist male callers has been raised again by an English researcher, Deborah Powney (Twitter id = @Firebird_psych). On 14 April 2020 Deborah began sending daily tweets as per the following:

“Can @RefugeCharity@ukhomeoffice be clear whether the 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline directly supports male victims of domestic abuse or not? Can they clearly state what happens when a man calls? @ManKindInit@nicolejacobsST@10DowningStreet@patel4witham

Simple question. Shouldn’t take long to answer. And she waited. And while she did, she asked one or two further questions, for example:

“Could you provide the numbers of female perpetrators you have helped in the past 12 month? Could also provide the number of female perpetrator programmes that Respect have accredited in the same time period?” (To @RespectUK on 29 April 2020)

It took until 15 May 2020 before Deborah received an initial response.

“Hi, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline is branded as a women’s helpline, however if we do receive calls from men the Helpline our staff will always listen, risk assess, address any safeguarding issues and validate the experience. They will then refer them to the Men’s Advice Line which provides specialist support for men.”

Deborah responded the same day, as follows: “Thank you for your response. Just to clarify – you do not help male victims at all – other than ‘immediate’ referal to the @RespectUK men’s helpline. Is that correct?”

@RefugeCharity further responded (also 15 May 2020)

“Hi, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline is branded as a women’s helpline, however if we do receive calls from men the Helpline our staff will always listen, risk assess, address any safeguarding issues and validate the experience. The national domestic abuse helpline, which Refuge runs, is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days week. If male callers contact us, we refer them immediately to the men’s advice line, which is a specialist service for male victims of domestic abuse. They will then refer them to the Men’s Advice Line which provides specialist support for men.”

On 15 May 2020 Deborah then asked:

“Can @RefugeCharity@ukhomeoffice be clear what support the 24 hour National DA Helpline gives to male victims of domestic abuse when the @RespectUK taxpayer- funded “Men’s Advice Line” is closed (from either 5pm or 8pm weekdays to 9am & weekends) @nicolejacobsST@pritipatel”

While waiting for a response to the above, on 17 May 2020 Deborah queried another troubling aspect of the UK Government’s current DV response:

@martintandc @RespectUK @JoTodd4 Could you clearly explain why you make specific reference to male terrorists in your Toolkit for working with Male Victims of domestic abuse for the Men’s Advice Line? @nicolejacobsST @pritipatel @ukhomeoffice @mankind @MartinDaubney @PhilipDaviesUK

“For instance, the biggest denominator in acts of terrorism and mass killings is that almost all of the perpetrators are men. Women suffer mental illness at roughly the same rate as men, but almost none commit large-scale violence. Similarly, the levels of suicide for men are much greater then for women, because of social pressure on men not to seek help to deal with their emotional problems”. (Source)

Response subsequently received from a reader (19 May 2020)

From reading this material it seems obvious to me that staff in the relevant agencies had not considered how male callers were being dealt with, let alone how they should be dealt with. The topic was not even ‘on the radar’ as it was seemingly seen to be unimportant, and offering to assist men at all was seen as merely a token gesture.

You might wish to now refer to Deborah’s Twitter account to see if any further responses have been received from government, domestic violence industry, or readers.

(Some information about Deborah’s current research project regarding the experience of male victims of domestic violence can be found here.)

Has there been a surge in domestic violence during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic the feminist lobby has claimed that there has been a surge* in domestic violence. (*Note that the term ‘surge’ has been well and truly overtaken by now, more recently by ‘staggering increase‘ or ‘driving a spike‘). This trend has manifested itself across several countries, with the UN Women agency being a significant player. UN Women has produced guidelines in relation to gathering data about domestic violence against women.

The feminist lobby has linked this alleged increase in violence to, in particular, the common practice of governments requiring people to quarantine in their own homes. The proof offered to support the feminist position has primarily been claimed to be significant increases in call volume to DV help-lines (largely operated by feminist NGO’s). There have also been similar claims made in relation to alleged increases in traffic to web sites dealing with the welfare of victims of DV.

In only one of the media articles I read, prior to uploading this post, was reference made to an increase in the number of calls to police. This did not relate to increases in the number of charges laid, nor punishments meted out, but rather to queries made by people concerned about a perceived threat of DV.

I would suggest, as have others, that domestic violence is the feminist lobby’s primary cash-cow. Consider too, for example, the salary of DV agency bosses such as Sandra Horley, who is reported to receive a remuneration package of more than £210,000. The British Prime Minister is currently paid approx. £155,000.

To base government policy, even just one-off hand-outs of public money, on unverified allegations, is at best naïve. And when such claims are being provided by individuals with a vested interest in promoting a public view of a problem that they assert to be large & growing. Well, one might label such vested interest ‘ideological bias’, ‘pecuniary interest’, or worse as per the flow-chart below (Source). But whatever you call it, it is by no means competent, objective, unbiased research.

Image

It is particularly annoying that whilst the feminist-saturated domestic violence industry is loudly proclaiming a jump in violence in the home, they are maintaining their silence with respect to the reality of female-perpetrated assaults/abuse of men and children.

The other galling issue, although unrelated to Covid-19, is that I have belatedly learnt that, in the UK, the rate of women being killed by their partner was now at a 40 year low (Source). You would think that this would be shouted from the rooftops, wouldn’t you? Well, unless people sought to maintain perception of a growing epidemic. One that desperately demands further public funding.

What follows now are a series of media releases or articles dealing with the issue, presented in reverse chronological order:

Urgent action needed to end pandemic of gender-based violence, say women’s rights experts (15 July 2020) Wow, now DV is the pandemic. Virus, listen, sorry, but it’s not all about you!

Domestic abuse charity anticipates ‘a tsunami of calls’ as figures rise (29 July 2020) A “tsunami of calls” – now that’s a bold new term

COVID-19 pandemic leads to rise in violence against women and girls in Asia Pacific, new report shows (22 July 2020) And ‘Plan International’ doesn’t have any history of feminist bias, now does it? I note too, that the article doesn’t identify the gender of perpetrators of child sex tourism. But it was 100% men, right?

Domestic violence on the rise during pandemic (13 July 2020) “The survey of 15,000 Australian women in May provides the most detailed information in the world about the prevalence and nature of domestic violence experienced by women during the pandemic.” How many men did they say were surveyed? That would be *none*

No spike in home violence, police say (10 June 2020) ‘The Australian’ newspaper tells us that NSW authorities “almost doubled domestic violence checks” but found “no increase in abuse rates“.

‘Tsunami’ warning for domestic violence networks as victims try to escape coronavirus lockdown (6 June 2020)

“Professor Wendt says women are experiencing violence at a more “intense level” as they try to survive the restrictions and plan their escape as measures lift”. Needless to say, what constitutes a “more intense level” is left to the imagination, and no supporting statistics are provided to quantify intensity.

NSW domestic violence down 12% amid virus (28 May 2020) Finally, the first of the ‘official’ figures emerge, and surprise, surprise …

UK Domestic Abuse Charity Sees 10-Fold Spike in Website Traffic During COVID-19 Lockdown (28 May 2020)

COVID-19 funding to boost domestic violence support (26 May 2020) Australia. The NSW and Federal Governments “investing” more than $21 million to boost frontline services and other supports.

Image

Clearly there’s no need to study the implications for male victims (there’s so darn few of them calling in for help, you see)

No evidence that domestic violence is rising due to COVID-19 (11 May 2020) USA

Government to invest millions into family violence services (11 May 2020) Meanwhile, also in New Zealand, “demand during lockdown increased by some 35 percent compared to last year, but she believed the full impact was yet to emerge.”

Coronavirus: Assault decline eases fears of spike in domestic abuse, by Kieran Gair (10 May 2020) Australia

Hollande highlights domestic violence in French lockdown (9 May 2020) The World Health Organisation claims that domestic violence has increased by 60% (based on “emergency calls by women” they claimed had been made).

Dementia charity sees 44% increase in calls during COVID-19 lockdown (9 May 2020) UK. Imagine 44% more people becoming demented. Better get your chequebook out, Prime Minister. Look out Team Harpie #HostileTakeover

The shocking rise in domestic violence reports since lockdown (3 May 2020) Australia

“One of the terrible side effects of Australia being in lockdown is the alarming rise in the number of people ringing domestic violence help lines”

Coronavirus: Government pledges £76m for abuse victims (2 May 2020) UK

“But Labour said this fell “woefully short” of what was needed and proposed amendments to the bill that would see 10% of the £750 million charity support package announced last month ring-fenced in a fast-track fund for domestic abuse charities”

Woman who stabbed boyfriend in the hand told police ‘isolation is getting to me’ (1 May 2020) UK

Domestic violence victims seeking help rises 10 per cent after COVID-19 lockdown (1 May 2020) Australia

” … I have just had 50 front-line workers on a statewide forum on the phone and all of them are saying how much busier it is… and now the stats come back to prove it”. “Stats” that agency staff themselves generated … what could go wrong?

“Ms Foster said the figures were concerning because they conflicted with a recent report from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, which found “domestic violence assaults recorded by police did not increase in March 2020, despite social distancing measures commencing … But Ms Foster said the report had sent a “dangerous message” to victims and policymakers. She said it was “irresponsible to put out a report drawing a conclusion that fears that domestic violence would increase hadn’t been realised.”

Coronavirus: Homes a prison as assaults on rise (1 May 2020) Australia

“The Queensland Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Di Farmer, said authorities across the country were grappling with an “amplification” of abuse caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and tough health restrictions.

Domestic violence crisis centres in the state have experienced a 40 per cent spike in calls for help since the start of the pandemic …”

Domestic violence services prepare for demand as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease (1 May 2020) Australia

“The most concerning statistic came from Google data, with the Federal Government seeing a 75 per cent increase in searches about family and domestic violence compared to the average number of searches over the previous five years.”

“Alison Macdonald, acting chief executive of Domestic Violence Victoria, said there was clear evidence a surge in demand was coming. “We know from international evidence that there are spikes in family violence in post emergency and post crisis situations,” she said. “We know from Australian experience with bushfires, with floods and with cyclones.”

Women’s safety and Covid-19: Focus on the evidence (30 April 2020) ANROWS agency. Australia. A slightly more detailed discussion of the information that is currently available

Domestic abuse killings double and calls to helpline surge by 50% during coronavirus lockdown (27 April 2020) UK. And online requests for help have gone up 400%. All as reported by campaigners and agency staff, etc. And gov’t hands over money for yet another awareness campaign (#youarenotalone)

Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on family planning and ending gender-based violence (27 April 2020) Another day, another UN report, with this one asserting that:

“To estimate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on efforts to end gender-based violence, Avenir Health modelled a delay in the scale-up of prevention efforts as attention and resources are devoted to COVID-19, and an increase in violence during the period of lockdown. Assuming a slow start to the scale-up of prevention programmes (i.e., a 2-year delay in 2020 and 2021), followed by a rapid expansion of prevention programs in the middle of the decade, an estimated 2 million additional instances of intimate partner violence in 2020-2021 are expected.”

“COVID-19 pandemic is likely to cause a one-third reduction in progress towards ending gender-based violence by 2030”

“For every 3 months the lockdown continues, an additional 15 million additional cases of gender-based violence are expected”

That’s right, no police reports were used to generate predictions. It was all based on modelling. Remarkable. And of course, no mention anywhere of female perpetration.

UK lockdown: Calls to domestic abuse helpline jump by half (27 April 2020) UK. I’m getting dizzy, now calls to helplines *are* jumping up (but still no ‘real’ statistics).

Man fighting for life, woman expected to be charged following serious stabbing at Kilburn in Adelaide (25 April 2020) South Australia

Domestic violence in the wake of COVID-19 (23 April 2020) NSW, Australia

“Domestic violence assaults recorded by police did not increase in March 2020”

Hotels say offer of refuge for domestic abuse victims has been snubbed (19 April 2020) UK. Just send cash please

Coronavirus Australia: Why calls to domestic violence helplines are plummeting (18 April 2020) So a surge in calls means more domestic violence hence more funds are needed for feminist NGO’s, whereas a lull in calls means the same thing. OK, sure

Domestic abuse killings ‘more than double’ amid Covid-19 lockdown (15 April 2020) As identified by “campaigners”. Read more about ‘Counting Dead Women’ here.

COVID-19: The bystander role has never been more critical in calling out (9 April 2020) What’s going on? There appears to be a change of feminist tactics, as suddenly statements admitting that there has been no boost in the number of DV victims post commencement of pandemic.

No spike in domestic violence in Tasmania despite early warnings: police (9 April 2020) Whoops, now that’s awkward. And here’s an unconvincing attempt at recovery by a high-profile feminist spokesperson.

A new Covid-19 crisis: Domestic abuse rises worldwide (7 April 2020)

Statement by Executive-Director UN Women regarding the effect of Covid-19 on the incidence of domestic violence (6 April 2020) Another report released the same week. In each case the ‘proof’ of the link (between Covid-19 and heightened domestic violence) is inferred to be claims made by staff of feminist agencies & NGO’s.

Family violence perpetrators using COVID-19 as ‘a form of abuse we have not experienced before’ (29 March 2020)

‘Covid-19 will slam the door shut’: Australia’s family services brace for domestic violence spike (28 March 2020)

More men die: Women most affected. A Janice Fiamengo video (24 March 2020)

Coronavirus Australia: Why women will feel the impact more than men (17 March 2020) 

More on the Covid-19 issue can be found here, and other blog posts that may be of interest might include:

Public events and domestic violence myth

Partner in arms: A primer on the domestic violence industry

Two awareness campaigns. Only one can be criticised. Cowed by feminism?

*That* West Australian Government DV Helpline web page – Some further background

This blog post follows an earlier post of mine entitled ‘Addressing systemic gender bias in the WA Department for Child Protection and Family Support‘. That item discussed the gender bias that is very evident in a particular WA Government web page promoting a domestic violence helpline service.

The same WA government web page was also the focus of this reddit mens rights discussion thread. Within that thread I came across an interesting post from someone with the moniker ‘dragonsandgoblins’. It’s interesting not just in relation to the information about domestic violence that it contains, but also because of how it demonstrates the censorship that occurs in relation to efforts to broaden the DV debate beyond the feminist-framed male perp/female victim model.

Anyway, this is what the author had to say:

“I actually wrote an article inspired by this exact webpage in 2013 that was published by http://rightnow.org.au/. Or at least it was published for about 4 hours before they pulled it. I’ll copy/paste it here because people may as well read it:

This webpage, hosted by the Government of Western Australia Department for Child Protection, contains two short paragraphs describing the domestic helpline services provided by this state government. The women’s helpline offers a range of services for women experiencing domestic violence. The men’s helpline on the other hand is more singularly focused, only offering counselling, and only for “men who are concerned about becoming violent or abusive“.

The Government of WA does not offer a helpline service to male victims, instead assuming that women are the only victims and that men will always be the perpetrators. This is despite a growing body of evidence that males do suffer from domestic and family violence in significant numbers. For example, the Personal Safety Survey (2006) by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that, 780,500 women and 325,700 men aged 15 years and over experienced violence from a current or previous partner in the last twenty years. In other words, 29.4 per cent of victims who suffered domestic violence were men. 92.5 per cent (301,400) of these male victims suffered this violence at the hands of a female partner.

The Publications and Resources webpage from the Government of WA provides domestic violence resources aimed at the general public and they are as gendered as the helpline services. Out of the “Freedom From Fear” resources, three fact sheets and one booklet are targeted at the violent party and, excluding the fact sheet “How do I know if I’m abusive?”, they all use gendered language that exclusively refers to the violent party as male and the victim as female. All of them bear subtitles describing themselves as being “for men who want to change”, with no reference to women who may want to do the same. The fact sheet aimed at victims also uses the same gendered language.

WA isn’t alone. For example, NSW Legal Aid offers a Domestic Violence Practitioner Service and a Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program which aid women and children who are victims in legal matters such as getting Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) and victims’ compensation. The NSW Government Family & Community Services Staying Home Leaving Violence program “…aims to prevent homelessness by working with the Police to remove the perpetrator from the family home so that women and children can remain safely where they are.” If the NSW Government offers similar programs specialising in male victims, I was unable to find them.

The federal government also discriminates against male victims. The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (The National Plan) paints a pitiful picture of the federal stance on male victims. Along with use of gender biased language The National Plan has seen the Commonwealth commit $86 million to support women and children who are victims and only $0.75 million to male victims. This discrepancy in funding is justified through the use of misleading statistics from the ABS Personal Safety Survey.

The section of the page that discusses male victims provides statistics that only 4.4 per cent (21,200) of men who were physically assaulted in the 12 months prior to the survey were assaulted by a current/previous partner compared with 31 per cent (73,800) of women who were physically assaulted. This is misleading because it doesn’t compare the quantity of male victims to female victims – instead it compares what percentage of all assaults against men were domestic violence to what percentage of all assaults against women were.

Looking at just these numbers – 21,200 male and 73,800 female victims – the divide in funding is twenty-five times greater than the divide in victims. The National Plan claims only “a small proportion of men are victims“, yet the ABS survey shows that they are roughly a quarter of all domestic violence victims. Is that really such a minority as to warrant less than one per cent of the funding committed under The National Plan?

Our state and federal governments are perpetrators of gender discrimination. Those discriminated against are not only men, they are victims. Victims who are denied services and support they need based on their gender.

(I apologise for the fact that some of the figures are out of date (for example I am pretty sure the funding disparity under the national plan has increased since 2013), and any dead links. This is presented unaltered from when it was written in 2013.)”

The author of the paper was then asked “Why was it pulled?” and responded:

“Well it was refined by 3 of their editors and myself before going up. After a while one of them was contacted by the editor in chief who pulled it and asked me to make changes such as explicitly mentioning that women are victims more than men (which I do already, since I actually state numbers), saying that I didn’t want funding for women reduced, and calling DV a gendered crime. He also said that I could be “more critical in relation to statistics”. Note that I only take stats from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, hardly a biased source. He also wanted me to mention that women under report DV. He also said and I quote:

…[the article] can be understood as arguing “men are being discriminated against in favour of women”.

I replied and said that I could make some of these changes but my word count ceiling would need to be increased. I said that I’d be happy to say women under report but I wouldn’t say that without mentioning that men under report too. I also said that I couldn’t avoid the theme that “men are being discriminated against in favour of women” because that is the thesis of the entire piece.

I get the feeling the editor in chief never wanted my article to go up at all because without further discussion he decided that even with changes my article shouldn’t be published because.

Your responses suggest to me that it is likely that even with changes, your article will not be suitable for Right Now. The primary reason for that is that you principally concerned with “the numbers”, as you put it, rather than the human rights debate. This means that you miss the point that these services for female victims of violence are not simply about statistics (the fact that more women are victims of violence in domestic contexts then men) but also about socio-cultural male dominance

In other words, these services exist not only because of the quantity of violence against women, but its gendered nature.

So there’s the rub.

‘DV Connect’ is “non-judgemental” (but men calling their helpline are sneaky perpetrators)

I read an article yesterday entitled ‘A connection to hope in a world of violence‘, concerning the operation of a charity active in the sphere of domestic violence and sexual assault called ‘DV Connect‘. It featured the usual feminist spin that comes with the territory, but the part that turned my stomach was the following:

“Every now and then a perpetrator calls, desperate to find where his spouse is. Often these men present themselves as victims, hoping to unearth the addresses where their partners might be seeking safety from the storm.

Now, just a quick reminder to readers that at least one third of the victims of domestic violence are men. Staff at DV Connect are apparently so astute that they can confidently differentiate between those men (actual victims) and that very small minority of men who are actually abusers. A remarkable feat by any standards.

In their web site DV Connect describe themselves as follows:

“DVConnect is the only state wide telephone service offering anyone affected by domestic or family violence a free ‘crisis hotline’ 24 hours a day 7 days a week

We offer free, professional and non-judgemental telephone support, wherever you live in Queensland.

DVConnect Womensline takes over 4000 calls every month from Queensland women who are in fear of or in immediate threat of danger from Domestic or Family Violence, and on average we assist over 350 of them and often more than 400 children to be moved to safety every month.

We can arrange practical assistance such as counselling, intervention, transport and emergency accommodation for Queensland women and children who are in danger from a violent partner or family member”.

Yes, you read that correctly, their telephone support is “non-judgemental”. I guess they just mean the service provided for female callers, because they seem perfectly willing to judge the men who call … as mainly comprising perpetrators.

And notice how, within the space of a few lines, they morph from an organisation providing services to “anyone affected by domestic or family violence“, to one that’s here to help “Queensland women“.

DV Connect provides both a Mensline and Womensline service. The Mensline page in their web site has been re-written since I originally wrote this post, and now makes mention of men seeking help as both perpetrators and victims of domestic violence. The Womensline page assumes that women can only be victims of domestic violence despite this being obviously untrue.

Details regarding how the Mensline services operates in a discriminatory manner can be found in this reddit discussion thread.

I was unable to locate DV Connect within the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission’s register, but their 2013/14 annual report can be downloaded here. A few extracts illustrating the gynocentric bias within this organisation are shown below:

(p9) “We not only work with almost every specialist and community service throughout Queensland around the safety needs of women and children but we also have the unique position of having a ‘helicopter view’ of the sector as a whole … The physical and psychological safety of women and children living with domestic violence is the overriding focus of our work both on Womensline and Mensline.”

(p14) “An even smaller number of men call Mensline because of violence from a female partner or family member. Often this violence is on a very different level to that experienced where the male is the perpetrator of violence. Most of these situations do not have the element of fear in these relationships …”

(p17/18) “Sadly, hundreds of women, children and their beloved pets across Queensland are constrained in violent and fearful relationships because the fear and practical challenges of leaving are just too overwhelming.”

“Every month in Australia six women die at the hands of their intimate partner, at least one of them is from Queensland” and “Sadly in the year ended June 2014 we held 10 rallies for 18 women who died at the hands of their male partners“.

Minimal mention is made of male victims, apparently less important than pets. And when they are acknowledged (as above) their experience is discounted/diminished. And no mention anywhere, in the entire report, of female perpetrators.

I wish I could say that this type of unfair gender-stereotyping was rare or unusual, but I can’t. The fact is that most organisations working in the field, both government and non-government, are just as biased. Their web pages, their helplines, and their brochures and PR material, all relentlessly drive home a message of men as perpetrators and women as their victims. I provide a few examples of this in other posts within my blog, such as this one.

One of the outcomes of this situation is that only a small number of men call seeking assistance and/or to report what is happening in their homes. I would further suggest that another outcome is the large number of suicides by men involved in situations of actual or alleged domestic violence.

Perversely, DV advocacy groups then use this fact (very small number of male callers versus female callers) to to ‘prove’ their claims that very few men are victims of domestic violence. They also use it as a basis for, for example, reducing the level of services provided for men whilst ramping up the services for women.

Men know full well that they won’t be taken seriously if they call these organisations, and that they may be accused of being perpetrators in denial. Many also know that even if they are given a sympathetic hearing then there are no actual support services available to them (e.g. beds in shelters). In fact, by and large, the only services provided for men are anger management classes (yet, ironically, no such classes are available for the women abusing them).

And invariably (and ridiculously) when anyone dares to question the status quo they are attacked on the basis that they are either ignorant, wilfully denying that women are victims of DV and/or uncaring about the plight of female victims.

But back now to DV Connect’s annual report. The financial statement included within the report informs us that the organisation’s total revenue in 2014 was $3,231,446. The statement does not provide a breakdown of their revenue sources, which is somewhat unusual. I have, however, subsequently been advised by the relevant agency that:

“DVConnect Ltd received $2,853,133 in 2013-2014 and $2,666,064 in 2012-2013 from the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services to provide domestic and family violence and sexual assault support services.”

As is typical for the sector, the overwhelming bulk of DV Connect’s expenditure goes towards salaries and employee-related expenses:

“DVConnect now employs 54 staff including a small management and administration team and almost 50 counselling staff all of whom work varying shifts to cover our 7 day 24 hour telephone service.”

In May 2015 it was announced that “DV Connect will receive an extra $750,000 per year for two years, on top of existing funding ($3.17m in 2014/15) for services including counsellors to expand its Womensline telephone support service.”

This reddit.com discussion thread discusses the discriminatory nature of the Mensline service, and calls on people to write letters in an attempt to resolve this situation.

Further information about DV Connect is available from their web site and Facebook page

And elsewhere in Queensland?

nooptionstoreport

Here are two screenshots from the web site of a Queensland Government agency. The wording assumes that any men seeking help in relation to domestic violence are perpetrators, and that any women seeking help are victims.

Unfortunately this bias is replicated in the web sites of other similar Australian government and non-government agencies. One example, involving a Western Australian government agency, is addressed in another post in my blog.bias

Postscript 27 March 2015: In order to provide further insight into the mindset within DV Connect, let me relay what just occurred. I contributed a comment to the Facebook page of DV Connect, in relation to an item about the release of the QLD Task Force report on family violence. I simply noted that I had prepared some comments on the report and included a link to the relevant page (refer screensave below). By the next morning the comment that I posted had been removed from public view. It seems that DV Connect wants to prevent their supporters accessing alternative perspectives. That looks a lot like ‘controlling behaviour’ to me.

dvconnectdvconnect2

To the left is what I see when I visit DV Connect’s page whilst logged-in to my Facebook account. The screen-save below shows what is visible to members of the public, i.e. no comments

Postscript 14 April 2015: Further censorship with the removal of my comment in response to an inaccurate statement in the DV Connect web site. I simply cited the relevant ABS statistic, but I guess the reality that men face more violence than women was just too triggering.

DVconnect_zap

On 11 September 2015 Di Mangan was quoted as saying that they couldn’t justify running the Mens Helpline on a 24 hour basis as so few calls were being received. Gee, I wonder why?

Fast forwarding now to January 2016 and along comes another advertorial for DV Connect, naturally with male victims & female perps air-brushed out of the picture.

This January 2016 article includes the following quote from the CEO of DV Connect:

“Mangan said abusive men were “emboldened” by the public murders that shook Queensland in 2015, noting that many of the calls received by DV Connect were from men warning that they wanted to harm their partners. Some of the men wanted help while others were calling to make a threat.”

In November 2017, the Courier-Mail published ‘DV Connect chief executive Diane Mangan axed from role amid dispute‘. I’d like to think this move was about improving efficiency & accountability, rather than just personalities, but have little faith in either of the parties involved.

The sort of gender discrimination practiced by DV Connect has been discontinued in one part of the United Kingdom as described in this November 2017 article by HEquel.

Postscript 3 May 2020:Inside the Men’s Referral Service, a call centre dealing with Australia’s abusive men and domestic violence‘. Gender-biased fruit off the same tree?

Postscript 6 May 2020: This video concerns a UK example of gender-biased caller-screening

Elsewhere in this blog you might also be interested in these posts:

On recognising and supporting male victims of domestic violence

So what exactly is the ‘Domestic Violence Industry’?

Australian taxpayer-funded organisations that do little/nothing for men (other than demonising them)

My submission to the Premier’s Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland

My response to the report of the Queensland Task Force on Family Violence

Addressing systemic gender bias in the WA Department for Child Protection and Family Support

Imagine for a moment that you are a guy living in Western Australia. You are enduring periodic violent outbursts from your partner, and one night you go online looking for help. You come across the following web page:

WA_DViolence_helpline

Now I ask you, would you be likely to contact this agency for help? Or would you think, “I’m embarrassed enough already, I don’t want to speak with people who are going to automatically assume that I am the one responsible for the violence.”

Personally I think the web page displays disgraceful anti-male bias and so on 19 May 2014 I emailed the relevant agency stating:

“I wish to draw your attention to material contained in your web site which I consider to be hugely inappropriate. The relevant page is http://www.dcp.wa.gov.au/crisisandemergency/pages/domesticviolencehelplines.aspx

Please be advised – and surely I should not need to inform your department of this fact – but there are in fact such people as female perpetrators of IPV and male victims of IPV. Indeed some studies assert that there is symmetry between genders, ie. equal or almost equal numbers of male/female victims/perpetrators.

If your staff are not aware of this fact then please circulate and study the list of references provided below. As it stands now, the content of your web page is outrageously biased against men and should be re-written to be gender-neutral and not suggest to all readers all men are perpetrators of DV.

For your attention and action at the earliest opportunity please.”

I received the following reply the next day:

“Thank you for your email dated 19 May concerning the language used to describe the roles of the Men’s and Women’s Domestic Violence Helplines.

The Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline is funded to provide telephone based counselling, information, support and referral for men who self- identify  as at risk of, or who are using violence.  It is acknowledged that both women and men can be victims of family and domestic violence.  Should a man experiencing such violence contact the Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline he would be provided with any necessary services and supported accordingly by the telephone counsellor. Counsellors are experienced and their training enables them to identify all scenarios and work with the caller and their presenting issues.

Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline is funded to provided telephone based counselling, information, support and referral for women who are experiencing family and domestic violence.

This is the purpose of the Helplines and the description provided on the website reflects as such.

For all individuals and families who are experiencing violence, the Department for Child Protection and Family Support also provides the following support options:

  • 24/7 Crisis Care service, this is a crisis intervention service providing an immediate response to an individual or family experiencing a crisis, examples include any person experiencing family and domestic violence.
  • Family helpline, 24/7 telephone counselling service providing counselling, support, information and referral to an individual or family experiencing a range of issues.

These services are also on the department’s website.

I hope this response has been useful in advising you of the department’s services to those who are experiencing family and domestic violence from all perspectives. Thank you again for your email.”

And on the 21 May I wrote back to the department saying:

“Thank you for your prompt response to my concerns regarding the content of the web page provided in relation to your helplines. I take it from your response that you do not consider that the wording of the page displays undue bias against men, and consequently you do not propose to amend the content of the page.

We do however agree on the key point that there are both male and female aggressors and male and female victims of aggression, and that all should have access to support and assistance from your organisation.

It is my position, as I think it would be that of any reasonable person reading your web page, that the second sentence of each respective paragraph implies that your service is provided for the use of males who are aggressors and females who are victims, viz.:

“This service provides support and counselling for women experiencing family and domestic violence”, and “This service provides counselling for men who are concerned about becoming violent or abusive.”

I see no reason why the wording used in relation to the two helplines should not be identical, and I would suggest that such an amendment would be entirely appropriate. Consider for example the following suggested re-wording:

WOMEN’S DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELPLINE

The Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline is a state wide 24 hour service. This service provides support and counselling for women who are either experiencing family or domestic violence OR who are concerned about becoming violent or abusive. Our service offers phone counselling, information and advice, referral to local advocacy and support services, liaison with police if necessary and support in escaping situations of family and domestic violence. The service can refer women to safe accommodation if required.

Telephone (08) 9223 1188 Free call 1800 007 339

MEN’S DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELPLINE

The Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline is a state wide 24 hour service. This service provides support and counselling for men who are either experiencing family or domestic violence OR who are concerned about becoming violent or abusive. Our service offers phone counselling, information and advice, referral to local advocacy and support services, liaison with police if necessary and support in escaping situations of family and domestic violence. The service can refer men to safe accommodation if required.

Telephone (08) 9223 1199 Free call 1800 000 599

Darren, I do hope you will give these suggestions due consideration and that you will see merit in removing the gender bias evident in the current page content, via making the proposed amendments. I firmly believe that the current bias is not just discriminatory and inappropriate in a general sense, but would surely also alienate men who might otherwise seek sympathetic assistance from your organization. I look forward to receiving your further response in due course.”

I never received a response to my email, but while I was waiting I scanned the various publications available in the Department’s web site. Unsurprisingly, they also display a high degree of gender bias against men. Some examples:

http://www.dcp.wa.gov.au/CrisisAndEmergency/FDV/Documents/Perpetrator%20Accountability%20in%20Child%20Protection%20Practice.pdf (Sub-titled “A resource for child protection workers about responding to and engaging with men who perpetuate family and domestic violence“. And no, there is no ‘sister’ publication provided for dealing with female abusers.

See page 7 under definition of ‘perpetrator’ where it helpfully points out that “some women also offend against their children“, but that it’s not their fault as “sometimes this reflects an attempt to prevent greater harm from the primary perpetrator of violence …” And yes, that would be a man.

http://www.dcp.wa.gov.au/CrisisAndEmergency/FDV/Documents/Freedom%20From%20Fear/Fact%20sheet-Has%20your%20partner%20hurt%20you.pdf (Written on the basis that the perpetrator of violence is male)

If you too feel that the Department should adopt a more professional and gender-neutral approach then I suggest you make your views known to the relevant Minister, the Honourable Helen Morton MLC (email to Minister.Morton@dpc.wa.gov.au). Alternatively, or in addition to a Ministerial letter, it might be appropriate to lodge a complaint in relation to sex discrimination.

As a footnote, I found this item entitled ‘Commission welcomes initiatives to address gender bias‘. Let’s see how they react when the perpetrator of gender bias is another state government agency.

Still in Western Australia, I noted a phrase in this March 2015 article about a new form of restraining order that is very telling in terms of its inherent anti-male bias:

“Family violence starts usually with the partner controlling every aspect of a woman’s life, the banking, who they speak to, where they go,” [Police Minister Liza Harvey] said.

I guess Liza didn’t say “every aspect of their partners life” as she is of the mistaken belief that all family violence is initiated by men. Shame on you Ms Harvey! But look at the Facebook posts concerning this article – clearly not everyone is buying the feminist perspective.

Note that there is a follow-up post to this one, entitled *That* West Australian Government DV Helpline web page – Some further background

There are also various other posts within this blog concerning domestic violence, perhaps you might like to start with the one entitled domestic violence is not a gendered issue – So why the sexist bias against men?

See also:

Reddit discussion thread on this topic dated November 2015

Reddit mensrights discussion thread on this topic dated March 2015, that features some very interesting comments from concerned individuals. See in particular, comments from ‘dragonsandgoblins‘, also ‘fetafett’, ‘border-box’, ‘Il128’, ‘deadfallpro’, ‘Raditz10’, ‘pookabot’ and ‘regeya’.

WA domestic violence laws pose an insidious threat, by Augusto Zimmermann (24 September 2016)