Men constitute a demographic group the same size as do women. The Commissioners admitted that one in four victims of DV are male (although that’s understating the correct figure). And yet here we see the discussion of male victims tucked away in a section of the report dealing with the needs of various minority groups. I recently observed the same approach being taken in the recent Queensland DV Inquiry.
Still it could have been worse, for male victims didn’t even rate a mention as constituting even a minority group in the Issues Paper produced by the Commission in March 2015 (refer clause 35).
And so in the final Royal Commission report a sub-section entitled ‘Male Victims’ can be found in Volume 5, which includes discussion of each of the following affected groups in the community:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (60 pages)
Older people (32 pages)
Culturally and linguistically diverse communities (32 pages)
Faith communities (10 pages)
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities (26 pages)
People with disabilities (38 pages)
Male victims (10 pages)
Rural, regional and remote communities (22 pages)
Women in prison (14 pages)
Women working in the sex industry (8 pages)
(Men in prison and men working in the sex industry are apparently exempted from involvement in family violence).
At ten pages in length the ‘Male Victims’ sub-section constitutes 0.48% of the bulk of this mammoth 2,082 page report, and features only two of the report’s 227 recommendations. The Commission’s report, by the way, cost $13.5 million.
Recommendation 180. The Victorian Government publicise and promote the Victims Support Agency in any information campaign relating to family violence as the primary source of assistance for male victims. The agency should also provide appropriate online resources for male victims [within 12 months].
Recommendation 181. The Victims Support Agency continue to receive all police referrals (L17 forms) relating to male victims, including after the establishment of the Support and Safety Hubs. The agency and all other relevant support services should develop joint arrangements to ensure that male victims of family violence are supported in obtaining the help they need [within two years].
Forgive me, but after reading these, the earth isn’t exactly moving for me. You’d think that if the Commissioners were only going to allocate two recommendations specifically in relation to the needs of male victims, then they might have come up with something a little more incisive and substantial than these.
One only has to read as far as the second paragraph of the ‘Male Victims’ section to see male victimisation being minimised. Do you recognise the following gem of many earlier pro-feminist reports/papers on domestic violence?
“Violence by women towards male partners is generally less severe than that of men towards their female partners.” (No citation provided)
On p209 I note the statement “A lack of data makes it difficult to determine the extent of the service gap for male victims of family violence.” And yet no subsequent recommendation that suitable research be undertaken.
Then on p210 “A number of men expressed a particular sense of injustice in connection with family violence intervention orders. In particular, some said the justice system was unable to differentiate between ‘true perpetrators’ of family violence and those men who were ‘set up’ by a female partner.
Conversely, the Commission heard that it was common for male perpetrators of family violence to blame their situation on unfair legal processes, rather than accepting responsibility for their own behaviour.” (The latter attributed to community legal service with no evidence provided of statistical validity)
My initial impression of the report prior to undertaking a more thorough reading?
I’m disgusted. By no means surprised. But most definitely disgusted.
With regards to its treatment of male victims, the Commission’s report represents nothing more than a token effort at providing a semblance of the level of support and compassion provided for female victims of domestic violence.
We really do still have a very long way to go to achieve gender equality and justice in this regard.
The most positive aspects of the report I can see thus far are that:
- Some attention was given to the need for greater oversight, review and performance measures in the provision of domestic violence services. This is an issue that I addressed in both my submission, and in my blog post in relation to the Domestic Violence Industry.
- Some attention was given to the significance of the impact of domestic violence (and presumably child abuse and neglect) on children with regards to its effect in creating a generational cycle of abuse. This is, I believe, a causal factor which is far more significant that gender inequality. (Postscript: Unfortunately however it seems that the rapporteurs have even managed to apply gender bias to this issue – see comments below from Greg Andresen of the One in Three organisation)
Urgent Family Violence Investment Will Help Keep Women And Children Safe (13 April 2016) Only one mention of the word “men” here, and that is in relation to behaviour change programs fos abusive men. Male victims and/or female perpetrators? Erased
Family violence: Portrait of an abuser (30 March 2016)
Royal Commission into Family Violence: what you need to know (30 March 2016)