Meeting the needs of male
victims of family violence & their
children
Greg Andresen
About us
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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
This presentation will...
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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.
This presentation will not...
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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
Defining family violence
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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:
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parents and step-parents abused by children and vice versa
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abuse between siblings
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abuse within other family relationships (grandparents, uncles,
aunts, cousins, etc)
The voices of male victims of
family violence & their children
[Video plays here]
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Source: Channel 5 News (UK)
Forms of abuse
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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.
Impacts of family violence upon
male victims
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Fear and loss of feelings of safety
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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
Impacts of family violence upon
male victims
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Feelings of helplessness
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Difficulties in trusting others
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Anxiety and flashbacks
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Unresolved anger
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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
Impacts of family violence upon
male victims
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Mental health impacts such as
feeling feeling mentally crushed,
withdrawn and without dignity, or
experiencing paranoid delusions
Low self-esteem and/or selfhatred
“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
Impacts of family violence upon
male victims
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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
Impacts of family violence upon
male victims
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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
Impacts of family violence upon
male victims
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Loss of home
“She was left in the house with all the
furniture and equipment and I had to
start anew and buy everything again”
Tad
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Loss of relationships with friends
and family
“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
Impacts of family violence upon
male victims
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Loss of contact with children
and/or step-children
Concern about children postseparation
“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
Impacts of family violence upon
male victims
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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
Impacts of family violence upon
the children of male victims
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Children of male victims can
suffer the same impacts as
children of female victims,
including
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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
Impacts of family violence upon
the children of male victims
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Negative impacts on their
behavioural, cognitive and
emotional functioning and
social development
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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
Impacts of family violence upon
the children of male victims
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Increased possibility of
growing up to perpetrate
or be victims of violence
in their own relationships
(the majority however do
not)
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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.
Barriers to male victims
disclosing their abuse
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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
Overseas services for male
victims of FV and their children
Helplines
Resources
Campaigns
Charities
Financial aid
Websites
Support groups
What about Australia?
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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.
Overview of family violence services
in Australia, May 2011
Overview of family violence services
in Australia, May 2011
Overview of family violence services
in Australia, May 2011
Overview of family violence services
for men in Australia, May 2011
What are we left with, in terms of tailored,
appropriate services for men?
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Mensline Australia (National)
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Mensline Queensland and Mensline Court Support Service (QLD)
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Hunter Domestic Violence Support & Advisory Services (NSW)
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HDHS Police Referral Service (Hawkesbury, Sydney)
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Individual counselling services (harder for men to find/afford)
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One in Three Campaign (website) (National)
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domesticviolence.nsw.gov.au (single page) (NSW)
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Department of Health and Families male resources (NT).
Professional development
(for workers in the sector)
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Working with Men affected by Violence Training Program
How to meet the needs of male victims of
family violence and their children?
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Intimate Partner Abuse of Men (ECU, 2010) report recommendations:
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1. Government funded public awareness campaigns
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2. Publicly-funded services specifically for male victims
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3. Consideration of how services for male victims can be
integrated with general services and women’s services
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4. Training for workers in the sector
What else?
Contact us
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Greg Andresen
Email [email protected]
Tel 0403 813 925
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One in Three Campaign
www.oneinthree.com.au
Men’s Health Australia
www.menshealthaustralia.net
Men’s Health Australia
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PowerPoint - One in Three Campaign