Why is Male Domestic Abuse Taboo Whilst Women are Encouraged to Speak Out?
Young girls are taught that we are never to stay in a relationship where we’re hit, controlled or treated as anything other than a queen by our partners. Boys, in turn, are taught to treat women with respect and be a perfect gentleman. These are perfectly acceptable rules and, over time, have become a societal norm, but things need to change. According to an article by Siobhan Fenton in the Independent, the number of women convicted of domestic violence is at a record high. This could be due to the fact that more existing male victims are choosing to come forward about their experiences or that society is getting less tolerant of it, but 5,641 women were convicted of perpetuating male domestic violence in 2015. Apart from a slight dip in 2012-2013, this has been an alarming trend since 2006, and yet male victims are given nowhere near the same budget as female victims to campaign, or offered support by the police or courts – they are alone in their fights.
Societal Perceptions A major part of the problem is societies perception of females hitting males. A large proportion of people seem to think that this is acceptable and that it is nowhere near as bad as a male hitting a female. An example of this double standard was shown in a societal experiment conducted by ManKind that flipped the roles on domestic abuse and tested what a crowd would do if they saw a male hit a female. To make the experiment fair, they first had a male attack the female. As to be expected, when the male actor shouts and shoves the female actress, the passing crowd were furious and intervened quickly to protect the female victim. However, when the tables were turned and the female adopted the aggressive role, not a single passerby got involved. They either walked pass or, in the most shocking act at all, even laughed at what was happening. If you want to see this experiment for yourself, click here. These results do pose a more serious question though – why is females abusing males seen as funny whilst the opposite is seen as horrendous? Men experience exactly the same emotions when abused as females do, they have just been made to feel that it’s a sign of weakness to express their feelings the same way.
So what can we do? Unfortunately, there is no quick solution to this problem. There are some seemingly obvious fixes that would go a long way to helping, such as allocating some of the £80 million a year dedicated to female abuse victims to male abuse victims, using both male and females in promotional material so it becomes a ‘norm’ (not normal that they are hit but normal that both sexes can be hit) or not promoting laws that refer to solely protecting women and girls. These are not immediate fixes, and will take time, but don’t get disheartened, there are five crucial things you can do in the mean time. Talk! The biggest thing you can do is talk about domestic violence. Talk about it with your friends, talk about it with your family and talk about it with your children. The more we talk about it and bring it out into the open, the less taboo it becomes. Throughout these discussions, keep your language gender neutral. Make it clear that it is just as bad for a woman to hit a man as it is for a man to hit a woman, that no one should make you feel inferior, especially not a partner, and encourage them to defy the gender stereotypes and discuss any problems or concerns they have in their relationships. Many men stay in abusive relationships longer than they should because they are embarrassed to admit that they are being abused by a woman – reiterate that this is nothing to be ashamed off and is as frowned upon by society as a man abusing a female.
Share, Share, Share! Social media is an incredibly powerful thing. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is the most powerful mainstream communication of the 21st century, so let’s use it. Firstly, join the Suffragents Facebook and Twitter page to join a community of over 9,000 followers, all of which are fighting for the same thing: justice. Join in the discussions we have, then share and retweet our statuses on your page to get people talking about it. Not just our statuses either. Share pictures, articles, blogs and anything that you find that you think the world needs to know. It doesn’t have to just be positive either, use your social media to call out people in power (MPs, celebrities etc.) that are saying things that encourage sexism or imply, in any way, that domestic violence only happens to women. This includes released reports such as Women’s Aid ‘Nineteen Child Homicides’ , which horrifyingly implied that the secret courts should make it even harder for fathers to get access to their children (read more about it here).
Question Question those in power, question reports that put fault at the feet of a single sex (both female and male), such as the latest report by Women’s Aid, and question your local MPs. Visit their surgeries, write them letters/emails and ring them. Make it difficult for them to ignore the clear lack in support men have, from the police as victims, and from the judicial courts as fathers. To make this even easier for you, we have collected the details of all the MPs in the UK (available here). These are sorted by constituency so you’ll be able to find the details you need quickly.
Sign our Manifesto We have worked hard to create a manifest entitled ‘Manifesto for Men's Rights: Children and Grandparents in Divorce Cases’. Each of the 35 points have been made after scrupulous research, discussion and planning. It has been designed with the aim of changing the law so that fathers get treated exactly the same as mothers in the eyes of the secret family courts. It is long but not fully developed yet. Read through the points and let us know what you think by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org – No point is too small, so if you think it needs adding, let us know! Once it is fully formed, and we’re sure we haven’t missed anything off of it, we will try and push it through to Parliament to make a change that is long overdue and desperately needed.
Finally – Fill in our Survey! The founder of Suffragents recently met with a Police and Crimes Commissioner at a social event. Ever the opportunist, he asked the PCC why women are given so much help whilst male victims are pushed to the backburner and left to fend on their own. The PCC informed him that, despite the ONS acknowledging a massive 40% of domestic violence is against men (which I strongly believe is incorrect as we know men under report cases), they believe women are more abused which is why they get their help. This is where we need your help. As of 4.30pm on the 10/10/2016, we were approaching 9,500 followers on Facebook, and we need each and every one of them to fill in our survey! This survey has just 40 questions and should take no longer than 5 minutes, and will ask you questions regarding your experiences with the police in regards to the abuse. This can change the future for victims everywhere so it is vital you do it – otherwise you can’t complain!