Why would a man who wants to end violence end up fighting with a charity that helps female victims of domestic violence?
—This is article #75 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
I’ve been fighting for male victims of domestic violence in Wales to be given equal treatment by the state for around seven years. As a result, one of the organisations I cross swords with in on a regular basis is Welsh Women’s Aid (WWA), a charity which has been supporting the introduction of a new bill that seeks to help women and girls in Wales, to the exclusion of men and boys.
As part of this work I co-ordinated an online petition which recently prompted WWA to send me an official letter, outlining their response to my campaign. The first thing I noticed was that the letter heading for WWA states very clearly “ putting women and children first”.
This raised a question for me “who comes second?”. One answer is boys who, unlike girls, are excluded by WWA from refuges for victims of domestic violence from quite a younger age. WWA’s letter also carried the statement and logo “ children matter” and yet they makes no reference to keeping girls and boys safe from all forms of domestic violence, including abuse by their own mothers.
WWA frequently mentions the number of women killed by their partner each year but not the 60 to 70 children who are killed each year by their parents. Surely this shocking fact in connection with domestic violence should be clearly recognised by those proclaiming that “ children matter”!
WWA also fails to address the human suffering and distress caused by domestic violence against women ins same-sex relationships. Surely this would be a priority in “ putting women first”?
Suicide amongst men is a major issue in Wales. Recent research has shown that men kill themselves after suffering domestic violence and that this could bring the number of deaths attributable to domestic violence to something like equality between men and women.
I believe that the shaming of men is contributing to these grim statistics and the WWA approach—i.e. “men second”—can only be making matters worse. I also wonder what impact the concept of “men second” may have on young Welsh boys and how young girls may feel about what is, or is not, it is an acceptable way to relate to boys.
Research by Dr Erica Bowen at Coventry University has found that it is seen to be OK to hit boys because “he probably deserves it”.
In a recent paper called “women more aggressive to partners than men”, given to the British Psychological Society, Dr Elizabeth Bates from the University of Cumbria said her research found that:
“ … women engaged in significantly higher levels of controlling behaviour than men …. This study found that women demonstrated a desire to control their partners and were more likely to use physical aggression than men … Thissuggests that [domestic abuse] may not be motivated by patriarchal values and needs to be studied within the context of other forms of aggression, which has potential implications for interventions …”
I find it somewhat troubling that the current policy of the Welsh government continues to be based on the neo-Marxist “patriarchal” theory, which is increasingly inappropriate to new legislation looking forward into the 21st century in Wales.
Solid, evidence based research and practice that protects children and subsequent generations from all sources of domestic abuse (including violent women) must be the central principle that guides government policy and new legislation in Wales moving forward into the 21st century.
In my view, the neo-Marxist “patriarchal” theory continues to dominate the Welsh Government’s thinking as it has not undertaken to treat all victims (both men and women) “equally” in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.
Dr Amanda Robinson, who is the lead author of the report which informed the drafting of the Welsh Bill defines the neo-Marxist theory of domestic abuse as follows:
“The gender paradigm of [domestic abuse] argues that domestic violence is a result of patriarchal social systems where men are exclusively the batterers and females are exclusively the victims of male dominance and privilege.”
“This Neo-Marxian model posits the masculine (bourgeoisie) as occupying the upper rungs of privilege, authority, and power over the feminine (proletariat).
“Thus, domestic violence is the physical manifestation of his social dominance as it is forcibly imposed on her submissive feminine body. Conversely, female violence is initiated reactively, purely as a form of self-defence.”
In my view, female instigators of, and active participants in, domestic abuse in Wales must be recognised equally and correspondingly with male victims in order to formulate interventions that help break the generational cycle of learned dysfunctional and abusive behaviours that perpetuates domestic violence.
Violent women and male victims must not be ignored or marginalised in the formulation of new legislation in the 21st century in Wales because of blind, radicalised dogma and Marxist theories that date back to 50 to 150 years ago.
It is time for us to take a new approach.
—Picture credit: DFAT
Tony Stott campaigns for men in Wales as “Healing Men”.
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men’s Day 2014 by clicking on this link—#100Voices4Men—and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
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