Mark Brooks, chair of The ManKind Initiative that supports male victims of domestic violence says it's time that separated mothers who use their children to control and abuse their ex are recognised as perpetrators of domestic abuse.
It can be argued and may have that there are already laws covering this including stalking and harassment legislation so why would should there be new laws? It is a fair point but to ensure there is clarity for the police, prosecutors and juries that coercion was an act of domestic abuse we took the view that it needed to be spelt out.
The key features that we put in our submission were to call for the inclusion, definition and recognition of a number of key issues that are male victim centric. For far too many fathers across the UK these themes are all too familiar, yet unrecognised. As if they are taboos and anti-PC so you are not allowed to say anything, but the ManKind Initiative has never been afraid of speaking truth to power.
The three themes we demand are included:
1) It will reduce the ‘believability threshold’ for male victims to the same level for female victims. This is broadly because while the statutory sector will recognise physical injuries on a male, they will not so readily accept or recognise non-physical ‘controlling or coercive’ behaviour on a man.
2) The threat and actual use of false allegations of domestic abuse is itself a domestic abuse crime. This also includes the threat and actual use of false allegations of child abuse.
3) Parental alienation by the parent with “custody” (normally the mother) when couples separate
On the last point, the charity believes that where a family court has issued a contact order that provides for a parent (normally a father) to have prescribed contact periods with his children and that there is a clear pattern where the contact order is deliberately broken and repeatedly so, this should be classed and recognised as a ‘controlling and coercive behaviour’.
It should therefore be deemed as domestic abuse. This is because it ‘regulates the everyday behaviour of the victim’ and also ‘punishes the victim’. As the Home Office domestic abuse definition includes partners who have been in an intimate relationship, we believe this will apply.
The effect of repeatedly breaching contact orders is that it forms a pattern of control and coercion by the perpetrator (the person with custody of the children) and the victim (non-custodial parent). At one level, this includes the continual and purposeful disruption of the life of the non-custodial parent. This ranges from the continual last minute cancellation of agreed appointments (agreed by the Family Law court) for child contact, to the constant need and cost of going back to the Family Law court to enforce already agreed contact orders. This controlling and coercive behaviour will also have a negative effect on the children and the relationship they have with the non-custodial parent.
Our view from the experiences on the helpline which takes 1500 calls every year is that the threat and use of false allegations and the use of children as pawns are becoming "weapons of choice" for female perpetrators of domestic abuse. We recognise it and fathers recognise it - our job is to ensure the justice system recognises it too.
---Photo Credit: flickr/Mike Licht
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