Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Winnipeg Free Press ~ When men are victims

THERE is small, but undeniable evidence that men trying to escape abusive relationships are poorly served in Manitoba. Given the level of services avail­able to assist men suffering violence in the home, it is not surprising that few ask for help.

The few men who overcome the social stigma to reach out must, in Winnipeg, do so during regular working hours of the work week, or stumble through with the best efforts of stand-in aid organizations that answer the call when other resources have closed for the day. The problem, advocates say, frequently a man running from violence gets short-term help through emergency shelters established to help women -- there is no full-time shelter open to men -- they are typically put into a hotel room for a night. They then disappear back into the community. Those men then miss a critical part to breaking the cycle of abuse -- counselling. That counselling is widely available to female victims of domestic violence, who have full-time shelters at their disposal and a cadre of practitioners plugged in to the centres where women frequently seek help.

The extent of the problem of abuse against men is poorly defined. Statistics Canada has historically charted alarming levels of domestic violence against men and women, far outstripping the number of charges Winnipeg police lay in such incidents. Stats Can records six per cent of men surveyed in domestic relationships experienced violence in the last five years. In Winnipeg, those numbers would involve more than 8,000 men. Winnipeg police statistics record 14 per cent of domestic violence cases, or 304 charges, involved men as victims in 2008. Those numbers, however, rarely break into the light of day.

It took decades of activism to change societal perceptions, including those of the police and courts, of domestic violence from a private affair that happened behind closed door, between married people, to a complex social scourge that requires social solutions.

Domestic violence, in fact, is a pernicious crime that threatens lives and indelibly marks the development of children, setting in motion a tenacious cycle of abuse that visits upon future generations. That activism is only beginning to address perceptions about men as victims of domestic violence, whether in same-sex or heterosexual relationships.

Defining the size of the problem is a critical first step. To that end, the Men's Resource Centre is working with Osborne House, a shelter for women, to begin tracking the number and nature of calls they receive from men who ask for help. Changing attitudes to dispel the stigma men battle will take time, probably decades. The first step is admitting there is a problem -- something that would come as a surprise to many people who cling to antiquated views of roles in relationships. That discussion must start in the public forum, with the kind of advertising campaign that helped put wife abuse in the public consciousness.

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6 Commentscomment icon

Gerdy, Gerdy, Gerdy your attitude is the same as most gender feminists who by and large just do not like men. Intimate Partner Violence is pretty much equal between genders but men are socialized to "suck it up" rather than report it. Only about 10% of men report the abuse to the police. Judges, many police services, the DV Industry, welfare amongst others all line up to provide assistance to the female even if the allegations are false, which happens frequently to get a "leg up" in custody.

In Ontario $208,000,000.00 per year is allotted specifically for women's issues - not one cent for men's issues. This blatant gender discrimination has to stop. Over 3,000 men in Canada commit suicide per year. If a conservative estimate of 400 is given to Family Law (FLAW) cases that is an epidemic greater than SARS back in 2003 but one which gets no attention and is ongoing. Things have to change.

All victims (including men) deserve sympathy and support. Research shows with absolute consistency that women are at least as abusive as men in relationships. And, even though research also shows that children are just as harmed when mom assaults dad as when dad assaults mom, Gerdy sums up the attitude of most police, judges, etc. (If you are an abused man, "I suggest you leave the province.") Leaving one's children behind (especially since abusive women are likely to be abusive moms) is just one of many reasons why Gerdy's philosophy is pathetically insufficient.

Gerdy's comments show just how ignorant and out of touch some women can be in such relationships. Just where are these battered men supposed to go. Whats stopping the abusive wife from hunting them down and abusing these men again. These women dont respect restraining orders and the police. Society should protect these men.....Society should allow mens only clubs so battered men can share their stories of suffering with their fellow men. Teasers strip club would be a perfect meeting centre where abused men could gather without fear of abusive wives entering.

I have to say that I agree with article. I know of at least two men who actually called the police only to be threatened with being charged with assault because the police didn't seem to believe that they could be being abused by a woman.

Still no phone # for these men to call??????
There are many forms of abuse against men, by there spouses. A lot of cases, the man is hit big time with unreasonable maintenance payments. As a result, his life is ruined. When once he lived in a fairly nice home and ate steak once in a while, he is now in a grubby rooming house, living on hot dogs. "He" even had to give up his car. His job is starting to mean nothing to him, because "she" gets most of his hard earned money. "She" is living the high life, not only by herself, but with her "new love", who is probably supporting her as well, and/or enjoying the benefits she receives from her ex. It costs a lot of money to prove his rights and "allegations" in court. Furthermore, there are far too many Good men (fathers) that have committed suicide because of the unreasonable demands of the ex and the courts. I also think it is totally unfair that "he" cannot claim support payments on his income tax. This has to change!! In one case that I know of, some "women's support groups" totally misled "her". As a result, "she" was taking him to court over the least little thing,and more lies, costing both of them thousands of dollars and lasting 3 years. Long story, but thank God, the judge saw right through her "scam", and now, she's eating the hot dogs!!, and he's eating the steak!! Because he served as his own counsel and she paid the lawyers!!

Does anybody take this issue seriously? I noticed that the staff writer didn't even want to be associated with the topic. Who is the lobby behind this movement? This is the second such op-ed calling for a men's shelter and more govt. moneys allocated to this supposed need. Most assault charges of female domestic violence are countercharges made by men who also have been charged with assault, thanks to our zero tolerance policy. As for those few men who are being physically or psychologically abused and need someplace to hide, I suggest you leave the province.

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