Male Victims of Domestic Abuse: Action, Please

In this post I make two requests: (i) that you to write to your MP regarding the creation of a Government “Violence Against Men and Boys” strategy, and, (ii) if you are a man aged 50 or over and a victim of domestic abuse that you respond to a survey. Skip forward to the advice on those actions if you wish.

In 2021 the UK Government published their revised “Tackling violence against women and girls strategy”. These days they know that they will face widespread criticisms regarding the position of men and boys. In an obvious attempt to head this off, whilst making no difference to anything of substance, the UK Government has just published the preposterously titled, “Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls“. I wish that what lies behind this was merely preposterous. But it’s worse: it’s deeply pernicious.

The latter document states,

The term ‘violence against women and girls’ refers to acts of violence or
abuse that we know disproportionately affect women and girls. These crimes
include – and are not limited to – rape, sexual violence, domestic abuse,
stalking, ‘honour’-based abuse including forced marriage, ‘revenge porn’, and
the harms associated with sex work and prostitution.

Indeed they are not limited to that. The 2019 CPS VAWG report includes under the VAWG umbrella, (a) child abuse, and, (b) modern slavery and human trafficking. The report itself shows that substantially more men and boys are the victims of modern slavery and human trafficking than are women and girls. Also, child abuse affects more boys than girls, though the CPS report does not reveal that fact. (Ditto, child exploitation).

So, if being the majority of victims is the defining issue, clearly we need a new category, “VAMB”, Violence Against Men and Boys, into which child abuse, child exploitation, modern slavery and human trafficking should be transferred as they are currently incorrectly placed in VAWG by the Government’s own definition.

In the Foreword to the Government’s revised “Tackling violence against women and girls strategy”, the Minister for Safeguarding, Victoria Atkins, writes,

We are half the population. We are daughters, sisters, friends, colleagues and partners. Our safety, security and prosperity are everyone’s business. And yet in the 21st century, there are still crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls. This must stop.

Oh, really? Let me make the logical corollary of that sentiment clear, “all crimes should disproportionately affect men and boys”. Since one sex or the other must be in the majority, and “crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls must stop” that is what the Minister for Safeguarding is insisting upon. Lovely, eh? She should be pleased, anyway, because for all violence it is already true.

(This is the same Minister, by the way, who misled Parliament in July 2019 by claiming that the majority of perpetrators of domestic abuse against men were other men – a claim which is wildly incorrect and known to be so.)

The Home Secretary, in her Foreword, writes,

I didn’t feel safe. In fact, I was terrified. I carried on walking – I had no choice – but I picked up the pace and clutched my keys in my fist.”

I, too, am frightened. But not by easily avoidable thugs but by these two women, and virtually the entirety of our political class, who wield inescapable power over all of us and are doing so from a position of extreme bigotry. Yes, that’s what this is – prejudice.

It is the most obvious fraud to claim that “VAWG” is legitimised by the majority of victims. If that were so we could label every crime in the UK as “Crimes Against White People” – I trust that makes the prejudice emphatically clear. Moreover, neither women nor girls are the majority victims of crimes of violence unless, as is done in VAWG, attention is restricted to “intimate”, or home-based, violence. So, if being the majority of victims was truly the issue, all crimes of violence – including those involving female victims, would be classed as VAMB, Violence Against Men and Boys.

All this is obnoxious as it attempts to hide away minorities.

But, in reality, VAWG is not motivated by what they claim. It is not motivated by women and girls being the majority victims of intimate violence. It is motivated by sex prejudice.

Consequently, it will not do to have violence against men and boys addressed under the VAWG umbrella because that is to institutionalise prejudice. An example of how this works in practice is provided by the recent Government document “Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls“. It recommends as “best practice” the use of the Respect Male Victims Toolkit. This protocol majors on “screening” male complainants and openly being suspicious they may be abusers masquerading as victims.

Needless to say, the ethos throughout VAWG is to believe women complainants. In short, by allowing a prejudiced axis to control the process, what we get is “believe women, disbelieve men”. This is not hypothetical; surveys of male victims confirm that they experience a very high level of disbelief. Knowing they will not be believed, men often do not even seek help. This is the situation that needs to be overcome, and it is an essential step in doing so that male victimisation is taken out of VAWG.

To put it succinctly, VAWG is a strategy for exerting power and control over male victims: VAWG is itself a methodology for facilitating domestic abuse.

Northern Ireland

In case you were wondering, the campaign in Northern Ireland for a strategy for men and boys continues, as explained in #BAMS4NI.

Survey for Male Victims aged 50 and over

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales is current running a research project into older men as victims of abuse. Whilst the blurb refers to Wales, I’m told by the organisers that any man in the UK aged 50 and over who has been a victim of abuse can contribute. They are keen to get more candidates. They write this,

“You can speak to us over the phone or by video call, which will take around 60 minutes. You can choose to speak to a male or female researcher – whatever you are most comfortable with. In appreciation of your time, we are offering a £30 e-voucher to participants.”

To find out more, contact Opinion Research Services on 07917 658 160 or email opcw_research@ors.org.uk

Letter to MP

Gender Parity UK has provided a template letter you could use or adapt: here. You can find MP’s contact details here.

My own letter is below – feel free to copy or modify (you will need to remove the last para). Mine sent 10/4/22.

Dear (MP name),

I am one of your constituents.

I am writing to ask you to support whenever possible a Violence against Men and Boys (VAMB) strategy.

This is to complement the Government’s recently published updated Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy.

Under the current strategy, male victims are treated as victims of Violence Against Women and Girls. The document published last month ‘Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls’ is as preposterous as its title.

Details

The claim that “VAWG” is legitimised because women and girls are the majority of victims of the types of crime in question is a rationalisation, not the true reason.

If being the “majority of victims” was a legitimate means of separating out categories of crime it could be used to hide away minority victims across any and all crimes – clearly not a way to go.

The Victims’ Commissioner is in agreement with the need for a separate strategy for men and boys. In her 2020/21 annual report, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Vera Baird, stated that “The Home Office needs to offer a separate strategy for developing the rights and support services for men and boys who are victims of interpersonal violence of a physical or sexual nature”. The Victims’ Commissioner reiterated this position in September 2021, stating that “It may be that the scale of men and boys’ victimisation is not currently being fully considered”.

As a practical example of how classifying domestic abuse of men under VAWG leads to pernicious outcomes, the document ‘Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls’ recommends the use of the Respect Male Victims Toolkit. This protocol majors on “screening” male complainants and openly being suspicious that they may be abusers masquerading as victims. Needless to say, this is not an approach of which anyone would approve in the context of female victims.

Indeed, it was established by the EHRC Welsh Office in 2017 that any service offering support to victims of both sexes and deploying such a screening procedure for men only would “constitute direct discrimination” under the 2010 Equalities Act.

This is one example, but the generic issue is that addressing male victims must be taken out of a strategy which reclassifies them as victims of Violence Against Women and Girls. This makes no sense and has only come about because of the strength of the lobbying in this area.

As a volunteer and former trustee of a charity which is a specialist provider of support to male victims of domestic abuse I am very well acquainted with the reality of male victimisation, despite continuing public incredulity. It is an issue that few men take seriously – until it happens to them.

*******

Reply received from my MP 20/4/22,

Dear Mr ****,

Thank you for contacting me asking my support for a strategy for Violence Against Men and Boys.

I have always been clear that protecting and supporting all victims of violence and domestic abuse, regardless of gender, is of the utmost importance. It is for this reason that I welcomed the landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021, which includes a new definition of domestic abuse in recognition that around one third of domestic abuse victims are male.

I understand that the term ‘VAWG’ is used to refer to acts of violence or abuse that we know disproportionately, but not exclusively, affect women and girls. As such, both the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and the Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan set out the Government’s ambition to reduce the prevalence of all VAWG crimes, regardless of who they affect, and to support all victims/survivors, including men and boys.

I am sure you will also welcome the fact that, alongside the Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan, the Government has published a refreshed Supporting Male Victims document in recognition of the specific challenges which may be faced by men and boys who are victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse. This plan includes commitments to continue to involve diverse national men’s groups in stakeholder engagement on issues related to VAWG, utilise evidence from across Government on male experiences of VAWG crimes to inform relevant future Government policies, and provide a further £1.4 million in 2023-23 to the Male Rape Fund.

Furthermore, I am encouraged that to inform the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, the Home Office actively promoted a public survey to men and boys, including through media such as LADbible Group. The Home Office also held a dedicated men and boys focus group with sector stakeholders, and organisations specifically supporting men and boys helped distribute the victim survey to ensure male victims’ perspectives were gathered. I understand that the Government has taken the feedback from the Call for Evidence into account and recognises the challenges which can be faced by men and boys.

In addition, the Government has made clear that the use of this term cannot and should not negate the experiences of, or provisions for, male victims. Nevertheless, I would be happy to pass on your concerns to my colleagues in the Home Office.

Thank you for raising this subject with me.

Kind regards,

Redacted
on behalf of

Redacted

21 thoughts on “Male Victims of Domestic Abuse: Action, Please

  1. Philip Griffiths

    Thanks. I have written to my MP.
    While appreciating the pessimism contained in some other comments I still think we should write.
    Just collating the responses or lack of them could be useful ammunition in the future.

    Reply
  2. John

    Hi. Just wanted to alert you to blockage of your site by Sky Broadband Shield. It says your site is blocked because it contains “Weapons, Violence, Gore and Hate”. I was able to get onto it yesterday but not today, hence using my phone for this. I suspect the site has been reported by some extremist who does not like their lies being challenged. I am going to try reporting the categorisation as incorrect and will let you know how I get on!

    Reply
    1. William Collins Post author

      OK, thanks. Yes I was alerted to Sky’s block yesterday, though others seem to have found ways around it. It happens periodically with various platforms. It’s shadow-banning essentially.

      Reply
  3. AJ

    I read just a few paragraphs of ‘Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls’ and the ‘Respect Male Victims Toolkit.’ despite this it was profoundly disturbing.

    ‘Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls’
    starts by stating it will give an overview of the prevalence and scale of male victims of VAWG crimes. The following paragraph is this:

    ‘Boys and children
    The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 stipulates that a child who sees, hears, or experiences the effects of domestic abuse, and is related to the person being abused or the person perpetrating the abuse, is also regarded as a victim7 of domestic abuse for the purposes of the Act.8 Boys can therefore be victims of domestic abuse in their own right …’

    This is profoundly dishonest and misleading in intent. It implies that boys can only be victims of domestic because they may be victimised by being witnesses t it. It ignores that boys may be victims of domestic violence in their own right by being subject to it and in fact are more likely than girls to be so affected. It never says that boys may actually be victims of violence rather than be witnesses too it. I may be cynical but the choice of this misleading paragraph as the first category of male victimhood seems calculated to minimise the victimhood of men and boys. The document continue sin teh same vein. Its depressing in that some effort and calculation must have gone into drafting this in order to mislead without actually saying anything that is false. That effort is a measure of the prejudice and discrimination that needs to be overcome.

    The respect guideline is worse it is quite overtly politically sexist in a way no guidance for support or care should be. As an example:

    ‘It also recognises the damaging effects that traditional gender roles have on men and boys, that the
    expectations on how they should behave encourage dangerous behaviours and shames men and boys into hiding their emotions.’
    Is there any evidence of that? Is it supported by anything more than feminist ideology?

    However what can you expect from something called ‘‘Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls’”. Its clear from the title that the authors know the essential dishonesty in the VAWG policy and are striving to support and maintain that.

    Reply
    1. William Collins Post author

      Yes, I spotted that point too – and was depressed yet again by the document. I opted not to do a detailed critique – I’ve done that sort of thing so many times before. The campaign is the issue – to get men and boys out from under the dead hand of VAWG. With Vera Baird backing it and with the SNP having it as a manifesto commitment, the time has never been more auspicious.

      Reply
  4. michael

    Regarding the fact that crimes against men are allegedly committed by other men . . . Even if that were true . . . The identity of the assailant does not define the value of the victim. Hence, it’s irrelevant whether or not the assailant is male or female. The level of concern for the victims of violence and misfortune should never be defined by whether or not one can weaponize their victimhood against an “othered” group external of their own demographic. This same rule of thumb is also true of black on black crime.

    Reply
    1. Greg Allan

      “Regarding the fact that crimes against men are allegedly committed by other men”

      When the victims are male you must find ways of blaming them. These assertions are always designed to deflect attention away from boys and men as victims.

      “Males as agents of violence were visible and gendered. As victims they were effaced from the discourse.”
      – Adam Jones, Effacing the Male.

      Australian male victims of sexual abuse experienced decades of exclusion from government funded services. That exclusion was based on their own sex. Victims of female perps were just as excluded as victims of male perps.

      Reply
  5. Labour_is_bunk

    If you read their stuff, the Sally Army are another organisation who seem to ignore this issue. If they’ve ever published anything that implicates women as domestic abusers, then I’ll be glad to be proved wrong.

    Reply
    1. Tim

      Thank you for bringing the Sally Army to my attention. I notice their domestic abuse leaflet is not gendered, but other material is. In March I successfully encouraged the Church of England to include a helpline for male DA victims on it’s national safeguarding notice. Back in Jan I achieved some changes to it’s DA training course, making it somewhat more supportive of male victims. I have recently had some success with the Methodists in one of their districts, with a very gendered DA poster replaced with a notice listing DA helplines covering all victims. I am currently looking at the Church of Scotland, which has overly gendered DA material.

      Reply
  6. Nigel

    Vera Baird is the victims commissioner who is apparently in support of a VAB&M strategy. She was someone who as a barrister used the “battered woman” syndrome to get a women off a conviction for murder of her husband . As an MP and Solicitor General in the labour government of early this century supported the development of the VAWG Strategy and changes in rules of evidence for sexual crimes. Subsequently Police and Crime Commissioner in the north east again she supported the Police focus on VAWG and as far as I’m aware never did anything to support Male victims.
    I certainly hope she has changed. I would appreciate any feedback about why Vera Baird appears to have changed her view in her new role. Is it a response to evidence? Is it clever politicking? Is there a catch?

    Reply
    1. William Collins Post author

      Good question. As far as we have been able to discern she was getting really pissed-off with “us menz” constantly making submissions to Consultations on DV and muddying the nice clean women-only waters that she wanted. It seems she regards giving us our own space as preferable to being plagued by us. In short – a win. Or am I fooling myself? It’s not 100% clear.

      Reply
      1. Greg Allan

        “It seems she regards giving us our own space as preferable to being plagued by us.”

        Once upon a time we called it “apartheid”.

        “Or am I fooling myself?”

        Very likely. It gives ideologues the opportunity to fund separately. Expect boys and men to see crumbs, if that.

        Reply
        1. William Collins Post author

          Some informed people, on “our side”, are not convinced that a separate men & boys policy is the right strategy. I think it is.

          Reply
          1. Groan

            I’m inclined to agree. Thus far the most obvious success of the VAWG strategy is that it consistently guides any debate towards the “women’s sector” . And effectively redebders men and boys as “female” and mere footnote. I’d be unsurprised if the first iteration of a men and boys Strategy didn’t set out with it being all the “fault” of masculinity in some way. In much the sane way as suicide and mental distress in males is often presented as the result of masculine stoicism. However in mental health there is at least some focus on men and boys and it has shifted policy to at least try to shift. Though it proved abortive Cameron’s policy of extending GP surgery hours to ease access for men is an example of mens needs finally getting an airing. I have no doubt feminists will attempt the same trick with this. But it is a chink in their armour. Their no platforming and effectively burying boys and mens issues has worked like a dream for two decades. A VABM strategy starts to open things up. But still those supporting men will have to work hard to take this chink to a crack to a split.

          2. AJ

            I don’t thin it is the right strategy because it encourages the polarisation and perceived conflict between the interests of men and women. The issue is that whenever the interests of men and women are perceived to conflict then the decision will be made to favour women. We need to reframe the issue as to what is the best for society as a whole and that men and women will both benefit by addressing issues and unfairness that affects men. Creating a men and boys policy in competition to women’s policies will simply further increase the disparity in the support given to women /girls and men/boys while creating the appearance of equivalence. When it comes to conflict between children’s interests and women’s interests then in practice women’s interests take precedence as can be seen in the family courts. What chance then do men’s interests have in perceived conflict with women’s?

            How that’s achieved I don’t know, politics which ostensibly supports women and attacks men even when base don obvious falsehoods ARE popular due to inherent cognitive biases.

          3. R

            Hi
            I’m not so sure that a separate strategy espoused by Baird is a good idea.
            The reason being is not only to shut us up, but to separate funding for the strategy and then diminish it( cut it) on the grounds of women being the “overall majority of victims”. e.g. paint women as victims and men as perpetrators.

            Baird has been on a power trip for some time now, and she would never do something on the basis of principles. Just because she is a former barrister, it doesn’t make her unbiased( look at starmer for example).

            I stand by the idea that the strategy should be for persons not gender and focus on the act of Domestic Violence rather than any number of diverse characteristics people have. Otherwise, it will continue into the power trip the DV industry has become in order to give themselves lucrative employment for many, many years on the backs off other people’s suffering.

  7. Goan

    I have contacted my labour MP. I have to say much to my surprise I have recieved a positive if non committal reply. I do suspect the inclusion of the fact that the victims commissioner supports a VAB&M may have helped in getting at least a read of the content of my e-mail. Little is lost in sending an email and a little may be gained in the mp or his staff clock there is some interest in this issue.

    Reply
    1. Greg Allan

      You’ll need to persist. My experience over decades is the powers that be will nod their heads in apparent agreement but revert to business as usual the moment you look away.

      Reply
  8. Sean

    I regret that I cannot bring myself to contact my (Labour) Member of Parliament about this important matter. Nor any other. He is the most obnoxious person I know.
    He would not actually read any letter I sent anyway. His customary practice is to pass all correspondence to one of three proxies he employs, and charges to his expenses. In addition, especially in a matter of such sensitivity, the attitude of my MP and his minions would inevitably be both dismissive and deeply scornful.

    Reply
    1. William Collins Post author

      Mine’s Tory but I’ve yet to receive a reply from him on any subject. This is why I stress the “culture first” rather than “politics first” approach. MPs just reflect the prevailing culture.

      Reply
      1. Groan

        An interesting point. Having worked in local government and the NHS over 30 years it is very clear that elected people and most ,”officials” have very little knowledge or grasp of detail. Specially on the “culture wars” issues. In consequence they are frequently entirely ignorant of even their own organisations data.
        The “Stonewall” debacle is a good example of what happens. Something becomes a political “issue” , there is a rush to “do something” and a clever organisation steps in with guidance, breifings and “schemes” and these are signed up to with little attention to the actual content. Which as we now know included both illegal and unlawful guidance.
        Much the same happened with sexual assaults and rape where the police concealing evidence from the courts and CPS conniving in this was why Alison Saunders left under a cloud (though it was in fact Starmers policy) . And of course more and more cases are showing public and private companies are putting into practice both illegal and unlawful procedures in recruitment and advancement.
        My point being that VAWG is the same in that statuary bodies simply copy the lines from the lobbying organisations in order to be “doing something”.
        The hopeful thing about this is that getting key people to actually read and think can make a significant difference. Certainly I had surprising success in my organisations by being able to intervene in this way,to alter the policy /procedure.
        Hopefully the same can happen in the Westminster Village.

        Reply

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