That’s what it said across the back of my dress shirt. I showed up early, dressed up nice with my suit jacket and tie. I had many discussions with local politicians and groups of young men. Most of the discussions started with the question "What if your girlfriend or wife hits you and you want her to stop doing it, What do you do?"
The Member of Parliament avoided a question about equal rights protections in the charter of rights. The mayor told me that the rates of domestic violence against men are very small, I educated him. Most men were very receptive to the conversation and there was general agreement from personal experience that women can be agressive and violent. I got a lot of the usual answers; "talk about it", "get counselling", "walk away", "just leave". There didn’t seem to be any real answers for "what if you’re married and have kids, do you just leave them and live on the street? None of the men really knew of anywhere that they could go to for help to stop the abusive behavior.
It wasn’t all that wonderful of an experience though. While speaking with the Brock University Male Nurses I was quickly interrupted by one of them..they already learned all about domestic violence and they don’t want to hear anything I have to tell them. I had handouts if anybody wanted, of course, with Statistics Canada Data and quotes from the NFVLRC.org. I left them alone and continued amongst the crowd.
The Brock University Male Nurses then took turns following and questioning me and telling me that nobody wants me there and that I’m gonna get kicked out. I told them that we were in the Penn Centre Shopping Mall and they couldn’t get me kicked out for talking to people about domestic violence. We talked nicely about the subject, the Brock University Male Nurses said "if a woman hits a man then it’s probably his fault", "99% of statistics don’t mean anything", very intelligent stuff like that. I was told many times that it wasn’t appropriate for me to talk about male victims of domestic violence at an event for women. I told them that I was concerned about all victims of domestic violence and I was just expressing my thoughts.
Then everybody sat down for speechs and I took off my jacket. I had written in large thick black letters all over my white shirt. "MEN ARE VICTIMS TOO", "STOP GENDER PROFILING" , "ANOTHER FORGOTTEN VICTIM", "WALK 1000 MILES IN HIS SHOES".
I became an attention magnet since I was standing in view at the side of the audience, everybody was staring. After the speeches, I went on along with all of the high-heeled men, wearing my own comfortable men’s shoes. Everybody was staring at me, but people didn’t talk to me much, other than more of "it’s not appropriate". A few ladies wanted to take my picture and offered some understanding and compassion. I offered my encouragement that men and women can find solidarity as victims and in raising awareness and stopping Family Violence. It doesn’t have to be a gender war!
It’s a good start to Domestic Violence awareness month and I’ll be back again next year 😉
Nobody deserves to live with Domestic Violence, including Men!
There is a significant enough body of evidence to make three things patently clear:
1. Domestic violence is not a product of gender, attributing it to gender is not only misleading, it actually hinders efforts to address the problem.
2. Society is misinformed about the nature, origins and realities of domestic violence.
3. Most of our legal and politically handling of domestic violence is based on the myths and not the realities, leaving us to put all resources into only half of the problem.
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
Statistics Canada reports that "Almost equal proportions of men and women (7% and 8% respectively) had been the victims of intimate partner physical and psychological abuse (18% and 19% respectively). These findings were consistent with several earlier studies which reported equal rates of abuse by women and men in intimate relationships"
NATIONAL FAMILY VIOLENCE LEGISLATIVE RESOURCE CENTER
Policy Statement on Family Violence
“Reports from the WHO (Archer, 2006) also make it clear than in many countries around the world, particularly where women have little political or socioeconomic power, women represent the much larger share of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) victims. However, the most reliable population of surveys indicate that in Western industrialized democracies such as the United States and Canada, where they enjoy higher status, women engage in physical aggression at rates comparable to men (Archer, 2000; Fiebert, 2004; Straus & Gelles, 1990) and are as likely or more likely to be the initiators (DeMaris, 1992; Morse, 1995; Dutton et al., 1999; Straus, 1993; Williams & Frieze, 2005).”
“Shernock’s (2005) analysis of over 2000 IPV incidents in Vermont revealed that men were categorized as perpetrators 3.2 times more often than women on the initial police report, but subsequently arrested 9 times as often. At issue is the extent to which this pattern of gender bias reflects flawed “dominant aggressor” guidelines and assumptions about IPV based on discredited sociopolitical theories of patriarchy”
“Victimized males do not have access to services because of the assumption that they are only minimally impacted by IPV, if at all. This assumption, however, runs contrary to an overwhelming body of research evidence. A significant minority of IPV-related physical injuries, between 25% and 43%, are incurred by men (Archer, 2000; Laroch, in preparation; Mirrlees-Black, 1999; Straus, 2004; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000), and men are the victims in nearly a quarter of intimate homicides (Rennison, 2003)”
The Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento ruled that California’s
exclusion of men from domestic violence services violates men’s constitutional equal protection rights in a decision in October. The taxpayer lawsuit — Woods. v. Shewry — was initially filed in 2005 by four male victims of domestic violence.