Male DV victims
A study from Australia
This just a link to an Australian / New Zealand study on 47 abused men by a woman who was herself abused. The study is a qualitive (not quantative) one; this is about describing the abuse not collecting statistics. I repeat some quotations of some of the more pertinent parts as they relate to men's inequality before the law below. The study itself is here
In the Sarantakos study (1998) there were a few cases when men tried to escape from abuse, taking their children with them, but the courts managed to apprehend the kidnapper and to 'return the children safely to their loving mother' (p.14).
Several men believed that their partner's provocation was an attempt to cause them to retaliate physically. ...
Ted: She'd walk past me in the house and spit at me, obviously hoping that I
would do something so she could call the police.
Ian: Each time she took out an AVO, when we got to the court house she’d say she missed me terribly and wanted me back, so the case would be dropped. And each time I’d be silly enough to go back to her. She had me on the end of a
Sometimes a woman would try to persuade others that she was the victim.
Anthony: She then went to the kitchen and opened the window and she started
screaming as though she was being attacked. The window was only a
couple of metres from our neighbours’ window. I went out into the yard
and she still kept up the screaming. The neighbours saw me outside and
realised what she was up to.
Geof: She started punching me violently. As I moved away one of the punches
landed in the door frame and she broke her hand. She told everyone I had
attacked her with a cricket bat.
A lot of the way I feel is tied up with the treatment I received in court and by
the police. I was brought up to respect authority so when the authorities
turned against me, I felt there was nothing left. The magistrate said ‘It’s not
the first time he’s done it; it’s just the first time we’ve caught him’. I walked
into that court knowing I was a good person. I treated my wife with the
utmost respect. But after that magistrate said that, I felt I was just an
Alan: I thought of my options. Lock her out of the house as she did to me? The
cops would come and take me away. Complain of domestic violence? She
was too pretty and dainty for that to work. Leave? I could not abandon
my kids. I would rather have died, and thought of it. Fight back?
Somehow I couldn't see myself doing it. I don't know if it was cowardice,
chivalry or intellect saying 'lay a finger on her even once and all hell will
break loose'. Murder her but make it look accidental? Its appeal did grow,
The man's feeling of powerlessness was an underlying reason for his failure to report the matter or to leave the relationship. Vogel suggests that a man may come to believe what an abusive women says to him: 'you're crazy and stupid; no one will believe you; the police will never arrest me' (1996 p.21). Women are ten times more likely to report domestic violence against themselves to the police than men are (LFAA 1998 p.3).
Several participants said that when they tried to report their abuse to the police, they were disbelieved, scorned, or had every obstacle placed in their way. Typical police responses were: 'What sort of a wimp are you to let a woman hit you?'; 'Run away and stop wasting our time'; 'You must have done something terrible to her to deserve this'; 'Look at the size of you! Maybe she was just defending herself'.
Whereas a woman can obtain an Apprehended Violence Order almost immediately and without any requirement of proof, the police view in many cases is that a man should be able to cope with the kind of abuse a woman might engage in. In most cases the police are required to arrest someone if they believe domestic abuse has been committed. There is often little effort made to find out who was the aggressor. 'Even if the man has a split lip and the wife is drunk and out of control, the man is likely to be placed in gaol' (Cose 1995 p.209).
Steve: The Chamber Magistrate said to me, 'You're supposed to be the stronger one -to be able to take strong hits. If you go ahead with this, they'll laugh you out of court'. Even if you've got a blood nose and bruises, if you're a man, they say you have to have more proof to get an AVO.
Michael: The next thing I knew there were two police officers at the door. They saw the lump on my head, the black eye, and the bleeding and I told them what had happened. They said my wife had made a complaint that I had assaulted her, so they handcuffed me and put me in a paddywagon. At the station the police said there was 'a high degree of probability' that I would assault my wife again!
Kevin: I made two attempts to report her assaults to the police and they didn’t want to know. One officer said to me, ‘For your sake and for ours we might as well not drag this into court. The magistrate won’t believe that a woman is capable of something like that’.
Jim: She would violently attack my 5 year-old son. Once she had him pinned to the floor, with her body weight on top of him. I would often try to separate him from her, but eventually I became afraid for his safety and I reported the matter. She then took out a restraining order against me, claiming I had threatened her with a gun. From that time onwards, neither the police nor the courts would listen to anything I tried to tell them about the danger my son was in.
Regardless of the degree of abuse sustained by a husband, courts will nearly always award custody of children to the wife (Cook 1997 p.62). Only one in six men who apply for custody of their children eventually gains it. The Family Court in Australia normally elevates the mother to the role of primary parent. The father is seen as the 'disposable' parent (Green 1998 p.xi).
When a woman is violent in a relationship, the court will not necessarily assume that she is a bad mother. If a man is seeking custody of his children due to his wife's violence towards him and them, he is usually advised by his legal representative not to mention the violence, or the judge may conclude that the man is a 'wimp' and therefore an unfit parent (Cose 1995 p.217).
After a Court hearing which lasted ten days, the judge found that my ex-
wife herself had molested my daughter in an effort to generate evidence
against me. Despite this,she was still allowed custody. And the Court
and the child welfare agency refused to take any action against her
I looked up the Yellow Pages. The voice answering the phone at the Rape Crisis Centre said, 'Only women are abused'.