When asked to service male victims, domestic violence support team pulls plug

The problems male victims face when it comes to getting services and assistance are staggering. Many groups and some government officials are trying very hard to get male victims access to the services they need. Often times this involves requiring existing domestic violence groups, most of whom receive public funding, to grant access to male victims. Some of those groups do. Many complain and refuse to. However, it is quite rare to see a group close down because they were required to provide service to male victims:

ABUSED and battered women brave enough to front Gosford Court could do so without help after the Central Coast domestic violence intervention response team handed back its State Government funding.

The dramatic decision followed orders from the Community Services Department for the team to care for male victims of domestic violence at its women’s “safe room” at the courthouse.

The order shocked long-time domestic violence volunteers Pat Gaunt and Kaye Spicer.

The intervention response team has workers at Brisbane Water command police stations who contact victims as soon as possible to guide them through the court process.

The service has successfully operated under the auspices of the domestic violence court assistance scheme for five years.

But after “constant interference” by the department, the management committee unanimously voted to hand back responsibility and funding.

“We are not prepared to compromise the integrity of our service by operating under the onerous and inappropriate conditions being imposed by the department,” Ms Spicer said.

“In fact, our constitution doesn’t allow us to work with male victims,” Ms Gaunt said.

“We have told the director-general we have to relinquish the funding because we cannot work with males and the constant interference by the department also has a lot to do with it,” Ms Spicer said.

“I really don’t know what it means for the service.”

Ms Gaunt said men were not neglected by the service, but referred to other agencies.

“Our workers are not trained to work with men – some days we have more than 25 women in our safe room at Gosford.

“Can you imagine how traumatised they would be to put a male in there? It is bureaucracy gone totally insane.”

Just to be clear, this group decided to back out of helping domestic violence victims because it was requested that they also provide services to male victims. Nothing in what was asked suggested that the male victims must be treated in the same room as female victims. Unsurprisingly, neither Gaunt or Spicer bothered to consider how traumatizing it would be for abused men to be around a bunch of women who probably remind them of their abusive wives and girlfriends. The concern is for women.

Certainly a group that only treats women would not no where to begin when treating male victims. The group would also have to bring in males for the men who do not feel comfortable speaking with a female provider. However, it is astonishing that rather than try to help the men who need help, the service would back out of the deal. Both Gaunt and Spicer mention department interference, but they never get into any specifics. The only specifics are about how it is unfair that they be required to help male victims. As is typical, there is the claim that the group refers men to other services, and as is typical, those services are never mentioned.

The blatancy of the misandry at play is amazing, not because it is unexpected, but because the group is essentially trying to blame male victims for the group pulling its services. Instead of using this as an opportunity to show that domestic violence groups are actually concerned with preventing violence rather than the political pull it gives them, this group tries to defend a sexist position.

Many feminists will claim that DV groups actually try to help male victims. Well, here is an example of a group that was asked by the government to help male victims and would have received the funding to do so and decided that helping male victims “compromise[s] the integrity of our service by operating under the onerous and inappropriate conditions being imposed by the department.”

5 thoughts on “When asked to service male victims, domestic violence support team pulls plug

  1. TS – larger article by the Shared Parenting Council of Australia here

    It never ceases to amaze me how the likes of Gaunt and Spicer are so oblivious to their own sexism. They probably both view themselves as standard bearers for equality.

  2. The rationale for refusing to provide assistance to male victims demonstrates what is really at play. The article you linked to states “The move has been criticised by domestic violence experts who say it is unsafe for the group to help both genders” but do experts are quoted in the article.

    Spicer’s comments are particularly disturbing:

    The department’s agreed funding $180,000 a year until 2012 would have doubled staff for the crucial service. DVIRT currently had the means to contact 40 percent of victims and the extra funding would have meant most victims were reached. It is extremely disappointing.

    Studies show that men in general experience domestic violence in quite a different way to women.

    To tack a men’s service on to an existing service developed for women would be unfair to men and do more harm than good.

    The scheme’s staff did not undertake gender-neutral training and male victims were not neglected, but referred to suitable agencies.

    Our safe room at court can contain more than 30 women… and would not be an appropriate place for male victims to be supported

    She provides no reason whatsoever why providing services for men would do more harm than good. The extra funding would have allowed DVIRT to bring in more staff, some of whom could have had experience working with male victims. At no point does it sound like the group was being forced to put men in the same room with women. It sounds as if they were only being asked to provide the same support for male victims that they do for female victims and rather than do so, Gaunt and Spicer decided to blame male victims instead.

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