The Queensland premier decided to change the language of her position on domestic violence. She previously only mentioned female victims. After meeting with a male victim, she decided to amend that position:
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has admitted she “changed her language” around domestic violence after hearing of the men it impacted.
Ms Palaszczuk, who has led a government-wide response to domestic violence issues after receiving the ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ report commissioned by the previous administration, said violence against men did need to be recognised while speaking with a male domestic violence survivor at the Bundaberg community cabinet event.
“I do understand that there are a number of men have gone through or are going through [domestic violence],” she said.
“I actually did change my language when it did become public because it was brought to my attention that there was some serious issues surrounding some men in our community needing help as well
“I do think that is something we do need to address a bit more.”
Australia needs to do much more. The country does a terrible job with addressing physical and sexual violence against males. Organizations like One in Three, which raise awareness about the prevalence of domestic violence against men, face opposition because many of the existing service providers do no recognize male victims and do not want to change their narrative. For the opposition, domestic violence is something men do to women, and any evidence to the contrary is unwelcome. For example:
Karyn Walsh, the CEO of Micah Projects which runs the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service, said there was no problem in acknowledging male victims of violence, as long as the issue of domestic violence was approached as a gendered one.
“It’s important to acknowledge any human being that experiences violence but we need to make sure our response to domestic violence maintains a gendered focus,” she said.
“We have to be allowed to talk about that this is a gendered issue and acknowledge that men may be victims but not lose [sight of the fact] that the overwhelming issue is the attitude men have to women as their possessions, as something they can control and punish. It is about their attitude.”
Walsh said it was important the issue was approached as a gendered one so resources and programs could be properly allocated.
“The severity and extent and volume of women experiencing violence needs to always be maintained [as fact], no problem acknowledging that men may be victims but in overall scheme of things it is women who are impacted.”
Walsh said in many cases of violence against men in a relationship by a woman, the woman was acting in self defence.
Walsh was not alone in warning the premier to keep the discussion of male victims to a minimum:
Moo Baulch, CEO of Domestic Violence NSW, said male victims of domestic violence needed to be recognised in the context that the overwhelming number of victims were women and the overwhelming number of perpetrators were men.
“I can kind of understand where she’s coming from, in LGBTQI relationships gay men experience domestic violence at really similar rates,” she said.
“I think there’s a really strong men’s rights lobby in this area and I certainly know we get substantial attacks through media and social media, there’s a really strong lobby that would like us to believe women and men experience domestic violence at equal rates and we just know that that’s not true.”
Baulch said there was a resistance to recognising the gendered nature of domestic violence as it becomes less taboo to talk about.
“It challenges people’s perceptions of Australia and our idea of everyone having a fair go, we know that that’s just not the case, look at other things such as women on boards, pay gap, it’s clear we’re not living in a society that equally values men and women,” she said.
The irony is the premier never stated she would acknowledge male victims, focus on their concerns, or create services for them. She only stated, “I do understand that there are a number of men have gone through or are going through [domestic violence]. I actually did change my language when it did become public because it was brought to my attention that there was some serious issues surrounding some men in our community needing help as well. I do think that is something we do need to address a bit more.”
Yet this prompted the above reactions that inexplicably attack male victims and minimize their experiences. It may be the case that more women are victims of domestic violence than men. If there are more female than male victims, what purpose does it serve to smack down abused men? How does it help women by saying we should treat domestic violence as a gendered issue? How does mentioning male victims and helping them in any way stop people from helping women?
This is what happens when ideology gets into the support community. This attitude has nothing to do with helping women or preventing domestic violence. This is about pushing a specific, largely anti-male political agenda using domestic violence as strawman and red herring. That does not mean that people like Walsh and Baulch do not genuinely care about abused women. It does mean that playing politics is more important to them than actually preventing violence.
It would not surprise me if Walsh and Baulch do not know and have never met a male victim of domestic violence. That tends to be the situation with most people hostile to this issue. They do not know what male victims suffer and they do not have to deal with them directly, so it is easier to write them off.
Maybe Walsh and Baulsh should meet some men who experienced abuse and learn what those men suffered. That may make them rethink the notion that women abuse in self-defense.