- AUSTRALIA SAYS NO!
THE ONE IN THREE CAMPAIGN
One in Three is a diverse group of male and female professionals – academics, researchers, social workers, psychologists, counsellors and trainers. The Campaign aims to raise public awareness of the existence and needs of male victims of family violence and abuse; to work with government and non-government services alike to provide assistance to male victims; and to reduce the incidence and impacts of family violence on Australian men, women and children.
WHAT IS FAMILY VIOLENCE?
Family violence and abuse is a serious and deeply entrenched problem in Australia. It has significant impacts upon the lives of men, women and children. It knows no boundaries of gender, geography, socio-economic status, age, ability, sexual preference, culture, race or religion. Domestic violence between partners, boyfriends and girlfriends (also known as intimate partner violence or IPV); violence between other family members (siblings, parents, children, aunts, uncles, and grandparents); most elder abuse, child abuse and sexual abuse are all different forms of family violence. Thankfully reducing family violence against women and children has been firmly on the agendas of government for many years. Now is the time to move to the next, more sophisticated stage of tackling the problem: recognising men as victims as well.
AT LEAST ONE IN THREE VICTIMS IS MALE
Contrary to common beliefs, up to One in Three victims of sexual assault and at least One in Three victims of family violence and abuse is male1 (perhaps as many as one in two - see our overview of research page). The vast majority of perpetrators of intimate partner violence against males are female, reflecting the fact that the vast majority of intimate relationships are heterosexual (men in same-sex relationships are just as likely as straight men to experience IPV). Other family members who perpetrate violence against males are just as likely to be male as female.
KEY FACTS AND STATS
- At least one in three victims of family violence is male
- More than one male per week is a victim of domestic homicide
- Almost one in four young people are aware of their mum/stepmum hitting their dad/stepdad
- Male and female victims of reported domestic assault receive very similar numbers and types of injuries
- Males are almost three times less likely to report being a victim of domestic violence to the police
- Post-separation, similar proportions of men and women report experiencing physical violence including threats by their former spouse
- More facts and stats here.
MALE VICTIMS LACK SUPPORT
While many services have quite rightly been established over the past four decades to support female victims of family violence, the needs of male victims remain largely unmet. Historically government policies have been based on the assumption that the vast majority of perpetrators are male and the vast majority of victims are female, and the policies of current governments are still based on this erroneous position. Indeed, regretfully, the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children did not include male victims in their otherwise laudable March 2009 recommendations which have been enthusiastically supported by the federal government and the Council of Australian Governments. Now is the time for action by politicians and community leaders to recognise that a comprehensive approach is required to combat the scourge of family violence.
REDUCING FAMILY VIOLENCE
Family violence and abuse can never be excused or justified, however, in order to reduce the levels of violence in the family, we must seek to understand the causes and contexts that give rise to it. We need to address the complexities of violence. All victims need compassionate and highly responsive support, and all perpetrators need services to help them stop their use of violence and abuse. Dysfunctional relationships in which both parties use violence need to be supported to change, as it is these environments which are clearly the most harmful to children.
MALE VICTIMS OF FAMILY VIOLENCE FACE GAP IN SERVICES AND NEED SPECIAL CONSIDERATION: NSW GOVERNMENT REPORT
The NSW Government Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues has released their report on domestic violence trends and issues in NSW: the first ever to acknowledge the existence, needs, barriers to reporting and barriers to accessing support faced by male victims of family violence. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 100,000 men in NSW have experienced violence from their partner.
Greg Andresen, Senior Researcher for the One in Three Campaign said, “This courageous report heralds a new era of gender equity by the NSW Government by finally acknowledging the forgotten one-third of victims of family violence: men and boys.”
The findings of the report include:
- “There was a broad recognition among inquiry participants that women offenders and male victims do exist” (p.218). “Of [reported] victims of domestic assault in 2010, 69.2% were female, while 30.8% were male.” (p.28)
- “Male victims have been much less visible and able to access supports than should be the case” (p.xxiv)
- “The experience of [males]... is equally as bad as that of other victims” (p.xxxii)
- Recognising “the gap in services for male victims and [encouraging] the government to examine how services can most appropriately be provided to male victims of domestic violence” (p.xxxii)
- Identifying males as “in need of special consideration with regard to domestic violence,” along with Aboriginal people, older people, people with disability, and several other population groups (p.89)
Mr Andresen said, “We are especially pleased the Committee has recommended that the entire system for preventing and responding to family violence needs to take account of, and be effective for, all victims and perpetrators: not just women and children victims and male perpetrators as has been the case up until now.”
“The Committee has also advised the Government that legislation and policy should be written in gender neutral terms – something we have been advocating for some time. They have also strongly recommended that male victims and female perpetrators be addressed in the Government’s forthcoming Domestic and Family Violence Framework.”
“Until now, the Government’s entire specific support for male victims and their children has been a single page on their domestic violence website. Men have been unable to access the Government’s Start Safely and Staying Home Leaving Violence programs. They have been denied access to safe rooms and legal assistance at court as well as emergency accommodation for themselves and their children. They have also been absent from the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Children.”
“We look forward to seeing the Report’s recommendations implemented by the NSW Government, and to working with them to ensure that each element of the criminal justice system, as well as the range of support services, is sensitive to the needs of all victims of family violence” said Mr Andresen.
The One in Three Campaign's submission to the Inquiry can be found here (PDF). The Campaign appeared before the Inquiry on 20th February 2012. You can read the transcript here (please refer to pages 16-24), and our Questions Taken on Notice, Supplementary Questions and Additional Information here.
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1 Much international research demonstrates that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. For a bibliography examining 275 scholarly investigations with an aggregate sample size exceeding 365,000 see http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm
* 'Fryingpan' photograph supplied by Men's Rights Agency