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Monday
Sep092013

Men also victims (The Courier, Ballarat)

When most people think about family violence and abuse victims, they think of women and children. However, one in three victims of sexual assault - and at least the same figure for victims of family violence and abuse - are males.

In an effort to highlight the forgotten victims of family violence - men - the One In Three campaign was established several years ago. And one Ballarat man, himself a victim of spousal abuse, has made it his mission to heighten awareness about the issue and the national campaign.

The Ballarat man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had been in a happy relationship for more than 10 years, but things changed when he discovered his partner was having an affair and had hidden bank accounts containing an estimated $200,000. The father of two - one being a stepchild - said his partner had a hidden life, even from her own parents. "This is when the abuse really started, not only towards me, but also I discovered she had been abusing my stepchild for several years," the Ballarat man said.

"My abuse was emotional and mental, but my stepchild suffered severe emotional and physical abuse at the hands of (name suppressed) mother." After years of going through the court system to fight for custody of his children and fighting against false allegations made by his former partner, the Ballarat man finally has full custody of his stepchild. ' (At the time of the abuse) I feared for not only my stepchild's safety, but also the safety of my younger child. My stepchild is now safe with me, but I fear for (his own child)."

The Ballarat father said for a man to admit to being the victim of family violence seemed, at first, "unmanly", but after joining One in Three he realised he wasn't the only one suffering. The One In Three campaign aims to raise awareness of the existence and needs of male victims of family violence and abuse. Members of the campaign include a diverse group of male and female professionals like academics, researchers, social workers, psychologists, counsellors and trainers. Campaign members work with government and non-government services to provide assistance to male victims and to reduce the incidence and impacts of family violence on men, women and children.

Because of barriers such as feeling shame and embarrassment, the social stigma of not being able to protect themselves, One in Three believes men are much less likely to report being a victim of family violence than women. Abuse of men, says One in Three, takes many of the same forms as it does against women, including physical violence, intimidation and threats, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal and financial abuse, property damage and social isolation.

According to One in Three, there are few tailored services and resources available for male victims of family violence and abuse. Services that are available include:

  • Police - 000
  • Lifeline-131 114
  • Mensline Australia - 1300 789 978.

People can learn more about One in Three by going to www.oneinthree.com.au.

The Courier's It's Up To Us campaign, which has the support of the White Ribbon Foundation and local and national welfare agencies, is helping to highlight the many issues around family violence. During the campaign, which culminates in White Ribbon Day on November 25, readers can go online to pledge an oath to stop violence against women. To make that oath go to www.thecourier.com.au. [How will pledging an oath to stop violence against women help abused men? Ed.]

KIM QUINLAN

You can download a PDF version of the article here.

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