RECENT NEWS ARTICLES

This page contains a selection of recent news articles and commentary about male victims of violence and abuse plus related issues. These articles are presented as a community service, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the One in Three Campaign.

Please send any relevant news articles to us by clicking here and we will post them on this page.

Saturday
Jul102010

The World Cup Abuse Nightmare (UK/USA)

Myths about domestic violence not only libel the vast majority of men; they also put truly at-risk women at greater risk.

Do brutal attacks on women by their husbands or boyfriends surge during the World Cup? According to a May 25 press release by England’s Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), “cases of domestic abuse increase by nearly 30% on England match days.” The shocking 30 percent figure was from a study prepared and publicized by the British Home Office. Determined to stem the assaults, officials flooded pubs and the airwaves with graphic warnings. “Don’t let the World Cup leave its mark on you,” warned a poster distributed by the West Yorkshire Police. It showed the bare back of a cowering woman marked by bruises, cuts, and the imprint of a man’s shoe. News stories with titles such as “Women’s World Cup Abuse Nightmare” informed women that the games could uncover, “for the first time, a darker side to their partner.”

Many Americans will recall a similar scare surrounding Super Bowl Sunday in January 1993. Newspapers and television networks reported that the incidence of domestic violence increased by 40 percent during the annual football classic. Journalists were soon talking of a “day of dread” and referring to the game as the “abuse bowl.” Experts held forth on how male viewers, intoxicated and pumped up with testosterone, could “explode like mad linemen, leaving girlfriends, wives, and children beaten.” During its telecast, NBC ran a public-service announcement urging men to remain calm during the game and reminding them they could go to jail if they attacked their wives.

In that roiling sea of media credulity, Ken Ringle, a reporter at the Washington Post, did something no other reporter thought to do: He checked the facts. He quickly discovered that there was no evidence linking football and domestic violence. The source for the 40 percent factoid was a mistaken remark by an activist at a press conference in Pasadena, Calif. Today, what has come to be known as the Super Bull Sunday hoax, is a staple in discussions of urban legends. Could the World Cup Abuse Nightmare be a copycat fraud?

“A stunt based on misleading figures,” is the verdict of BBC legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg and producer Wesley Stephenson. They recently investigated the alleged link between the televised World Cup games and violence in the home for their weekly program Law in Action. On June 22 — day twelve of the 2010 World Cup — they aired the story. It included an interview with a prominent Cambridge University statistician, Sheila Bird, whom they had asked to review the Home Office study and its finding of a 30 percent increase in domestic abuse. She found it to be so amateurish and riddled with flaws that it could not be taken seriously. The 30 percent claim was based on a cherry-picked sample of police districts; it failed to correct for seasonal differences and essentially ignored match days that showed little or no increase in domestic violence. Professor Bird also noted that improved police practices can lead to increased reports of violence but do not necessarily indicate more violence. A telltale sign that something is amiss in the Home Office is that it also disseminates the claim that “one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence.” That impossibly high figure may be the result of a rather expansive definition of “domestic violence” — which includes not only physical and sexual violence but also emotional and “financial” abuse.

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Thursday
Jul082010

Shot dad Lenny Comollatti tells of horror shooting at Gracemere

All the photographs Lenny Comollatti had of his baby Anthony were lost in the vehicle his former wife crashed on Tuesday night.

Jade Quilligan, 22, is believed to have fatally shot the eight-month-old boy and wounded Mr Comollatti before fleeing a home in Gracemere, 11km southwest of Rockhampton, in a ute.

Speaking exclusively with The Courier-Mail from his bed at Rockhampton Base Hospital, Mr Comollatti said he was reeling from the double tragedy.

“Everybody’s talking about it too much already,” he said.

“I’m just trying to get over it myself.”

Mr Comollatti, who was shot in the stomach, was yesterday awaiting surgery.

Mr Comollatti, 33, said the day of the shooting was the first time he had seen baby Anthony in quite a while.

He said the only photos he had of his son were taken when he was around four months old, but they were in the ute that Quilligan crashed into a tree after the shooting.

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Sunday
Jul042010

Forgotten victims of home abuse

Canberra Times (Australia), July 4, 2010

Intimate partner abuse betrays the trust within relationships and can destroy families. The simple fact is that violence is never acceptable, but for decades governments and service providers have focused exclusively on protecting women and children.

Men, however, remained the silent victims of domestic violence.

According to the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey, a third of assaults in the home were perpetrated by women on a male victim.

The recently launched One in Three Campaign aims to raise awareness not only of the needs of male victims of family violence and abuse, but of the fact that they exist at all.

Men's Advisory Network executive officer Gary Bryant said the issue of intimate partner abuse against men was not widely recognised by the community or support services.

Mr Bryant stressed he was not seeking to divert funding from support for female abuse victims, but said there was also a significant number of male victims without access to vital support and counselling services.

“Men have traditionally been seen only as the perpetrators of domestic violence,” he said.

“There is very little recognition that they can also be abused.

“Partly that has been because men are reluctant to admit they have been abused. “They might feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help.” Those who did ask for help faced further barriers, Mr Bryant said.

“Police and hospital emergency services do not expect to see abused men and do not know how to identify or deal with these kinds of cases,” he said. “It is completely off their radar.” Edith Cowan University's recent Intimate Partner Abuse of Men Report found men would find it easier to seek help and disclose abuse if there was greater public acknowledgment that men could also be abuse victims and appropriate services were offered to them.

“One of the biggest problems is for men to recognise domestic violence,” a service provider said in the report. “To try and see themselves as victims is very difficult it is really kind of feminising. “The way that we generally conceptualise domestic violence it is all about men hitting women.” The report says services to victims of domestic violence are skewed towards this gender- biased perception of female victims and male perpetrators.

The One in Three Campaign, based on the report, argues established social and cultural stereotypes about masculinity and violence also reinforced the view that men could not be victims of abuse.

“A lot of it is the pride factor and the cultural issues of, you know, that that just doesn't happen to men,” a service provider said.

“I think that it is an Australian stereotype where we are supposed to be all strong and silent.” The report found evidence this stereotype was also in operation in government, health and welfare services designed for victims of domestic violence.

“Some of those gender biases might have operated within the field in ways that have prevented the development of services for male victims or of family violence services that are designed to serve both male and female victims,” the report said.

A similar range of services should be provided to men as were currently supplied to women, including counselling and support services, gender-sensitive services specifically for men, accommodation services, help lines and crisis response, community education and prevention programs and specialist family violence services.

In the ACT, all funding for domestic violence services comes under the auspices of Minister for Women Joy Burch and is part of the ACT Women's Plan: “That the ACT provides strategies to break the cycle of violence against women and their children and to instil an anti-violence message”.

A spokesman for Ms Burch said these services included Australia's only men's sexual assault service the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre's Service Assisting Male Survivors of Sexual Assault. But the program's executive officer, Veronica Wensing, said the service was almost exclusively used by men who were sexually assaulted as children.

Other services for male victims of intimate partner abuse included the Canberra Men's Centre, the Canberra Fathers’ and Children's Service and the Domestic Violence Crisis Service.

In 2008-09, 8 per cent of people accessing the service were male victims of violence, while 2 per cent were men who used violence. The other 90 per cent of clients were women and children.

Ms Burch's spokesman quoted the statistic that women were three times more likely to be victims of intimate partner abuse, but then disputed the same statistic when used by the One in Three Campaign.

“The recent One in Three Campaign, attesting that one in three victims of domestic violence are men, does not make it clear where this figure has been derived from and it overestimates men's victimisation compared to our most reliable population surveys,” he said.

“The intimate partner violence that women experience is more likely to be part of a pattern of coercion and control and to cause fear, injury and death.” When Ms Burch announced increased funding for domestic violence services in the 2010 ACT budget, men were implicitly excluded through the language used.

“We know that the level of sexual assault and family violence against women is significantly under-reported,”she said.

“However, the Government's coordinated Family Violence Intervention Program and Sexual Assault Reform Program have provided increased confidence to women victims of violence.” The One in Three Campaign says, ironically, advertising campaigns and government programs such as these designed to prevent violence against women have reinforced entrenched views about male perpetrators and female victims in the community and service providers. “Regrettably, while well- intentioned, many past efforts to reduce family violence against women have inadvertently used incorrect or misleading statistics which unfairly stigmatise men and boys as violent and abusive, while simultaneously denying or downplaying the existence of male victims of violence,” the campaign's website says.

“For decades well-meaning governments and NGOs have presented the myth to the public that family violence is only something that men do to women. This message has prevented the development of more comprehensive policies, programs, services, campaigns and funding to cater for male as well as female victims of family violence and abuse.” The One in Three Campaign wants state and Federal governments to include all victims and perpetrators.

For help contact Samaritan House: Single men (62476691); Minosa House: Single men over 18 (61633701); Mary's Place: Single men (62991619); CANFaCS: Men with children (61234000).

YWCA Families Experiencing Accommodation Transition in Tuggeranong (FEATT): 62918333 YWCA Family Housing Outreach Service northside (FHOS): 62426211 Saint Vincent de Paul's Family Services: 62087330 Service Assisting Male Survivors of Sexual Assault (SAMSSA): 62627377 or 24-hour Hotline, 62472525.

Provided By: Financial Times Limited - Asia Africa Intelligence Wire Index Terms: General News ; Society & Social Affairs ; Statistics Record Number: WCTS79861961 Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday
Jun232010

Concerns regarding the SA Government's management of their domestic violence campaign

The following speech was made by the Hon Stephen Wade MLC in the South Australian Legislative Council on 23rd June 2010.

DON’T CROSS THE LINE WEBSITE

The Hon. S.G. WADE (15:59): I want to speak today about my concerns regarding the government’s management of the domestic violence campaign. Our society is becoming increasingly intolerant of violence—including domestic violence—against women. Like a number of members of this chamber, I am a White Ribbon ambassador, a movement of men to urge men to speak out against violence against women. A White Ribbon survey found that 98 per cent of Australian people today say that domestic violence is a crime, compared with 93 per cent in 1995.

I am sure members throughout the chamber would share my concern regarding anything that would undermine progress and allow anyone to diminish the importance of dealing with violence, including violence against women. It is in that context that I express my deep concern about the government’s management of the Don’t Cross the Line campaign website.

In September last year, the state government launched the Don’t Cross the Line campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence. In the same month, Men’s Health Australia wrote to the Office for Women expressing concern at what it perceived as a selective use of statistics which it considers overstates the impact of domestic violence on women and understates the impact of domestic violence on men. I asked a question of the Minister for the Status of Women on Men’s Health Australia’s concerns in October and, in response, she said:

I acknowledge that there is research and data from a wide range of different sources and there can be different interpretations of such data. However, I am advised that the data on the Don’t Cross the Line website is sound.

We did not hear anything from the government until yesterday, when the Minister for the Status of Women made a ministerial statement in which she admitted that the Office for Women has been found by the Office of Crime Statistics and Research to have distributed misleading information. Further, the minister advised that the Ombudsman is investigating similar concerns about the website. She indicated that it would be inappropriate for her to comment while the Ombudsman’s investigation is underway.

I am concerned that the minister’s statement is not clear. When she says the OCSAR report was sought—and I quote—‘following concerns by some individuals’, was she referring to Men’s Health Australia only or to other complaints as well? Does the Ombudsman’s investigation relate to the Men’s Health Australia concerns? What is the scope of the Ombudsman’s investigation? Considering that she does not think it appropriate to comment while the investigation is underway, what matters are within the scope, such that it would be inappropriate for her to comment?

I am concerned that the government often tries to use investigations as shields against accountability. We have seen it in relation to Burnside council. Of course, it would be inappropriate for the minister to pre-empt the findings of the investigator. However, the minister is still responsible to this house and should be accountable for the costs and time lines, especially in terms of what she is doing to make sure that voters have the facts they need.

Likewise, in relation to the Don’t Cross the Line campaign, it is inevitable that the OCSAR report and the Ombudsman’s investigation will increase the scrutiny of the government’s management of the program. I assure the council that the opposition will not be deterred from pursuing the important matter of the promotion of safety for women against domestic violence because the government may choose to use an investigation as a shield against accountability.

Also, I am concerned that this incident raises an overarching concern about the level of public ethics under this government. From base level public servants to the Premier, the Rann Labor government needs to lift its performance in communicating with the public. We need to make sure that we raise the standards so the public can be completely confident that when they are getting public information they are getting reliable information. It is very worrying that the effectiveness of important public information initiatives—such as the domestic violence campaign—could be undermined by the distribution of misleading information.

The public expects government information to maintain the highest standards of truthfulness and accuracy and, often in campaigns such as this, public health and safety depends on it. I have no doubt about the sincerity and the depth of minister Gago’s commitment to eradicate domestic violence. I call on her to do whatever she can within the government to repair the damage done to the campaign and urge her to that end to maintain full and frank communication with this council and with the public.

Wednesday
Jun232010

Minister admits misleading public on domestic violence

The Minister for the Status of Women, Hon Gail Gago MLC, yesterday admitted in a Ministerial Statement that statistics on the Don’t Cross the Line respectful relationships website were incorrect and had been removed.

The incorrect and misleading material was brought to the attention of the Minister by leading men’s health organisation Men’s Health Australia and is still under investigation by the SA Ombudsman.

Spokesman Greg Andresen said, “We are pleased that the Minister now acknowledges that her campaign misled the public and the media for nine months about the reality of relationship abuse in Australia. However, her claim that the errors have been rectified couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“The original errors have been replaced by a page of statistics about violence against women. As the Minister notes, the underlying aim of the campaign is to educate young men and women about respectful relationships and about the difference between acceptable and abusive behaviour. To equate abusive relationship behaviour with violence against women is simply mind-boggling.”

“Firstly, at least one in three victims of family violence and abuse are male. Why has the minister deliberately misled the public in an attempt to deny that one third of victims – men and their children – exist? Secondly, most violence against women takes place outside of relationships – in the workplace, on the street, at the pub, etc. Why is the minister inflating statistics on relationship abuse by including these types of violence on the website?”

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