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.

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Stopping the Violence… and the traffic in Alice Springs

Earlier today I witnessed the most powerful and (hopefully) effective public event I’ve yet seen in my short stay in Alice Springs.

Alice Springs is a town where men – particularly Aboriginal men – rarely make mass public statements that address the issue of greatest concern to most people living in Alice Springs – domestic and inter-personal violence. But thanks to the concerted efforts of a determined group of men that is changing.

The “Stop The Violence” march held today saw several hundred men and boys march through the centre of Alice Springs to join a large group of women and supporters to rally at the Alice Springs Town Council lawns. The march stopped the traffic in town and hopefully lifted just a little of the malaise and downheartedness that often seems to be the dominant sentiment in this troubled town.

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Darren Hayes from Santa Teresa community at the front of the march


Ombudsman finds domestic violence campaign 'misleading'

A national men's group is claiming victory over what it calls a feminist agenda on domestic violence. An independent investigation has upheld the group's complaint about a public awareness campaign in South Australia. The Ombudsman's inquiry found parts of the $870,000 campaign contained errors.

The Don't Cross The Line campaign has been running in newspapers, on television and radio and on a website. The Ombudsman in South Australia found some statistics initially published on the site were false and misleading.

Advocacy group Men's Health Australia made a complaint against the Office of the Status of Women over 10 matters on the website. The Ombudsman's final report substantiates seven of them and another two in part. The Government had said one in 17 women was a victim of domestic violence annually, but the figure related to violence generally.

Michael Woods is one of the men's group's supporters and is from the Men's Health Information and Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. "It is a shame that a government department is unable, despite being notified a year ago, to address its own shortcomings and it required this sort of action," he said. "The ideological commitment of people in that department must be so strong that they would reject scientific data in favour of their own biases."

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html#ixzz0n5xrz7qv Listen to longer story on ABC Radio's The World Today program (MP3)

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Grief-stricken dad asks: 'How can you not get life?'

An evil mum who drugged and murdered her two sons should have been jailed for life, the boys' father says.

Donna Fitchett, 51, yesterday was jailed for 27 years, with a minimum of 18 years, for the "chilling, callous murders" of Thomas, 11, and Matthew, 9.

"How can you not get life for taking two innocent lives, under any circumstance?" ex-husband David Fitchett pleaded to the Herald Sun.

Earlier, outside court, a grief-stricken Mr Fitchett choked back tears as he said: "My boys. I love them, I miss them." Fitchett has already served five years, meaning she could be released as early as 2023.

Prosecutors had wanted her jailed for life, which would have made her the only woman in Victoria serving a life term.

In 2008, Fitchett was sentenced to a hospital security order of 24 years, with a non-parole period of 18 years, for the murders. She successfully appealed, and faced a retrial.

"Having been through the ordeal twice, and seeking what I thought was justice for my boys after the first one (trial), going through the appeal process has been an absolute nightmare and a horrendous time in my life," Mr Fitchett said outside court.

"Thomas and Matthew deserve justice. Life by two was the only thing that would satisfy me." Fitchett drugged then strangled or smothered her boys at their Balwyn North home on September 6, 2005.

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Beliefs on violence 

Letter to the editor, Adelaide Advertiser, 1st September 2010:

Your article "Domestic abuse shame" (The Advertiser, 20/8) claimed that "the poor attitude of Australian men to violence against women is evidenced by a 2006 Victorian survey which found one in 20 believed women who were raped often 'ask for it'." This survey actually found that 6 per cent (about one in 20) people (not men) agreed with the statement "Women who are raped often ask for it". So, yes, there are still a few people who hold unacceptable beliefs about sexual violence against women.

However, there are far more who hold unacceptable beliefs about violence against men. The National Crime Prevention survey found that young people are more likely to say a woman is right to, or has good reason to, respond to a situation by hitting, than a man in the same situation.

Overall, for situations where men might hit their female partners, 49 per cent of young people said that he would be right to, or have a good reason to hit her, in at least one of the situations presented. In situations where women might hit their male partners, 68 per cent of young people said that she would be right to, or have a good reason to, hit him in at least one of the situations presented.

And while males hitting females was seen, by virtually all young people surveyed, to be unacceptable, it appeared to be quite acceptable for a girl to hit a boy (25 per cent of young people agreed with the statement "When girl hits a guy, it's really not a big deal").

The Advertiser, however, failed to publish the following letter to the editor:

Miles Kemp's article "'One in three' domestic abuse victims" (20/8) contained the following errors of fact:

1. "'One in three' domestic abuse victims / One in three women at risk" The correct statistic is just less than one in six (16.8% of) women have experienced violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15. This is HALF the rate reported by Mr O'Connell. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (2006) Personal Safety Survey Australia, p16. The article also contained the following unnecessarily gender-biased statistic:

2. "A quarter of Australian children had witnessed violence against their mother." The correct statistic is 23.4 per cent of young people have witnessed physical domestic violence against their mothers/stepmothers and 22.1 per cent have witnessed physical domestic violence against their fathers/stepfathers. Source: National Crime Prevention (2001). Young people and domestic violence, pages 96-7.

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Judges 'treat violent women differently' (NZ)

A woman's eight-year jail term for murdering her partner reflects the judiciary's lack of understanding towards male victims of domestic violence, a men's rights spokesman says.

Hastings GP Viv Roberts was commenting on Monday's sentencing of Jacqueline Wihongi, 33, in the High Court at Napier.

The mother of six stabbed her partner of 17 years, Vivian Hirini, in the chest with a kitchen knife in June last year.

In sentencing, Justice John Wild said Wihongi had a tragic "history of victimhood" and it would have been "manifestly unjust" to have given her life imprisonment.

The couple had a violent relationship and frequently assaulted each other. Mr Hirini had been stabbed previously by Wihongi and had lost an eye when she hit him with a bottle. The court was shown a ringbinder containing about 500 pages of police reports on domestic callouts involving the couple.

Women's Refuge spokeswoman Kiri Hannifin praised the judge for considering the "appalling violence" Wihongi had suffered.

But Dr Roberts said this was "clearly a case where there has been a lot of violence both ways", which the system had failed to address.

"Men are frequently the victims in domestic violence and, even when they end up dead, the perpetrator of the violence is treated differently if they happen to be female.

"Mr Hirini is not available to tell his side of the story but, if he were, the story he would tell may well paint a different picture to that painted by Ms Wihongi's defence team."

A 2006 report by the Dunedin Multi-Disciplinary Health and Development Study (The Dunedin Study) said there was "a tendency to discount the harm attributed to violence carried out by women ... but the argument of the relative benignity of female violence does not match our data on distress, nor our informal data on severity".

Dr Roberts said police figures on reported incidents were not an accurate picture of the perpetrators as studies had shown men victims reported less than 5 per cent of violence and women about 30 per cent.

A quote from American author Patricia Pearson's book When She Was Bad: How and Why Women Get Away with Murder best summed up his thoughts. "She wrote, 'the denial of women's aggression profoundly undermines our attempt as a culture to understand violence, to trace its causes and quell them'.

"I believe that is the number one reason that a couple like this can have 500 pages of incidents with the police and the violence continues to escalate to the point where someone ends up dead.

"The responsibility for this lack of understanding lies primarily with the judiciary and the law makers, and to me this sentence reflects that lack of understanding," Dr Roberts said.

Wellington police family violence intervention co-ordinator Detective Sergeant Penny Gifford says "it's certainly not unusual" for her unit to deal with male victims of domestic violence.

In the past week the unit had received 30 new files, of which four were male victims of female perpetrators. This might be a little higher than normal, she said.

"We certainly don't treat male victims any differently and it frustrates me when we are accused of that ... We arrest regardless of gender."

The male victims were either partners or the fathers of female perpetrators. "There are not the number of support agencies available to men that there are for women. This is something we would love for someone to take the lead on. It would provide an option for males who wanted to talk to someone, if they did not want to come to police."

At present, men have to find short-term accommodation in hotels or motels. There is no male equivalent to a women's refuge.

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