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Announcer: Until midnight on 6PR, Graham Mabury.

Graham Mabury: Sometime ago in fact, I think it was back in 2008 we chatted to our next guest about a research program that was just getting underway. Research into intimate partner abuse of men, and we were looking for, knowing how challenging it would be to find them, but looking for people who would participate in this research finding. To get some idea of the extent to which it happened and to learn as much about it as could be learned.

The person we spoke to was the Executive Officer of the Men’s Advisory Network, Gary Bryant. And he is back online because the work has been done, the findings are in, and the launch of those findings coming up next week. Gary Bryant, welcome back to Nightline. Good evening.

Gary Bryant: Yes, thank you very much for having me Graham.

Graham Mabury: Now I think one thing we’ve got to clear up, just knowing people as I do, something I want to clear up at the outset and we did exactly this when we spoke to you last. The research was never meant to be in some - was never meant to be about denying that overwhelmingly where violence occurs, men are violent to women. And it was not in any sense against women.

Gary Bryant: No, that’s absolutely right. No, we as an organisation, Men’s Advisory Network, certainly recognise that men are the perpetrators of domestic violence. There’s also the sort of mutual violence, you know. Did he start it? Did she start it? They’re both stuck into each other. But there is also a percentage of men who are the, let’s call them the “passive victims”, they didn’t instigate it. They didn’t retaliate or whatever. They are the ones who are the genuine victims.

Graham Mabury: Probably - I just wanted to do that at the outset because I actually happen to think one of the key bodies that can give the message to men, generally, that violence is never OK is a group like yourself who represent them as a peak body. 

Gary Bryant: Absolutely, yes. I mean, our whole thing, and we’ve put in submissions to government and they’re on our website now, is to say no to all forms of abuse and violence.

Graham Mabury: Very interestingly... well we’ll come to the fact... I’m jumping ahead of myself. Let’s stay at ground zero for a moment and just remind everybody what was the aim of the research? What were the terms of reference for this research project?

Gary Bryant: Well, I guess going back to behind that, what man was wanting to achieve or is still wanting to achieve is support services for men who are victims because they’re not recognised and there are there no support services. Now this piece of research was to look at the nature of the abuse of male victims. It’s a qualitative piece of research, so it’s looking at the nature of the abuse, why don’t men come forward and declare that they are victims? What are the sorts of things that services could do to help men come forward? It’s those sort of things - it’s not aimed at measuring, you know, the quantity. How many of men, what percentage of men or anything like that. It didn’t look at that at all.

Graham Mabury: It’s interesting that you didn’t but as I understand it the National Men’s Health Policy that came out in the budget quoted some Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety information, now it’s from back in 2005, but 10 percent, nearly 11, 10.8 percent of men had been victims of violence in the previous year. And 5.8 percent of women.

Gary Bryant: Yeah that of course is violence across the board and a big part of the male violence is probably young men against other young men where there’s alcohol, drugs, and things like that. However, in that same piece of research, they asked a whole lot of questions about general violence but also about domestic violence. And they asked questions like, you know, “Have you experienced it in the last 12 months? Have you experienced it since you were 15?” and things like that. And I don’t have the stats right in front of me but the responses to the different questions and there were about five or six of them varied between about 22 and about 30 percent of the victims were male. So it’s a minority but it’s a pretty large one.

Graham Mabury: The report is to be launched next week, what is its title?

Gary Bryant: Well, it’s the Intimate Partner Abuse of Men.

Graham Mabury: OK, and what... as you say quantity it wasn’t about, it was qualitative research?

Gary Bryant: That’s right, trying to find out the nature of the abuse that men suffer and, you know, why they do or do not disclose it, come forward seeking help, and what the service providers could do to help the men.

Graham Mabury: Research done by Edith Cowan University academics and we’re told that it kind of turns the traditional scenario on its head a bit. Tell us more about that.

Gary Bryant: Well just from the point of view of, at the moment, I mean, particularly in terms of government policy and the whole establishment of services, they’re all based on male perpetrators and female victims. Whereas, you know, what this has found is that the experiences of men are very similar to - the male victims - is very similar to the female victims. In that it’s often multiple forms of abuse not just one. It often starts relatively small but escalates over time and so on. And they also did come up with one area - so all of those are - and it’s not just violence. There can be emotional, psychological. It can be social isolation. It can be financial. There’s a whole range of different things that it can be and men... women experience those things and so do men. And the one that they came up with which is not anywhere in the literature up ‘til now, is what they call “legal administrative abuse”, which is where the person uses legitimate legal and administrative processes to abuse the other person. And I mean, fabricating reports to gain Violence Restraining Orders would be one. Denying fathers access to their children would be another form of abuse.

Graham Mabury: Over 18 of months now, Edith Cowan University researchers have interviewed male victims, their families, and services providers, and 81 percent of the service providers in the area report having dealt with a male victim, female abuser scenario within the previous year. And many of them say, “but we’re not set up to help men.”

Gary Bryant: Well there’s nobody who’s out there who is - I mean, there are now some specialist counselling support services for men across the board, relationships, you know, it can be anger management. It can be depression, you know, whatever the issues happen to be. So there are those sort of services, but none of them are specifically promoting themselves to say, “Guys if you are a victim, you’re not the only one. It’s OK to come and seek support and we are here to help you.” There is just nothing like that at all. 

Graham Mabury: I happen to know of a case where a professional person, many years ago this is. But a professional person suffered significant abuse to his motor vehicle. I mean, really, literally demolition type of abuse and had reasonable grounds to suspect that the real target was himself. I believe he was in the vehicle at the time. I’m being vague because obviously I’m trying to - even though it was years ago I still want to be as protective of everyone’s identity as I can. But one of the things that they said in speaking to me was, “If I were to tell, even some of my most trusted friends or colleagues that I was being abused, they wouldn’t believe me.”

Gary Bryant: Yeah and that’s what this research has found. I mean, women also - I mean, the percentage of women that will go to the police or disclose that they’re being abused is a small percentage of what is really happening out there. 

Graham Mabury: Yeah, that’s true. 

Gary Bryant: One of the reasons why they don’t do that. Now men have the same reasons as the women for not wanting to come forward, but then there’s added reasons. There’s the whole, you know, shame and humiliation is much greater. The fact that they’re not likely to be believed and in fact they may well be accused of being the perpetrator and, you know, the woman was only retaliating. And the fact that, well there’s no support services for them anyway so why, you know, where do they go and why would they want to go?

Graham Mabury: I guess treating - in many cases - I mean, right back when we were doing some work in loneliness triggered by the radio program and some of the people who were contacting it, we discovered that men fundamentally relate in a different pattern. Many of them relate just fundamentally differently to other men then the way women relate to women. I imagine that, and I know you’ve got Dr Elizabeth Celi who is the Director of the Australian Psychological Society, who’s a bit of an expert in this. She points out that in fact there are quite specific ways of treating male victims and indeed treating female abusers.

Gary Bryant: Yes and I’m afraid I’m not on that sort of clinical side of things so I couldn’t comment on what they are but it’s quite clear that yeah men have...

Graham Mabury: But you can comment on the fact that they’re not there?

Gary Bryant: Beg your pardon?

Graham Mabury: I say you can comment on the fact that those services are not provided at the moment?

Gary Bryant: No, yeah the services are not there but I mean, in terms of, you know, she is dealing with male victims and so she’s been able to from her - and female victims, she’s been from that clinical work, been able to, you know, look at these sort of differences. But I mean, men often don’t even recognise – I suppose if it’s physical violence they’re going to recognise that they’re being abused, but when it’s perhaps more the psychological, emotional, or they’re being cutoff from their family and friends and things like that, they just think – 

Graham Mabury: That’s life.

Gary Bryant: “Well I’ve got a very good relationship and isn’t that par for the course with a lot of relationships.” And just don’t recognise it as being abuse. Some of the men in this study said exactly that, it wasn’t until after they got out of the relationship and perhaps not until they were involved in this sort of a study that they suddenly realised, “Well hell yes, this is... I have been abused.”

Graham Mabury: Did you get to look indigenous couples or gay couples, or the culturally and linguistically diverse, that kind of multi-cultural thing?

Gary Bryant: That was one of the intentions of the study when it started, as well as the sort of mainstream, I suppose Anglo-Saxon type people, that they wanted to look at those subgroups and, no, they did not get men from those groups coming forward. So I think what we can probably deduce is not that, well there’s no such victims in those groups, but rather they probably have even greater barriers to overcome in coming forward. And the other thing is there were no young men. The youngest I think was 33 so there were none of the sort of, you know, perhaps 20-year-olds.

Graham Mabury: A couple of things in concluding; first is the, I mean, obviously the report will contain recommendations and as we said at the outset you won’t be saying, “Fund this instead of what’s being done for women.”

Gary Bryant: Oh no. We - I mean, the support services for women are under-resourced as they are; the problem is that for men there are none. There are no resources being devoted to male victims and something has got to be done about it. You can’t - it would be like saying, “Right-o, we’re going to have a suicide prevention campaign/program and because 80 percent of the suicides are males and in the country areas, and amongst Aboriginal communities it’s much higher than that, therefore, these services will not be made available to women.”

Graham Mabury: No, it’s got to be both and.

Gary Bryant: Yes, that’s right. You need - we need to continue with, probably increase, what’s available for women but we’ve got to start doing something for the male victims.

Graham Mabury: How significant was the Federal Government’s announcement of a national male health policy?

Gary Bryant: Well it’s very significant in general terms. I mean, it takes a wholistic approach to mens health and what’s called a “social determinants of men’s health” which are all of the contributing factors such as, you know, relationship breakdown, losing your job, things like that, that all affect your health. So from that point of view it’s very significant but it did not comment at all on male victims.

Graham Mabury: And finally you’ve got someone on Mount Everest.

Gary Bryant: We do, we do, yes. That is Patrick Hollingworth. He climbed Mount Everest and he chose the Men’s Advisory Network as the, well, charity, the cause or whatever - that he wished to promote through his climb. And the reason he chose us is that he has himself suffered from depression, so that was his motivation, but we are very thrilled first of all that he made it, looking very much to his return to Perth.

Graham Mabury: And as he finds ways to link his success and we congratulate him in his absence. His success to helping the Network. Keep us posted and we’ll be part of that. Gary Bryant, thank you for joining us. We’ll look forward to the launch next week.

Gary Bryant: Thank you very much indeed, Graham.