Don's personal story
Thursday, October 1, 2015
One in Three Campaign

I am a male firefighter. I am a victim of family violence and my daughter is a victim of family violence.

When the Prime Minister of this country came out last week and stated “The issue of domestic violence, or family violence, as it's often called, which is just violence against women....”, then it not only makes my suffering feel less important – it makes me feel irrelevant, ignored, and invisible.

Family violence includes emotional abuse. It has impacted my life every day for several years in a form I can only describe as a living hell. I see no end in sight. I've had about eight hours of contact with my only child in almost five years despite spending a fortune and never stopping trying. I have been so ruthlessly removed from all aspects of her life that the only way I even know my child is alive is because I receive a report card in the mail. She's always on my mind and every time my phone rings I wonder if it might just be her.

Hidden epidemic? There is nothing more hidden than this family violence. Hospitalisation rates? In an instant I would swap this emotional torture for the broken bones of physical abuse because physical abuse can be diagnosed, medicated and set on a fixed path of recovery. Not so with this family violence.

Children see this violence? My child did not see the violence in the family dynamic to which I refer. No, it is much worse. This family violence hides in the robes of one parent, enmeshing the unknowing child and gradually orchestrating and authorising the child to sever their loving relationship with the other parent – in my case the entire paternal family tree. This is achieved through malicious intent, manipulation of a broken Family Court and exploiting the ignorance of an uncaring society.

How do victims seek justice? Believe me, there is no justice in this form of family violence and it will not change until parental alienation is acknowledged for what it is – Child Abuse and Ex-Partner Abuse. Alienators know too well they can accuse, abuse and contravene with impunity. False allegations are a common tactic. I believed perjury to be a crime. How many Australians know there is no offence for perjury in our Family Court? Meanwhile, the child buries the guilt of “choosing” to unnaturally erase their other loving parent, a burden they then carry for life unless it can be lifted from their shoulders.

When people say family violence needs funding and awareness I agree wholeheartedly. But our government decided not to denounce all family violence by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Instead they chose to allocate funds only to women and thereby imply that if you are a male victim your suffering is less important. I question why a government purportedly promoting social equality leads by inequality.

A measure of this counter-productiveness could be seen immediately after the announcement, when social media went into meltdown with a virtual online gender war. On one side stand the well organised army of mostly women who preach “equality” but demand precedence over men who may also be murdered or driven to add to the deplorable male suicide rate. On the other side stand mostly men who point out that, rather than whipping up hysteria against an entire gender, all violence should be condemned regardless of gender and that violence needs to be addressed at a generational level which is inclusive rather than exclusive.

So if our Government makes me feel irrelevant and therefore the welfare of my suffering child irrelevant, then how does it make those men without social ties feel, who are victims, have nowhere to turn and are one bad day away from making the ultimate bad decision? – whether that be their own life or someone else’s life, who will then become just another statistic.

Parental alienation is an insipid form of family violence but our Prime Minister has casually dismissed it. Our children deserve more than comments from government that portray family violence as “just violence against women” and actions that suggest our suffering isn’t even a blip on the horizon. PA isn’t just another term to be considered with family dynamics and unfortunate stories that happen to others. It is cruelty of the highest order, emotional torture beyond compare and it is about time society recognized it as such.

Article originally appeared on One in Three Campaign (http://www.oneinthree.com.au/).
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