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Thursday
Dec292016

Arthur's personal story

I just submitted this letter to the Sydney Morning Herald …

It's beyond tragic that on White Ribbon Day I listened to my friend describe her day in court yesterday when her husband appeared on a charge of breaching his AVO by repeatedly physically attacking her in their home. It seems unbelievable, but sadly true, that all charges against him were dropped, with no AVO remaining in place to protect her, because according to the police prosecutor “he just won't obey it anyway”. In a very real sense, this adds insult to injury with the months of physical, verbal, emotional and financial abuse that my friend has endured. In court she was not allowed to speak. “Victim impact statements are for juries”, the magistrate said. The police prosecutor colluded with the defence lawyer and did not call on my friend to speak and didn't present any evidence of the repeated attacks that police attended. She is now numb in the realisation that her husband is free to return to their home and continue his abuse and she now genuinely fears for her life. She has lost all faith in the legal system's interest in her well-being and ability to protect her. She has nowhere to turn. The police's advice to her is to just move out. But where can she go? The financial abuse means she will be homeless. My email to Pru Goward, NSW Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, was deftly buck-passed with “this matter falls within the administration of the Minister for Police and the Attorney General” and was forwarded to them. They have not responded.

How can this happen in 2016 you might ask? Now read the paragraph above again but swap the words “her” and “his”, “she” and “he”, “wife” and “husband” and you'll get the real story. White Ribbon Day is entirely necessary and violence against women and children must be stopped. But a substantial proportion of domestic violence is committed against men and remains largely unacknowledged. A man who physically defends himself immediately risks becoming viewed as the perpetrator. Even the NSW Family and Community Services web site repeatedly ignores male victims, for example their “Staying Home Leaving Violence program” that “helps women and children stay in the family home.” As my friend says, as a male victim of domestic violence, he simply doesn't exist.

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