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If you are a male victim of family violence - domestic violence, violence from other family members, child abuse, elder abuse, sexual assault, or other forms of family violence and abuse - this page is available for you to tell your anonymous story. Please click here to tell your own story. If you feel like you need support, please click here. Stories are moderated to prevent the posting of spam, so it might take a little while for your story to appear on this page.

PERSONAL STORIES FROM MALE VICTIMS OF FAMILY VIOLENCE AND ABUSE

Wednesday
Jun092010

Robin

The 'marriage' lasted nearly twenty years. It only began to dawn on me what had really happened when after she died (cancer, praise God!), her best friend told me, "Robin, Linda totally subsumed (buried) you." It was then in about 2002 that my healing began. And it was painful.

I'd suffered so much violence from before the time I was born. My 'mother' tried to kill me three times before I was born. She was a famous dancer on the Tivoli Circuit just after WW2; so I was the biggest SOB on the planet. And boy did she pay me back by marrying the guy she did five years later. The guy she ended up marrying tried to finish the job for her. In fact he nearly succeeded twice. And I lost count of the number of times I was knocked out, and that doesn't count the concussions I suffered. After the first 15 years of my life being treated like crapola, I thought this was perfectly normal.

My ex thought this was normal also, and took up where things stopped when I was 15 and sent away from home by the courts because I'd been bashed so badly. But her violence was of the silent kind. She never spoke unless she was spoken to. The pro forma replies were "yes," "no," "I don't know" and shoulder shrugging.

After 5 kids and 19 years of this zero acknowledgement and even less acceptance I managed to get away from her. Lost everything of course.

Her greatest achievement, however, was not doing the job directly on me: it was teaching the children never to listen to me. Never to speak to me. And her living memorial is 5 children that regard their father as the biggest arsehole or weirdo, whichever comes first, that exists on the planet.

Now, this is what I live with, hour by hour. I have 5 children who not only don't speak to me now, apart from one who rings me now and again to tell me how she's going (but there's no personal matters ever ventured into), but, not once, in the thirty-one years I've been a father, has one of my children ever asked me a question. About anything. Ever.

Wow!

Now there's nothing. My health has given up after two nervous breakdowns in 2009 after getting assaulted on consecutive nights driving a cab.

So we've ended up on a disability pension, a $400 car, a couple of boxes of books and sleeping on a friend's couch in a small one-bedroom flat. At 61 it's all over.

For me though, having my balls cut out in public, and especially in front of my children, is just something from which I'm unable to recover.

I don't know how you feel, but I get a strong sense of your pain, brothers.

Best regards to you all. Robin.

Sunday
Jun062010

James

My wife hits me pushes me, tries running me down in our car, smashes the house up, throws household objects while my daughter is in the house. We have an 8-month old daughter that has seen the lot. I'm only 22 and my wife is 27 years of age. Two days ago I was holding my daughter while she was punching me, just missing the baby, so I locked myself and the baby in the car and called the police. I was allowed to leave with the baby but yet again I went back, until yesterday when she told me she wanted to kill me and hit me harder. So I have left the house for my safety but she has my daughter. I called D.H.S. for help about my wife and what I can do for the safety of my daughter, but now she is allowed to have the baby in her care even after the police made a violence report. There are no rights for males. It's a joke and I'm stuck and don't know what to do...

Friday
Jun042010

Tad

The violence in my family started very early. Shortly after our marriage I came home from work later than usual. I had had a few drinks with friends. I was confronted at the door with clenched feasts before my face and an angry voice. I was very young, 23, inexperienced and I felt threatened. I responded with a punch in her face. Her front tooth fell off. Despite immediate dental action trying to implant the tooth back she lost it. I was very sorry, ashamed, and I understood that I could not respond violently to her attacks.

Our marriage lasted 23 years and I paid dearly for that tooth but I never did hit her again. She was abusing me in many ways. Yelling and screaming was her regular weapon. I never did any housework well enough for her. When I did the shopping there was always something I bought that was wrong and it was worth shouting and nagging. Heavy objects were thrown at me a few times. I don’t know how I avoided being seriously injured. She tried to hit my head many times with long and heavy objects. My hands were bruised from taking the blows. Countless verbal abuses were used with real haterade. I have never heard such vulgar language from anybody else. Normally we were about the same weight, height and strength but in her rage she was much stronger and I always had to salvage myself with avoiding and escaping tactics. I remembered the tooth and could never retaliate.

We had 2 sons. When the older was about 15, he reacted once by holding her so she could not attack me when he saw her trying to hit my head with long and heavy piece of wood. It must have looked to him very dangerous as he never before reacted in any way to our fights. She went to see family and friends with the words “the son is holding and the father is beating”. Even though she did not have any bruises or any other marks of “beating”, only her words, nobody ever asked me or the sons about what really happened. They “knew” from her description. I think this was the effect of the ever present government campaign “Violence against women Australia says no”. The power of TV ads is very strong and everybody is programmed that “violence in the family = he is a perpetrator and she is a victim”.

Amazingly, she was always extremely careful to make sure that nobody from outside the house saw her shouting, being angry or violent. And nobody ever did. I often remember such a picture: she angrily and in a vulgar way complains about her friend, lets say Barbara, then the telephone rings. She picks up the phone and after a while, with a sweet voice says: “Oh, Barbara, we were just talking about you. How are you, darling?” I could never be able to be so hypocritical.

Sex? I had to beg for it always and usually when I bought something nice for her we had it but I was never allowed to ejaculate inside her. The sperm was too “yucky” for her to defile her “pure” body. I really don’t know how it happened that we had 2 sons plus 2 abortions.

Sometimes, when she had good days, I asked her: ”Why are you shouting at me and attacking me physically?” Her answer was always the same: “Because you are my husband. I have you for this reason.” I argued that I never agreed to be a victim, I never gave her licence to do that, and she promised before the altar to love me and care for me. She never had any answer to that.

I moved out twice and twice she tracked me down, was very remorseful and I came back. Eventually we decided to separate for good and we signed the agreement which I thought was fair. I said we could always swap places if she thought the agreement was not fair to her. It was like this:

- She was to stay in our house with both sons until the last of them would leave the house

- She was to pay the mortgage rates

- She was not to claim any child support from me

- I was to move out taking only my personal belongings

- If she was unhappy about this agreement I agreed to swap places with her.

I thought it was fair because we both worked, she even earned slightly more than me and our sons were 21 and 16, almost adults. Then she was left in the house with all the furniture and equipment and I had to start anew and buy everything again.

Well, it was only 3 months before I received letters from the Child Support Agency demanding support money for our younger son and from our bank informing me that our mortgage was not being repaid. As I found out later, our agreement was not valid legally and she was advised to ditch it.

An old lawyer from the Citizens Advice Bureau told me that if there is no VRO and no injunction was made by the Family Court about the household, I could simply take the truck, go to my house where she lived and take everything from the house, perhaps leaving her personal belongings. This is what I did. At this time both our sons were living with me already by their own choice and she had to pay the child support for the younger one to me.

The younger son was big and strong so he helped me to load the truck. She came from work and called the police but they could only ask me to leave some staff for her, they could not force me. The old lawyer was right. When the police were out the door she punched me in the face and my glasses fell off. I called the police back. My son was the witness so, very reluctantly, they had to charge her with common assault. Later she was found guilty and was fined $200 in the magistrates court.

I regretted then that our son had to go into court against his own mother but it was the only way to prove the truth of who was the perpetrator and who was a victim in our family. His mother turned against him for that as revenge.

Now I don’t regret anything as a few years later our oldest son committed suicide. He was involved in drugs but there is no doubt in my mind that the true underlying reason for this was violence in his family. Lack of self worth, lack of any help from other family members (my brother and his family lived in the same town), humiliation, lack of a role model from his father, my own suffering, humiliation, alienation from friends and family. All that contributed to his escape to drugs and tragic death.

The worst for me was the fact that all 3 of us being males had no chance of getting help from anywhere. Nobody wanted to know that a woman, the wife and the mother, was a perpetrator and 3 males were victims.

After separation and divorce I found to my surprise that there are women out there who actually like sex, they are loving, caring, not angry or shouting. In general, that there are normal women in the world. I really did not know that during 23 years of our marriage.

Before I migrated to Australia I was proud to be a man. I knew my role in society, I had good self-esteem, even though my wife was already violent to me. At that time it was not so often and society's awareness about family violence was different. Our Society was fighting against “Family Violence” not just against “Violence against women”. And I have always been against any form of violence so my integrity and self-esteem remained intact. In Australia this was simply impossible. According to everybody any violence in the family equals the schematic: she is a victim and he is a perpetrator. Full stop. This is very convenient for the Government and Police but is it fair? Is it true? It relieves everybody from any judgement but how can it be true? After all, both men and women are almost the same as human beings. Both can be angry, both can lie, both can hurt their partner. Why then such a simplistic solution to the problem of family violence in Australia? My God, politicians - wake up! This is not about a feud of men versus women. It is about a healthy society. How can it be healthy if we turn a blind eye to the truth? Why did you lose the balance and common sense for so many years? Maybe it is time to change, and return to a balance and equal rights for both genders.

Sunday
May302010

Jim

My wife is angry at me again (it’s the third time this week, this is a bad week). She doesn’t usually hit me, usually it’s just screaming and slammed doors and throwing things, but this time she starts hitting me.

I think through my options.

1. I could punch her, I am stronger than she is, but last week she said

“I’ll take the children and go to a shelter,

I’ll tell them that you are violent,

Then you’ll never see your children again

And you’ll lose your job.”

What chance would I have of convincing the people at a shelter that my wife is the violent one?

And what would I be teaching my son if I hit her?

2. I could yell back at her, but I don’t want to be like that and besides it just makes her angrier and makes it last longer.

3. I could move out, but then who would protect our children?

4. I could take the children, but where would I go. Men aren’t allowed near shelters, and who would take care of the children while I am at work?

5. I raise my arm to protect my face but her fist hits my forearm and she yells that I am hurting her.

6. My children can hear what’s going on, in fact the neighbours can probably hear too.

I decide she probably can’t really hurt me, so I get in a foetal position on the bed and cover my face with my arms. She swings her arms like a windmill hitting me over and over. It only hurts a little bit, but she is screaming. She screams that she hates me; she hopes I go to hell. Eventually she gets tired of hitting me and stomps out of the room.

She is still angry and won’t talk to me for the next two days.

Every morning I go walking with my best friend. The next day my stomach is still “jumping” inside me. Things have been getting worse and worse for the last 15 years. I decide I am going to tell him about last night. This is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Men are supposed to be able to take care of themselves and I’m letting a girl hit me. I feel so ashamed. What will he think of me? I finally get the words out. He doesn’t know anyone whose wife hits them, I don’t either. Maybe they never tell anyone just like I haven’t for the last 15 years. I haven’t even told my parents or my brothers and sisters what’s going on.

Every Christmas, Father’s Day and Birthday she gives me these cards that say what a wonderful husband I am, and how much she loves me. But the cards make me feel sick because she has these angry outburst once or twice a week when she says she hates me and hopes I go to hell. She says it’s my fault that she gets angry. If I behaved she wouldn’t have to get angry at me or the kids. She comes home late from work so I cook tea, but I never know what she wants, it’s always changing. The other day she threw the tea in the bin. I made a list of the things she doesn’t want for tea, it’s up to 20 now, but then she orders the things on the list when we go out for tea. So this is not really about what “makes her feel sick”, it’s about control.

The kids can’t bring their friends home, because they don’t know what kind of mood mum will be in.

I put petrol in the car on “cheap Wednesday” but there were insufficient funds in the debit card, and the first credit card bounced. Thankfully there was enough money in the second credit card. When I told my wife she said “Well fill up on pay day!” She says she needs to have her hair streaked for work, but there no money for the kids clothes or food. I buy my clothes at the op shop, and get food at a food bank. I am afraid we won’t be able to make our house repayments. Between us we make $90,000, where is all the money going? I don’t have access to the accounts on line because she says I can’t handle money.

We only have sex every couple of months. I feel like “I’m climbing the walls”. When we do have sex it’s usually because I have agree to buy something I know we can’t afford. I feel like I have sold my soul.

In the middle of sexual intercourse she say “That’s it, you’re done! Get out of me! You’re hurting me! Get off’a me!” I don’t know what I’ve done, it could be any minor infraction. I am so worried about it happening that I lose my erection.

I am waking up with nightmares that she is a female Red Back Spider (Black Widow), and I am the male. The female kills the male during sex. Now I am having this nightmare during sex. I have decided sex is not worth it with her.

Lately I have started looking at pornography on the net. It’s the only safe sex I’m getting, but now I feel dirty. They shake hands at church during the service, and I think they wouldn’t want to shake my hand if they knew what I was doing.

She’s on lots of committees at church, she likes to be close to the pastor. She constantly points out other men at church who earn more than I do, or have newer cars or bigger houses, she asks why aren’t I like them. When we are talking to our friends at church she puts me down. I try to laugh it off, but it hurts. And nobody says “You shouldn’t talk about your husband like that.” I hardly feel like going any more. She says she’s the spiritual one.

I promised to be true good times and bad. This must be the bad times. Sometimes I wish I were dead, how bad could hell be? But who would protect the kids.

I see these commercials on TV; they say that violence against women is bad. Why isn’t violence against children or men bad? What is this doing to my children? Will my daughter be violent to her husband? Will my son be the victim of a violent woman? Why isn’t domestic violence bad no matter who is doing it? Sure she hasn’t broken any bones, but it still hurts. I must deserve this; maybe God is punishing me for something I did wrong? I feel so confused.

End of the story.

Five years after this incident, I saw a psychiatrist; she helped me see that this was “not a marriage”. My youngest daughter was 16 so I knew she could stay with me. I went to the bank and asked them to show me how to open an account in my own name, and how to transfer money on the internet. I made a fair budget where we each had to pay according to our income. I deposited my pay cheque into my own account. My wife said she hated me and was getting a divorce, and I said fine, and moved out of the master bedroom.

I was lucky; my children were old enough to be able to protect me when she said I was violent to her.

Thursday
May272010

Craig

I met my wife who was a single mum of 3 boys in 1997 and we married later that year in December. Over the years I was to become a father of 2 more boys.

On the 17th of October 2007 at 2:45pm I collapsed at the farm I worked on: paralysed on the right side with a high temperature of 40.9 C (105 F). I was found about an hour and a half afterwards and taken to hospital where I was to stay for the next 52 days. I was eventually diagnosed with viral encephalitis and I was to relearn to walk and do many things that we take for granted... such as walking, getting out of a chair and showering.

The virus affected my strength, noticeably my right side. I had problems with my right leg that would often freeze up and stay dead for a period of time between 10 seconds to a few hours. I developed uncontrollable shakes if I was to over-exercise and had chronic fatigue where I would need to sleep after 10 – 15 minutes in the gym. Another symptom that was even more disturbing was the partial amnesia that caused me to forget many significant things from my past. For example, I was to walk into my sister-in-law's home and remark on their new kitchen, only to be informed that it was 3 years old and I had been in it many times before. Another time I asked a friend how his sister's kids were, only to be informed that one of the kids had drowned at least 10 years previously. I had known this, but it was new information to me.

Another side-effect is that it affected me in that I cannot remember lists. If you tell me 3 things to do, I will only be able to remember 1 or 2 of them.

Upon release from hospital I was given a walking stick and was supposed to acquire a shower stool to make sure I was able to shower safely. The cost was $65 to buy one and my wife said that I would have to cope without one as we couldn't afford it. A rehabilitation nurse came to visit the home and sat both of us down and explained the processes needed to be put into place to make sure I managed fatigue and mobility issues. The major one with Christmas coming up, was that I would have to go shopping in a wheel chair.

The morning we went to go Christmas shopping I asked my wife if I could have some money to buy the kids some presents. She replied to me, “No. A real man would not be begging his wife for money. A real man would be out earning his own!”

This remark cut deep to my heart. It struck deep into the very core of my identity as a man. I was struggling with the major life changes that had happened to me and it was as if she had belted me with a lump of 4-by-2 in the inner man. I remember saying a prayer that went like this: "Lord, I know you heard everything that just happened. All I want is some money to buy some presents for the family." We went shopping and I met a man from church who said to me, "Craig, I'm glad I met you today. I have carried this around for you" and he gave me $100. When I told my wife what happened she wanted me to hand it over to her, saying "You don't deserve to have any money, you have to give it to me."

I replied that I was going to use it to bless the boys over the Christmas Holidays and use it to see a movie or something else.

Over the next 12 months I was to hear this comment about not being a real man many times in many varied forms. I slowly gained some strength and resumed my interest in woodwork and slowly made some kids furniture: tables, chairs and toys. I was only able to manage about 40 minutes a day in the garage and so progress was slow, but over a couple of months I made a few things and decided to try and sell some at a local market. Nothing sold, but I was asked to make a bookshelf for some people who were OK about the extended time it would take me to build it.

I started to make the bookshelf using the materials I had in the garage and needed to get some more from the hardware to finish it. I asked my wife for some money to go and get the materials I needed and was told "You have a garage full of stuff. Use what you have. I’m not giving you a cent. A real man would have made some money selling what he made by now!"

I replied, saying I didn’t have what I needed - mainly some sandpaper, putty, the right screws and stain, and that I wouldn’t be able to finish it without those materials. A week later she told me "I have the utmost contempt for you. You promised these people a bookshelf and you won’t finish it. A real man would finish what he began!" I replied about how I could finish it within the week if she gave me some money to do so and she said "No. Go and earn your own money. Be a real man and go and get a real job."

I was told many times that I was cursed by God, that he didn’t hear my prayers. On two occasions she organised some people to come around to exorcise the devil from me, telling me a few minutes before they come what she had done.

I was slowly manipulated and ostracised from family and friends. Often told that even my family didn’t want anything to do with me, nor did my friends. For me to shower safely I would sit on the shower floor. One day she came to the shower door telling me that I was only acting, that the doctors didn’t know what they were on about, that there was nothing wrong with me. She knew better and she was going to force me to go and work and be a real man whether I liked it or not. (In 12 years of marriage my wife had never worked until I fell sick).

Her words were like bullets entering into me. The barrage of words striking me deep, and I curled into a foetal position crying out to God to make her stop, that I couldn’t handle her words and actions any more.

I also suffered some level of post-traumatic stress and depression. I would often wake up of a night with dreams that I was paralysed and unable to move or call out for help, having flashbacks of the time I collapsed. My doctor gave me some antidepressants which I tried, but couldn’t handle the taste and went off them within the week. I actually felt better about talking about the issues of being sick with another guy at church, though I was not able to talk about the way my wife was treating me.

I was thinking about writing a book and started to plan a kids' book with the boys. Again my wife said "who are you to write a book? You’re not good enough to write a book." She would often tear up my writings, come and stand over me and throw things at me, often threatening that one day she would stab me with a knife.

Eventually she did hit me, punching me in the head. I became so frightened of her that I could only bear to talk to her for a few minutes before fearing she would go into one of her rages. Eventually I sat down with our church pastor and told him what was going on and he laughed at me saying he didn’t believe things were as bad as they were, but they would pay for us to have counselling.

At counselling I would share what was going on and my wife would sit there saying I was lying and mentally ill. Then on the way home she would verbally abuse me for mentioning what was going on, saying it was none of the counsellor's business. That it was me who needed fixing up not her. The counsellor gave us some homework to do in the form of journalling a letter. In it we were to tell each other exactly what it was we wanted to say to each other, with strict instructions that we were not to read each other's letters.

My wife found mine and ripped it out of the journal and gave it to the ladies and elders at church to read, saying look at the letter I had written to her. It was from this point on that I was ostracised by the church. I was thinking of resuming some study at a bible college and thought perhaps I could get a room at the college. My pastor got wind of what I was thinking and rang me saying, "Craig, I’m good friends with the college president and I will make sure if you leave your family that you will never be able to minister within our organisation ever again, and you will not be allowed to continue any study whatsoever."

This tore me apart inside. I had no money. Even though I was on government benefits my wife took all of it. I had nowhere to go and I was dying inside. I was like a ball of lead. I had no joy. There were times that I thought of taking my life, though I made the decision no matter what I would not do that, as I had only the year before set up a shire-wide suicide prevention and awareness network and had counselled a few people over the years from doing so.

Finally the crunch came when I was bitten on the wrist deep to the bone. In trying to restrain my wife from harming me further I shoved her and she fell, hitting her head on the couch. She rang the police about my abusing her and on their arrival ranted about my mental illness and she had my anti-depressant tablets to prove it. When the police heard my story and asked if that was right, she said "yes" and then they asked me if I wanted her charged with assault and again I said "no"! On their suggestion to move out of the house I threw some things into my Kia Pregio van and moved out of the house and lived in the back of my van for the next 5 or so weeks.

I tried the department of housing. They put me on a waiting-list and I am still waiting a year later for a house to be made available. There was nowhere for me to turn and so I became numb, barely able to live. Suffering from mobility, fatigue and memory problems combined with the issues involved from being abused for so long, I became a recluse.

As a man who suffered domestic violence I found there was nowhere for me to turn. Few people believed me. The public brochures that the NSW government department have dealing with domestic abuse make out that it is the man who is the abuser. The other brochure talking about abuse in society says "Women, children and others" are liable to suffer abuse. The question I ask is, "who are the others?"

My name is Craig Bennett and I am a survivor of domestic abuse and this has been some of my story.

P.S. I have started a blog on this issue and have posted a poem I wrote on my experience here called "Cutting Words." Thanks, Craig B.