INTIMATE PARTNER ABUSE OF MEN

A research project commissioned by the Men’s Advisory Network (MAN), supported by a research grant from Lotterywest and conducted by researchers at Edith Cowan University.
html#ixzz0n5xrz7qv Download full report | html#ixzz0n5xrz7qv Download executive summary | html#ixzz0n5xrz7qv Go to project webpage

The Background

In 2006 the WA Family and Domestic Violence Unit of the Department for Community Development published The Men’s Project: Exploring Responses to Men Who Are Victims or Perpetrators of Family and Domestic Violence. This study included the following section on male victims:

The greatest difficulty facing male victims of domestic violence was the establishment of clear definitions of what constitutes a male victim. The experiences of men who claim to be victims of domestic violence are different to those of women. Although the prevalence of male victims is not comparable to that of female victims, male victims do exist, and their specific needs require consideration within current interventions.

Suggested Responses

  • Engage in research partnerships with universities to ascertain the number and prevalence of male victims of domestic violence.
  • Develop good-practice guidelines for identifying and responding to male victims of family and domestic violence.
  • Develop and provide training for health professionals to provide appropriate responses to male victims of domestic violence.
  • Create appropriate referral pathways to assist male victims of domestic violence to access existing services.

As a response to these recommendations, MAN decided to conduct a study into male victims of intimate partner violence. They initially worked with the Family and Domestic Violence Unit to establish a steering committee for the project. The steering committee provided valuable assistance to the research team. The members of the committee consisted of representatives of government agencies and nongovernment organisations representing various stakeholders and services providers who offer services to a range of population groups, specifically Indigenous Australians, gay men, and people from culturally and language diverse (CALD) groups. The steering committee also included academics and researchers who have experience in conducting research in the area of family violence and on men (specifically men in same-sex relationships). The members of the steering committee are listed in the MAN Position Statement. The steering committee met with the research team on a regular basis.

The steering committee prepared a funding application to Lotterywest, developed the study brief, selected the Psychology Department at Edith Cowan University (ECU) as the research partner, and provided advice to the researchers and input to the final report.

The Research

Mrs Emily Tilbrook, Professor Alfred Allan and Dr Greg Dear from ECU conducted the research. In stage one of the study (qualitative interviews with male victims, significant others and service providers), in order to recruit participants from a wide range of backgrounds the researchers used:

  • Media releases distributed by the Men’s Advisory Network and Edith Cowan University (these media releases were also posted on a number of relevant websites);
  • Recruitment flyers and posters which were placed on public notice boards within greater Perth, in the male toilets of hotels frequented by males, as well as emailed, posted and personally delivered to a number of Perth service providers;
  • Draft newspaper articles that were compiled and sent to community newspapers, Out in WA (a gay in WA website) and the Australian Health promotion newsletter.

The researchers approached 33 Perth service providers to invite them to participate in the research and request their assistance in recruiting male victims of intimate partner abuse from the population they provide services to. They also contacted a number of Perth radio stations requesting the directors of talk back shows to broadcast information about the research project and offering to participate in interviews.

The researchers also collaborated with a journalist who was writing a newspaper article on intimate partner abuse. The article was published in the Perth Sunday Times newspaper on the 5th of April, 2009 and led to many inquiries regarding the research. This article was also published online and links to this online version appeared on a number of websites aimed at men.

Participants in stage two of the study (service providers) were recruited through advertisements and snowball sampling (recruited by other participants). An example of one such advertisement appears on the Men’s Health Australia website.

At the National Men’s Health Conference in Newcastle in October 2009, Gary Bryant, Executive Officer at MAN presented a paper containing a summary of the preliminary findings of the study.

The Final Report

The final report, Intimate Partner Abuse of Men, was launched on 26th May 2010 in Perth. The launch generated a great deal of media interest, including:

Critiques

Some people have questioned the validity of the methodology of the study, in particular, the small number of victims who were interviewed in phase one. This was the qualitative phase and after interviewing 15 male victims, saturation was reached. That is, no new themes had been identified by the last few interviews. The researchers deemed that there was no point in continuing to interview more victims as nothing new would be gained.

The results of the survey of 198 service providers are relevant to any agency with an interest in providing services to, or dealing with, males experiencing violence from an intimate female partner.

To read an explanation of this type of research, as used in a commercial context, by Michael Woodhouse of Glide Strategic, who is a MAN Board Member, click html#ixzz0n5xrz7qv here.

To read a comment on Michael’s paper and the research methodology by Professor Rob Donovan of Curtin University and a member of the project steering committee, click html#ixzz0n5xrz7qv here.

The concerns about the small sample size in phase one were also addressed by the researchers at the workshop for service providers held in June 2010 (see below).

In an op-ed titled “Domestic violence figures mask true picture”, Terri Reilly, chief executive of Relationships Australia (WA), unfortunately helped sustain many discredited myths about domestic and family violence, such as “the vast majority of victims are women and children”, “women’s violence is in self-defence”, “the impacts of violence on women are greater than on men”, and “men’s violence, unlike women’s is controlling and dominating”. We are extremely concerned that the head of Relationships Australia (WA), by telling male victims that they do not, and can not, experience systematic controlling abuse like women can, will prevent them from seeking help from services like Relationships Australia.

Workshop for Service Providers

During International Men’s Health Week 2010, MAN conducted a workshop for service providers in Perth on 16th June titled “Abused Men: What are the implications for service provision of the report on intimate partner abuse of men?”. Read the agenda here. At the workshop, MAN released a position statement on the issue of male victims of intimate partner abuse.

In the morning seminar,

The afternoon workshop groups were drawn from different agencies and addressed several questions:

  • What are the implications of the research for me and my practice?
  • What is required to better engage, support and assist male victims?
  • What are the implications for my agency or service?
  • What are we currently doing and how could we do it better?
  • What changes, if any, should be made to:
    • Current generic men’s services?
    • Current male perpetrator services?
    • Current female victim’s services?
    • Other services?
  • How can we engage male victims in services?
  • What are the implications for the various sectors that may encounter a male victim, i.e. domestic violence, magistrates, family law, counselling, police, hospital emergency departments, doctors, etc?
  • What are the implications for the community and the media?

A summary of the workshop outcomes is available html#ixzz0n5xrz7qv here.