Men can be domestic violence victims too

Amber Petty: The Advertiser | September 25, 2008,22606,24397363-5017200,00.html

VIOLENT relationships, it turns out, are a two-way street.

I recently commented on how unfairly many women are judged after finding themselves in violent relationships with men.

In the days that followed, I received many emails from victims. Surprisingly, many of them were from men, who seemed to be pleading with the world to understand that it’s not always the women who are the victims. Indeed, there are many men suffering in silence at the hands of their violent girlfriends and wives.

The stories I read were from men all suffering the same hurt, humiliation and sadness you would expect from female victims. There were a couple of things, however, that stood out that really isolated these poor guys even more.

There seemed to be an extra layer of humiliation for these victims, because in our blokey Australian society having your missus beating you up and sexually attacking you just doesn’t make sense.

Very few could bring themselves to speak out against their women, for fear their stories would never be believed.

Not even by those closest to them, such as family and mates, who normally would stand by them if they experienced trials in other areas of their lives.

Dave, from Aldinga, writes: “I have been married for 20-plus years and have two children. I have been abused for the past eight years and stay. Does that make me less of a man? Very likely.

“I see it as a strength to protect my children. Much of the abuse is generalised, not directed at me but more a venting of frustration.

“If I were not there, the children would get it – no child deserves that treatment.

“Why dont I leave? Women get given custody – simple as that.”

Another victim, from Salisbury, writes he has trained himself to switch off during the many attacks from his wife, who is suffering from bipolar disorder.

He has adopted this passive response for fear that if he retaliates, she will cry victim and run to the police, where his story is unlikely to be believed over hers. He, too, stays purely for the children.

On one really bad night, his wife was on medication and drinking heavily. She grabbed their youngest child and headed for the car. He ran towards them, grabbing the child in one hand and trying to stop his wife with the other.

While he tried to shield his child, his wife stabbed him in the leg with his keys six times. And, yes, he made a complaint to police, which was never followed up.

It came as a shock to our SAFM listeners and my male co-hosts when we received a phone call from Steve, of Hackham West. A burly 193cm, 110kg regular Aussie bloke, he was lying at home one night after being injured at a footy game when he heard a tap on his bedroom window.

It was a woman he had been dating for several months. She was clearly intoxicated and seemed to be after a less-than-romantic “booty call”. Being half asleep, injured and not particularly turned on by his partner’s entrance, he repeatedly told her: “No!” She then started pushing him towards the bedroom wall, knocking him down on to the bed where she restrained him and “raped” him.

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As any brave person who has just been subjected to a serious crime would do, he called the police who arrived at his house and conducted the standard procedures they do with all rape cases.

When it got to the stage where he was asked by the police to hand over a photo of his partner, who had now become the accused, things went from bad to worse.

On seeing a beautiful woman staring back at them, they immediately turned on him, accused him of wasting their time as there was no way known he couldn’t have been “up for it”.

We women can rightly talk about inequality when it comes to a whole range of things. Maybe it’s time, however, we shared a little bit of that airtime with the guys because it would sadly seem that for them, in matters of violence and abuse, “no” most certainly doesn’t seem to be “no”.

Amber Petty is co-host of the SAFM morning show.

Society tells us that if you are a heterosexual male, you are a violent beast who needs to be shamed into domesticity, while continuing to be held accountable for the actions of all bestial males. At least one woman has finally woken up to that idiocy.

Better late than never.