Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: I Never Been ta Borstal

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  • Mark Graham,

    I experienced emotional violence of a pretty high order from a girlfriend for two years. My family and friends reacted with humour and put downs. Violence in men by women is treated as a joke. It's not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Thanks Steven. I know you've given us glimpses of your experience over the years and I'm grateful that you've chosen to share it here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Mark Graham,

    Violence in men by women is treated as a joke. It’s not.

    More than a decade ago, we got quite involved as a family in the relationship breakup of friends where he had been accused of violence and we knew – we’d even seen it – that the abuse ran the other way. There were complicating factors (drugs, on both sides).

    Our house was the neutral ground for Barnardo’s-monitored visits with his children. We loaned him money to fund a review of a frankly disgraceful social worker's report (she didn't simply bother to follow up on anything he'd said, including trespass orders taken out by a school, which could have been verified in five minutes). I testified in Family Court and was accused of being a drug dealer, among other things, but the comments (“sincere and credible”) in the judge’s decision were gratifying. It went okay in the end.

    Let me be clear: everything says that the vast majority of the abuse runs the other way. That’s just not in doubt. But Fiona and I did have a few conversations afterwards about the fact that our social circle wouldn’t have tolerated male-on-female abuse the way it was in this case.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Thanks for writing this Steven.
    The dark brutal side of Kiwi life is largely down to the way our culture has shaped us men. Most of us mostly live with this buried out of sight.
    But most of us have at least glimpsed it in the raw and it is ugly and disturbing. The more so because it is ours.
    "Harden up" we say. When sometimes we need to be screaming: "soften the fuck up!"

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2118 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    ignorance about male victimisation

    Physical violence is often men on women, it still doesnt lessen the trauma of female violence toward men, often emotional abuse. Which some view as way more damaging. Yes it does go on, victimisation cuts across the gender divide.
    Alcohol does bring it out in some, there is no doubt All these people abusers and their victims need help to deal with what are personal problems without stigmatisation.
    In a goal/ money obsessed society its unlikely to happen.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • Ianmac,

    A compelling and brave story Steven. Thanks.
    Taxpayers money should be available to fund the groups who help people survive disastrous beginnings. Unfortunately funding is being cut or cancelled. In our area 14 such groups have been cut. Instead this Government has a crazy preference for the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. So who can those in need turn to?
    If it takes a community to raise a child, should the community be funded by Taxpayers?

    Bleneim • Since Aug 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Thank you

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Thanks for writing this post Stephan. It provoked some thoughts, and one of the thoughts that popped into my mind was Foucault's conception of power - power is omnipresent - that is, it exists everywhere, at all levels, and all places.

    I'm just thinking aloud here; violence, as a thing, is independent of person doing it. It is a discrete 'thing', a tool that is picked up. It, along with power, exists everywhere, at all levels, and all places. Additionally, the exercise of violence has significant adverse effects in a significant majority of cases (in some cases, violence can have positive effects).

    Power doesn't have a gender, and neither does violence. It just is. However, our society has gendered violence in a way that highlights male violence against women, because rightly, that is an issue that affects society enormously as a result of its effects, and needs to be curtailed. But that gendering blinds us to female violence against men,and male violence against men, not because it doesn't exist (it does, if violence is omnipresent), but because society has deemed it a lesser issue. Equally, there are effects of that violence.

    If we approach violence as a concept without gender, that it is a thing that exists regardless of gender, and is deployed between all genders, then perhaps we might start to make the argument that we ought to pay attention to the means and ways of dealing with violence as a thing that needs curtailing, irrespective of gender.

    I'm just thinking aloud here, and throwing my thoughts into the mix. FWIW I am a victim of both male and female violence, but thankfully not physical, and not to a significant degree.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    Hey Steven, look after yourself beating those swords into ploughshares, it is brutal, hard work and takes its toll. I've switched to watercolour painting it's a bit girly but it doesn't hurt the body so much. Good luck with mosaic.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin McCready,

    Thanks for the post Steven. I didn't know until I was 28 years old that I could live a life without screaming at people. Biggest thing I then learned is that I was responsible for my own emotions. To blame others for the way I felt was to give them power over me. The Jung quote on the pamphlet is similar - pity it had to be a Jung quote though. My pet hate now are social workers sucked into the postmodernist vortex. Anyway, sounds like you're sorted or getting there. Congrats on helping others. william blake, "girly"? Hope you were attempting a bad joke?

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to ,

    I was honoured to be asked, and it's a very small return for the way that you've helped me to change my thinking over the years, Steven.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • william blake, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    Attempting a bad joke? No it's hegemonic masculinity that is the bad joke.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Gee,

    Thank you for sharing your story, Steven, and all the best for MOSAIC. May I share the pdf (only) on Facebook to spread the message?

    Canada, eh • Since May 2011 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Gee,

    Thanks Steven, I'll post it then. :)

    Canada, eh • Since May 2011 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Johnson,

    This is fantastic writing. Such a poorly discussed topic, how some get drawn at a young age unwittingly into keewee "staunch" violence and the consequences on the soul. Thank you man.

    hamilton • Since Mar 2016 • 99 posts Report Reply

  • Helen Wilson,

    Good on you Steven. I was involved in setting up the Wellington Women's Refuge years ago but I now believe one of the reasons that there seems to have been no change in domestic violence statistics is precisely because the funding recipients and campaigns (millions it must be over the years) fail to acknowledge what research is now showing - that men are equally likely to be victims of violent female partners. Unless relationship dynamics in these situations are acknowledged and understood it is unlikely that there will be any resolution. It takes courage to speak out as you have.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2016 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Pete,

    Good tale to read, brother

    There are more forms of bravery than olympics and rugby

    Remember if you reach out for help and people slap you down then that's on them, not you

    Since Apr 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Helen Wilson,

    Did you actually read what Steven wrote, Helen?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Helen Wilson,

    ... what research is now showing – that men are equally likely to be victims of violent female partners.

    {{Citation needed}}

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Helen Wilson,

    The two well known longitudinal studies from the 1970s - one in dunedin and one in Christchurch - have both found this. The Dunedin researcher was on TV recently saying that she had problems getting her results published because of the reluctance to admit that this is the case so I am not sure if there was a publication from her research. And. David Fergusson from the Christchurch study had similar findings and all the publications are on his website and on the study website.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2016 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Helen Wilson,

    When this finding first came out it was flat rejected by most feminist criminologists so we really had difficulty getting those papers published. Even after the papers were published, we were never invited to submit the findings at any conferences. It was one of the most difficult parts of the research to get it out there.

    Prof Terry Moffitt
    Associate Director
    Dunedin Longitudinal Study
    (31:50) Why Am I Ep2

    Learning of this at the time and considering the implications, for a moment I wondered if it might even be worth including in Matthew Dentith’s thread. As you are no doubt aware the doco goes on to mention that their research has subsequently been backed up by studies in the UK, US etc. Good posts Helen.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to mark taslov,

    Right, so the outcome of this amazing research has been suppressed by a mighty cabal of feminist criminologists for 40 years?

    Yeah, nah.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Martin Lindberg,

    That’s not remotely close to my interpretation. Firstly none of the papers produced are 40 years old. These are recent findings.

    Very simply, Moffitt’s statement presenting the claims that most feminist criminologists flat rejected the study’s findings and that the researchers were not invited to submit the findings at conferences doesn’t sound to me as if Professor Moffitt was attributing the widespread rejection to flawed research, individual scruples or poor presentation but rather hinting at there being some minor degree of collusion for a period for such a comprehensive suppression to occur.

    Despite what I’m certain is a far more nuanced reality, the statement itself echos the kinds of conspiracy theories one is likely to hear from deluded men’s right activists,and hence “for a moment” sometime in May it felt like a natural fit for Matthew’s thread, in exactly that context.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Helen Wilson,

    research is now showing – that men are equally likely to be victims of violent female partners.

    Without denying this might be the case in terms of violent incidents, isn't it also true that women are vastly more likely to end up in hospital - or worse, the morgue?

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2118 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    My feminist friends are unwilling to enter this fray because it's gone from Steven's brave post about being a male survivor of male violence and abuse...to feminist-bashing.

    So here are some things to think about.

    Firstly, Intimate Partner Violence always exists in a context.

    Some of this violence results from poor impulse-control, and may be perpetrated by men or women, or both at once. Injuries are usually not serious.

    The other kind is what Women's Refuges exist for. The perpetrator (almost always a male) builds a relationship of total control over his intimate partner, based on threats, intimidation, and violence. This is the kind of IPV that puts women in fear of their lives, and fear for their children. The perpetrator will have isolated his partner from her friends and family, and he probably has control of the family finances. Women are afraid to leave because that is the time the perpetrator is most likely to seriously hurt or kill her. And she knows that if she leaves she will have little money, possibly no income, nowhere to live and she will have to leave her belongings, and her children's belongings, behind.
    It is for this need that Women's Refuges exist.

    When a woman murders her male partner, it is often because of ongoing IPV from him. The recognition of provocation as a defence recognised Battered Women's Syndrome as a mitigating factor.

    Women worked for decades to get Women's Refuges open, and still work tirelessly to keep them running and support the women who need their help.

    If men want to help other male survivors of violence and sexual abuse, perpetrated by men or women, I hope that they will work in that cause as so many women have worked in ours. And without needing to attack feminism or women's needs while they do so.

    Western Feminism has given women the legal status of people, alongside men. In many parts of the world, and in most of our own history, women have had only the status of property belonging to men, to be beaten, raped and otherwise mistreated on his whim. Marital rape has only been a crime since 1986. Married women who divorce have only had the right to half the matrimonial property since 1976. That right was extended to de-facto couples of 3 years or more in 2002. These are profound and relatively recent shifts in the zeitgeist. I hope you will understand why women still feel deeply anxious about our own safety and place in the world.

    Two final things: If a new social study presents a result very different to other studies, the question is whether it is a breakthrough to new knowledge, or whether its design and methodology is flawed. People I respect suggest that the Dunedin Longitudinal Study has failed to distinguish between lack-of-impulse-control violence and violence in the context of abusive relationships.

    Finally: Of course IPV can also occur in LGBT relationships. I don't know how much research has been done into how best to support survivors. I'd be glad to hear of initiatives in this area if anyone knows.

    I doubt I'll be posting in this thread again. Thanks to my friends (you know who you are) for their wise words and apologies for probably having mangled them here.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report Reply

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