Three stories about male victims of family and domestic violence hit the Australian media this week in the space of 24 hours. Each story was very different, but they all shared a common, and surprisingly rare feature: they all involved a man speaking out about his experience.
The first story to be published was about Corey Duggan, a 26-year old carpenter, who told the Newcastle Herald that he had suffered mental and physical abuse in a previous relationship.
"When I do tell people about it, being a man, I typically get - 'What did you do?'”, he said. "I never went to the police about it. I thought the best thing I could do was just walk away, and try to forget about it."
Duggan told the Chronicle that he had contemplated suicide a couple of times. "Us blokes, we need help,” he said. “There are too many of us killing ourselves. I have lost mates to suicide, and no one even knew they were struggling."
HELP US KEEP MEN AND BOYS SAFE
Next up was the Rev Dr Michael F. Bird writing in The Spectator.
“My mother could be caring, loving, nurturing, and selfless,” he wrote. “But she could also be, especially when drunk, heartlessly cruel. From her I experienced emotional manipulation, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and homelessness.”
“It pains me to say it,” he added, “but my most vivid memory of my mother was in one of her drunken fits of fury, her face contorted with rage, and screaming in the shrillest voice I’ve heard, ‘I hate you!’”
For Bird, the abuse had “a deep and detrimental effect” and impacted his relationship with women. “For the first twenty years of my life I was convinced that most women hated me or were at least coldly indifferent to me,” he admitted.
Bird said his experience was similar to that of former Labor minister, Craig Emerson, who opened up about his abusive mother is his biography The Boy From Barradine that was published last year.
Bird had been compelled to share his story after attending a seminar on domestic violence and churches, where the entire focus of the event was on female victims of domestic and family violence.
“I get the point because the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are men,” he wrote. “However, I want to yell out, ‘Who is protecting the children from some of those women?’ We are talking about 25 per cent of cases … surely this percentage warrants some attention.’
The third story to appear was a case from the UK published on the Australian news site news.com.au
It told the story of Alex Skeel, 22, who recently narrated a BBC documentary “Abused By My Girlfriend”, which told the story of the violence he experienced from the mother of his child, Jordan Worth.
Worth was jailed for seven-and-a-half after admitting grievous bodily harm and coercive controlling behaviour.
Skeel’s story is told in harrowing detail on the BBC website.
“I’d heard of male domestic abuse before I met Jordan,” he says. “I knew that she was really, really bad but I didn’t know what to do. We had two children together. I just hoped it would stop. If I got hit one time less it was a great day. It was that simple. My concern was with the kids, that they were alright. You can never tell someone to leave that kind of situation. That’s the worst thing. You need to just say, ‘Look, if you ever need to talk with me I’m here.’”
Skeel is hoping that telling his story will help other men who are victims of domestic violence.
“I sometimes think the main reason I’m alive is to raise awareness. There must be a reason for it. The reason is to help people. I only hope that things get better for other victims.”
READ: Abused boyfriend found '10 days from death' after years of abuse by girlfriend (news.com.au)
LISTEN: ABC Life Matters program with a male victim and female ex-perpetrator of domestic violence.
HELPLINES AND USEFUL WEBSITES
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732): National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service
Mensline Australia - A telephone and online counselling service for men with family and relationship concerns.
One in Three - Campaign raising awareness of male victims of domestic and family violence
Photo credit: Sarandy Westfall