Friday, February 15, 2008

Gonna Fix It So You Never Leave This House Of Pain...

Remember those tv advertisements that ran over the past few years about Violence Against Women? I'm not sure if they're still on the idiot box, but they were powerful indictments on how women are frequently bashed and raped in domestic situations. Strong stuff. They offered up a number of solutions and alternatives for women who needed to flee abusers. The tag line was: "Violence Against Women? Australia says no!" Great weren't they?

I hated them. With a passion. Thought that they were not only demeaning but also ignorant and insulting.


Because they put forward an ostrich approach to domestic violence - the way the ads were presented domestic violence and sexual abuse only happens against women. men are immune. They're all superman when it comes to these kinds of things. Men don't get bashed, or raped, only women do. I always thought that the ads should have gone further and shown men in situations of domestic violence and ran the proper tag line: "Domestic Violence? Australia Says No!" Men are just as prone to this kind of thing as anyone else. Only an idiot from the early 19th century would think otherwise.

Case in point. We had a guy come in not so long ago with two little kids. The kids looked terrified but relaxed when the guy gave them some paper and a few pens. "It's alright," he told them, "mummy won't look for us here." Strange, I thought. This wasn't a small guy. He was at least six foot three and 16 stone and it wasn't fat. He showed me his ID - he's a licensed security guard for one of the most reputable companies in Australia - not the usual crowd control gorilla that you find at a concert, this guy was one step away from being a cop. He was well presented, other than the black eye and the long scratch down his cheek and neck.

"I need help. I've just fled a domestic violence situation last night. Banana City* won't accept me because I'm a man. What can you do?" I ran through our usual options and outlined what could be done. He went away and came back, he'd found a place, got the paperwork done and presented it all to be processed. While we waited he began to talk.

"It all began about three years ago," he said. "She went really funny all of a sudden and demanded that I move out of the house proper and live in the carport. I said, 'Hang on...' and with that she threw a pan at me, in front of the kids. BANG off my head. I started towards her and she said she'd call the cops and say I bashed her if I didn't do what she said. I thought, ok, I'll give it a bit of time then, let her cool off, and off I went. That was my first mistake.

"Every night I'd come home I'd have to sleep in the carport. I wasn't allowed to move the car, mind you, I had to sleep with it. Hot summers, cold winters, it didn't matter. This went on for a while and then the abuse really kicked in. We'd be having dinner and she'd haul off and start smashing me in the face, in front of the kids. I'd tell her to stop, no dice. She'd scream at me that I was useless and if I hit her she'd call the cops. The smallest things would set her off - a dirty glass in the sink. A weed in the driveway. Sand in the kids shoes. She'd wait til the kids went to bed and then start bashing and threatening me. I'd go the carport because at least there I was safe.

"Then it got really bad. If I tried to talk she'd spit at me. She'd swear, threaten and assault me. Dishes, glassware, you name it. She made me transfer all my money into her account and not pay the bills, then I'd get slapped about for the bills not being paid. Couldn't win that one. Then she'd say how she was going to take the kids away, that she'd call the cops and tell them that I'd been bashing her. I'm no idiot, I know that if she did that then the cops would come and arrest me, no matter what I said, so I had to take that threat seriously.

"The end came when she went really crazy. In one week she bashed me in front of the kids every night. The last night she went for me with a knife. That was it. I thought about taking her out, just being done with it all, but then the kids. What would happen to them? And what would they learn? As I was thinking this I hesitated and she stabbed me in the ribs. Superficial, but it was enough for me to get the knife and throw it away. Then the glass came and cracked on my head, she got some cut glass and began to carve me up. 'F*ck this, I'm gone!' I thought, so I ran into the next room, locked her in, grabbed her purse with the keycards in it, grabbed the kids and bolted. I went straight to the cops, filed a report and promptly passed out.

"When I woke up I was in the ER department being treated. Two cops were there wanting to ask me questions. They told me that they'd been to see her and that she'd claimed that I'd attacked her. They took a statement and asked did I believe the kids were in danger. I replied yes, my heart sank, this was it, the cops would side with her. Then one of the cops, a female, leant over and said, 'We don't believe her. She hasn't got a mark on her and you're here. Seriously, if you'd bashed her like she says you did then she'd be downstairs with a DFKDFC** sticker on her.' I got the kids and fled. Now I'm here."

This stuff happens all too frequently and the shame is that the bulk of the agencies set up to assist are geared more towards women then they are the wider community. Women and men are bashed and raped by men and women every day.

Domestic Violence, we all should say no. I'd love to see those tv ads reworked to reflect what's happening in the community of today, as opposed to what was believed back in the 1960s.

*Banana City - well known advocate service whereby if you're fleeing a domestic violence situation they'll help. Not sure why they turned this guy down, but he was insistent that it was because he's a man. Might be something in it. I've seen people on the phones break down and cry after being told that not only will they not be helped, but that the best thing for them is to go back home and wait it out. Great advice, and people think we're bad.

**DFKDFC - years ago a doctor pal of mine used to insist that this expression was doctors jargon for 'Don't F*cking Know, Don't F*king Care' and was written on charts of people who were loopy or faking it as a code. Anyone wanna verify that? I've got others.


Anonymous said...

I'm a Bloglines reader of your work, and I've sat and read from the sidelines for a long time now, but I can also attest that battered blokes may be the problem nobody wants to acknowledge.

I lived in the ACT back then. While I can't claim it went quite as badly for me, I *was* mistreated by the (then) wife, and eventually needed to take a few cracked ribs and a small stab wound to the doctor.

He insisted I go to the police and press charges. I may as well not have bothered.

The big, old-school sarge looked me in the face and said, "Well, mate, you go off somewhere till you're fit again, then come back and break her [expletive deleted] jaw, then we'll lock you up, and YOU'LL BE SAFE, ha ha ha!!"

I suppose he did me a favour: I could see no way forward, so I left a few years of inhuman treatment behind.

Thank goodness we had no kiddies.

RSC said...

It's a sad indictment on society today that a mentality still exists that would have you believe that domestic violence is only directed towards women. It appears that if you report being bashed then you're less of a man - "Why didn't you just haul off and bash her?" Why? Because it's the wrong thing to do perhaps? Because violence isn't the answer?

Time for an attitude change across the board.

Anonymous said...

Of course there's always the laziness of the police who not only automatically decide that the woman is in the right, they don't look at the evidence right in front of them.

Take the case in point. The guy has a knife wound, black eye, probable other injuries, she doesn't have a mark on her.

Having worked in the DV field before I saw quite a few of these type of scenarios where the bloke is the victim, and the police didn't see what was in front of their own noses.

One particular case was a guy was beaten up by his partner, she called the cops and claimed he bashed her. Not a mark on her and she was much smaller than him. If he had actually hit her, she wouldn't have got off the floor. Instead he had multiple cuts, a rather nasty concussion (frying pan to the head) and a couple of broken ribs where he was kicked after he hit the floor.

Now anyone actually taking 10 seconds to look at the evidence would have realised what happened and reported it as such. no in this case. Of the 4 police (2 male 2 female) all took the side of the 'little woman' and hauled his butt to the cells. Here's where it gets interesting. While the doc was treating him, he casually asked the question 'if he looks this bad, and he beat her up, how badly injured was she?'.

Here's where it gets interesting. The cops then went back to the house only to find the 'little woman' has a very fresh black eye and her sister had arrived during the police absence.

Now, had the bloke actually caused the black eye, it would have been visible when the police were there the first time. Maybe not black, but certainly visible none the less. This injury was less than an hour old, and since the bloke had been in custody for over 2 hours, there's no way he could have caused it.

What was the outcome? not a clue at this stage becasue this is all the info I saw, but it still proves the point that most people see what they expect to see, and not what's actually in front of them. Police are no exception.

Anonymous said...

A friend of my parents went through the same thing. Got kicked out by his wife (complete surprise) and she would verbally abuse him every time he picked up/dropped off the kids. He described his wife as a different woman overnight. Things got messy when his daughter asked him "Dad, is it true that you touched me when I was little?" He rang her up straight away and told her that he was going to the police if she didn't stop the bull and she was all apologetic and nice. On the way into the house to drop the kids off the next day, he never saw the frying pan coming, absolutly beaned him. He woke up and drove himself to the hospital (all the phones had been removed) and called the police but they wouldn't attend the hospital, didn't believe him. After a while, he got out and went down to the cop shop with his lawyer and reported it, only to be laughed at and asked "aren't you man enough to handle her". His lawyer had a fit and charges were eventually laid but not before she claimed that he had started it, touched the daughter, etc, etc. Eventually the detectives had to interview the children (who had been coached by mum) for sometime, to get the real story. The children were removed not long after they laid charges. But even at the trial, the police prosecution didn't take it that seriously until the judge told him to get his act together.

PimpDaddy said...

This really makes me angry.

Not just the law but society's attitude provides an unethical 'cover' for these women to hide behind.

Automatic presumption of guilt of the man where DM or child sexual abuse is mentioned is what holds these people back from retaliating.

I feel sorry for people in this situation. I know for me the frying pan would fly back towards its thrower at excessive speed.

The Regional Support Clerk said...

And sadly PD, you'd end up in gaol. In these situations, where the DV is directed towards guys, it's the retailator who gets punished, not the perpetuator.

It's a real problem and one that needs to be addressed properly. I live for the day where domestic violence towards ANYONE is eliminated and/or punished properly - that's DV towards women, men and especially children, and that's DV in any form, be it physical, mental or memotional abuse.