The implications and severity of domestic violence have been highlighted on a national stage over the past month, as Queensland works to recover from a series of devastating attacks.
In just one week, it’s alleged three Queenslanders died at the hands of their supposed lovers, contributing to the 66 domestic violence related deaths this year.
Of those 66 people a staggering 62 of them were female, and as the government urgently works towards eliminating family violence from our society, the debate on whether males are being ignored lurks in the background.
According to the Executive Officer for Rape and Domestic Violence Services in Australia, Karen Willis, despite the fact one in 20 of those who experience domestic violence are men, it is reasonable for the focus to remain on women.
“[Primarily] it is women and children who experience violence and more overwhelmingly it is the men who are the offenders,” Ms Willis said.
“I’m not suggesting that violence against men doesn’t happen, of course it does, but it is actually really rare.”
With the physical association to domestic violence equating to less than 20% of the overall process, Ms Willis is adamant gender inequity is a key factor causing domestic violence.
“It actually isn’t about physical power… Domestic violence is about power and control and it aims to hurt, humiliate, undermine and intimidate,” Ms Willis said.
Being subjected to domestic violence as a child, it wasn’t until Jane* began engaging in relationships of her own that she realised everyone had a right to feel safe.
“As a kid I watched my mum physically abuse my dad but because females are considered the less dominant sex it was deemed okay,” Jane said.
“Over the years I’ve noticed this misconception society has, that male victims must be aggravating the situation, that they’ve instigated it and therefore deserve it, and that they’re physically stronger.”
With the emphasis of current task forces and domestic violence related plans skewed towards men always being the perpetrators, Jane is adamant that the gender war has to end.
“Violence is violence irregardless of gender and this small but significant number of men need the same support as women,” Jane said.
“We need to stop perpetuating this notion that women are the only victims, because this is purely false.”
According to the ‘One in Three’ campaign which advocates for men subjected to domestic violence, up to one in three victims of both sexual assault and family violence are male.
Director of Mens Rights Agency, Sue Price believes domestic violence against men is an inherent problem where it is ingrained into men that they need to have broad shoulders and cop everything on the chin.
“We can say quite categorically that one in three victims of domestic violence are male,” Ms Price said.
The availability of resources for men are undeniably scarce with certain logistics preventing men from reporting.
“You’ve got to accept that if men do attempt to report their abuse, police will often tell them to go away because they’re men and they can handle it,” Ms Price said.
“Gender disparity in domestic violence needs to be ignored.
“I’d like to see consistent services to help men through the processes of overcoming domestic violence.”
Relationships Australia Venue Manager Sonya Kupfer, believes that the ‘One in Three’ campaign is an inaccurate representation of the issue.
“The information [provided by One in Three] has been taken out of context and used to perpetuate a belief that is not in actuality,” Ms Kupfer said.
“These men who are jumping up and down screaming ‘what about us’ are perpetuating an entitlement that men have had for years.
“Men aren’t getting the same service because statistically speaking there are so few of them that require it.”
Mens Rights Agency spokesperson, Sue Price detailed an encounter she had with a mother of three boys after one of her sons tried to lodge a complaint about a female perpetrator.
Seeking help in the same manner as females, her son reported the incidents to the police but faced enormous difficulty when trying to get them to action anything on his behalf.
“They spent hours [at the police station] until someone listened and took notice,” Ms Price said.
“The [sons] child was also in danger so they then went to child safety and the man there didn’t want to accept that men could be a victim of domestic violence.”
In order to tackle the stigma of men and domestic violence Ms Price wants to see the gender war eradicated.
“Until we do that and take note of the other side of the story nothing will be resolved,” Ms Price said.
“Men are told to brush it off and ignore it but there comes a time when that happens day in, day out and they can’t deal with it any longer.
“We’ve been doing this for 21 years and are one of the few people that will talk to men and listen to their story.”
Relationships Australia is a not for profit organisation that intends to provide support to all Australians while endeavouring to garner positive and respectful relationships.
They are not however funded to work with men.
“We are funded very clearly and definitively by the Queensland Government to deal only with women as victims and men as perpetrators so we don’t see any men who are victims come forward,” Venue Manager Sonya Kupfer said.
“Men are subject to violence, there’s no doubt about that.
“But it is very difficult for a woman to hold power over a man… If you hit a man he is physically stronger than you so that power imbalance always remains with the man.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a series of recommendations from Dame Quentin Bryce’s ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ report will be fast tracked following the influx of public domestic violence related deaths last month.
The framework for wide ranging legal, social and cultural change will see the introduction of 300 body worn cameras for Gold Coast police and tougher penalties on perpetrators.
Irregardless of the gender bias debate, all parties appear eager to see these implemented.
“The outcome of the ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ commissioned report is gender neutral,” Ms Kupfer said.
“That is violence in any form, whether between a man and a woman, two men, two women, children, is not acceptable.
“Violence in any form is unacceptable.”
If you, or anybody you know is in danger please consider calling 1800 RESPECT and they can assist in getting you to safety.
*Names have been changed to protect people experiencing or who have experienced domestic violence.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence in any capacity you should reach out for support.
In an emergency dial 000