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"[T]the only programs for men were for anger management."
April 30, 2013 3:48 AM   Subscribe

The Men's Alternative Safe House in Calgary was the only shelter in Canada dedicated to helping battered men and their children. Lacking any other source of facilities or funding, Earl Silverman -- himself a survivor of an abusive marriage -- ran the shelter out of his own pocket and his own home, until mounting bills forced him to give up. The Men's Alternative Safe House closed last month, and Silverman announced he would have to sell his home.

Domestic violence isn't just a women's issue; although lifetime prevalence rates show a larger gap, studies looking at violence experienced over more recent time periods tend to show roughly equal rates of men and women as victims of domestic violence. In the United States, for example, the first National Violence Against Women Survey (PDF) estimated that 0.9% of American men and 1.3% of American women had been physically assaulted by an intimate partner in the twelve months prior to the survey. More recent research also indicates that among younger adults, women may now commit the majority of non-reciprocal partner violence. Canadian statistics show similar parity; a 2009 survey estimated 6% of Canadian men and 6.4% of Canadian women had experienced spousal violence within the previous five years.

Agencies and shelters which will actually help male victims of domestic violence are still relatively rare, and face uphill battles; similar to MASH's situation as the only men's shelter in Canada, for many years, Valley Oasis in California was the only shelter in the United States which offered services to all victims regardless of gender. Former director Patricia Overberg reported that she faced abuse and obstruction (PDF) from operators of women-only shelters as a result of Valley Oasis' policies.

Meanwhile, outcomes for men who speak up or seek help are not encouraging. A survey of male victims' experiences in seeking help (PDF) found that 78% of men who contacted domestic violence agencies and 63% of men who contacted hotlines were told "We only help women." In many cases, staff attempted to refer them to programs for abusive men or otherwise accused them of being the real abusers. Among male victims who called police, only 26% reported that their abuser was arrested; 33% of male victims who called police reported being arrested themselves.

Some progress is being made, however. Stop Abuse For Everyone (SAFE) maintains advice pamphlets for victims, including two targeted specifically to male victims, as well as a list of worldwide resources for abused men. In 2008, a California appeals court found constitutional problems with the state's domestic-violence grant system, which exclusively funded women-only programs. And the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act is gender-neutral with respect to grants, although government agencies with power over grant money have been known to pre-emptively forbid funding research into violence committed against men.

But any progress, at this point, will come too late for Earl Silverman. After shutting down his shelter and selling his house, on Friday Earl Silverman killed himself.
posted by ubernostrum (108 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:52 AM on April 30, 2013


Couple points worth making outside of the FPP itself:

Yes, the intro link is to the National Post. Couldn't find anyone less conservative covering that portion of the story. There are more recent versions of the Canadian DV survey, but they don't seem to provide the same information; now, the gender breakdown is by police reports, which is problematic since many men don't call the police (for a variety of reasons, ranging from social stigma to the fact that, well, they tend to get arrested for that). Similarly, useful US numbers are somewhat tricky to obtain, but I figured the VAW survey is nothing if not reputable.

I went back and forth over whether to also mention Erin Pizzey (who's highlighted in the HuffPo link). Though she's certainly a notable figure on this issue, as the founder of the first women's shelter in the UK and now a vocal advocate for gender-neutral DV services, her particular brand of anti-feminist politics (she is now editor-at-large of a prominent men's-rights site) seemed like too much of a derail waiting to happen.

Denise Hines and Emily Douglas conducted the survey of men seeking help; Hines is now running another survey. If it's relevant to you or to someone you know, instructions on how to participate are on her website.
posted by ubernostrum at 3:55 AM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


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posted by SpannerX at 3:59 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


My experience with women's shelters in Canada is that they are minimally funded, staff are low-paid (especially compared to their education), rely VERY heavily on donations (cash and in-kind) and extensive volunteers. Because so many women have had domestic violence touch their lives they want to act in ways to prevent others from experiencing what they did. They donate despite lower disposable incomes and volunteer while juggling child are and domestic responsibilities. I think it is perfectly reasonable for people to choose to direct their efforts towards causes they personally believe in, especially if it affects a group they identify with - even if other causes also have equal needs. Although his focus seems to be on the lack of government support, it is also a lack of support, donations, and volunteers from other men that seem to have led to the close of his shelter.
posted by saucysault at 4:13 AM on April 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


There is very little awareness of these issues among men, and the loudest group that shouts about it is the hate filled MRA fringe that poisons the well on any of the legitimate issues they touch because they are more concerned with being angry at feminists than working for positive change. It's not much shock donations didn't fly in.

Shelter should be funded by the government, for anyone who needs it, for at the very least a short period of time. Charity can't provide for all the needs here any more than it can for healthcare.

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posted by Drinky Die at 4:25 AM on April 30, 2013 [31 favorites]


More recent research also indicates that among younger adults, women may now commit the majority of non-reciprocal partner violence.

This just jumped out at me, since I keep seeing (anecdotal) stories about how young women are getting more violent.

If it's the only place in Calgary for such, it seems like a worthy thing to fund.
posted by Mezentian at 4:28 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 4:28 AM on April 30, 2013


Yeah while any lack of charity giving is an interesting story I strongly disagree that government programs should be hung out to dry because there wasn't enough charity giving. DV shelters for men should absolutely get sufficient government dollars to stay open.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:30 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


It is tragic that anyone can't get the help they need, and violence hotlines definitely need to address the lack of support for male victims. Even people who are skeptical about men being abused by women (I believe it happens) can acknowledge at least that men in gay relationships will face this problem and need resources.

The problems often arise from sheltering..women abused by men are not going to feel safe around men, and there is a history of male abusers trying to gain access to shelters. But a separate shelter is expensive, and underfunded programs often feel like helping abused men is beyond their mission.

If only the fired-up MRA's who do often yell about this situation used more of their energy to fund these programs and less to try to attack or shut down programs that help women. A dynamic that also makes it less likely for women shelter supporters to get involved.
posted by emjaybee at 4:32 AM on April 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


In Dan Pallotta's Uncharitable, he makes a great point about how difficult it is to run a charity devoted to a cause with a social stigma, such as suicide prevention, or in this case, support for male victims of domestic violence. Silverman was brave to swim against the tide.

...

I think it is perfectly reasonable for people to choose to direct their efforts towards causes they personally believe in, especially if it affects a group they identify with - even if other causes also have equal needs.

Sure, and that's why we can't rely on charity for everything, but that does not excuse, or even explain, victims being referred to organizations for abusers.

...

Even people who are skeptical about men being abused by women (I believe it happens) can acknowledge at least that men in gay relationships will face this problem and need resources.

Someone who disbelieves in female-on-male domestic violence is not being skeptical, but credulous. That person is buying into a cultural narrative about big strong men who are pussies if they whine about being slapped. I find it unspeakably weird that we could even talk about believing or not believing in in female-on-male domestic violence - it's not as if we talk about believing or not believing in mangoes. It clearly does happen.

I agree that men should not be allowed in a women's shelter, for obvious reasons, but there should be support elsewhere.

If only the fired-up MRA's who do often yell about this situation used more of their energy to fund these programs and less to try to attack or shut down programs that help women. A dynamic that also makes it less likely for women shelter supporters to get involved.

Alternatively, this could become an issue for people other than MRAs, who are indeed otherwise obnoxious.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:42 AM on April 30, 2013 [30 favorites]


Someone who disbelieves in female-on-male domestic violence is not being skeptical, but credulous. That person is buying into a cultural narrative about big strong men who are pussies if they whine about being slapped.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:42 PM on April 30


I can vouch for the fact that it happens from personal experience, and it can be a lot more than just being slapped, inexcusable as that is. I was punched, kicked and, in one memorable incident, shoved clean through a (closed) window. Part of the problem you face as a man in this situation is that you can't hit back, as you would do if another man attacked you. Well, I suppose you could but boy, you'd be in the shit then, wouldn't you? All you can reasonably do is cover up as best you can and get out as soon as you can.
posted by Decani at 4:55 AM on April 30, 2013 [35 favorites]


I can vouch for the fact that it happens from personal experience, and it can be a lot more than just being slapped, inexcusable as that is.

Oh, absolutely. I'm extremely sorry that you were ever put in that situation. And of course, mere "slapping" can actually be just as damaging as being literally punched, but that's getting away from the point.

I just phrased it as "slapping" because many people imagine that kind of DV to be just, you know, a 98-pound girl lightly slapping a guy across the face, i.e. not a real problem, not worth complaining about.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:58 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If only the fired-up MRA's who do often yell about this situation used more of their energy to fund these programs and less to try to attack or shut down programs that help women.

It's neat how the Men's Rights, Straight Rights, and White Rights movements are not about advancing their groups but about assaulting all other groups.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:00 AM on April 30, 2013 [21 favorites]


I'm extremely sorry that you were ever put in that situation.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:58 PM on April 30


Cheers. It was a long time ago, but was certainly a life lesson that stuck with me.
posted by Decani at 5:07 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


The early stages of most social movements attract angry people who want to smash the system that oppresses them. I can just remember when otherwise quite reasonable people would say that feminists were a bunch of man-haters; and they were partially right; there were certainly a lot of very angry women there; but it wasn't just man-haters and it wasn't about hating men. All politics is personal, as they say, and there's not much point telling a man subjected to institutional bias that men as a class are significantly advantaged.

Anyway, this thread is about someone who apparently did try to "advance his group", and there's no reason to go off on a tangent about hypothetical other people whose false consciousness leads them to identify women's shelters and Family Law courts as the agents of their oppression.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:24 AM on April 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


Are shelters the best way to help men that are survivors of DV? By his own numbers, he only helped 20 men in 3 years. The 2010 server said that onsnapshot day over 200 women were turn away from shelters due to a lack of space. Meanwhile, assuming he had only two beds in his shelter, he was on average providing 6 months of housing per adult (far in excess of the 11 days most shelters provide). I can see how government funding bodies would think his shelter was not an efficient use of money (it is cheaper to house more people for a shorter period of time). Most women end up in shelters because their economic disadvantage in the workforce, childcare/eldercare and domestic responsibilities and lack of resources result having the shelter as a last (and only) option. There is simply not the same number of men outside the paid workforce looking after their children that are also surviving DVand need a bed for the night. The other resources are not gender specific, such as social assistance, job search help, psychologists, child care subsidies etc.
posted by saucysault at 5:24 AM on April 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


government agencies with power over grant money have been known to pre-emptively forbid funding research into violence committed against men.

What a completely wrong, and unhelpfully inflammatory characterization, ubernostrum. The agency (in that case, the National Institute of Justice) was offering a grant for a specific issue to be studied. One of countless grants that it offers. Offering a grant for a specific issue to be studied is not in any way "forbidding funding" to study other issues as part of different grants. It's simply saying this specific grant is for something else.

Here's a similar NIJ solicitation for proposals, this one about research into white collar crime. It too has a "what will not be funded" section. In this proposal, "what will not be funded" includes "proposals related to child pornography." Ohnoes!! Does that mean the GOVERNMENT is FORBIDDING FUNDING research into child pornography?!?!

This is my big problem with these r/MensRights copypasta kinds of posts, here and elsewhere. They never come from a totally honest place. They always involve blatantly dishonest mischaracterizations of the "proof" they're offering. They offer cherry-picked and skewed statistics. They compare apples and oranges, like this:

More recent research also indicates that among younger adults, women may now commit the majority of non-reciprocal partner violence.

Here's 1 of the 2 questions that were actually asked in that study: "How often in the past year have you threatened your partner with violence, pushed or shoved him/her, or thrown something at him/her that could hurt.” So if you said to someone "You ate my last donut! I am going to kick your butt!" that's lumped in with people who are throwing vacuum cleaners at each other.

That study also specifically says, multiple times, "Some have suggested that survey studies, such as this one, likely exclude the more severely abused women typically studied in clinical settings"; and, "perpetrators who were men were more likely to inflict an injury on a partner than were those who were women, regardless of reciprocity status. This replicates findings in the literature at large that women are more likely to be injured by partner violence than are men."

The MRA objective always seems to be to prove that domestic violence impacts men and women equally, that women (or, excuse me, the "vaginocracy") are the real abusers, and that at minimum, an equal amount of DV resources should be diverted to men. That's the deep dishonesty that gets under my skin.

Let's not beat around the bush. Women need more DV resources because they are most likely to be maimed or killed by their partners. They need more DV resources because they are more likely to be caring for children who are also at risk of being maimed or killed. They need more DV resources because they are more likely to be financially reliant on the abuser; because they are more likely to have no income/very little income.

Why can't we ever start from the truth, in talking about this? Why can't the framing ever simply be that DV resources for men are inadequate for men's needs, which is true? Why does it always have to be all about proving that women are the real abusers or at the very least, equal abusers?

I want men to have the DV resources they need. I want to help them get those resources. But when it becomes all about denying what the reality is for women, and taking away the resources women need out of spite, I start feeling like I need to oppose those people.
posted by cairdeas at 5:24 AM on April 30, 2013 [79 favorites]


Why can't we ever start from the truth, in talking about this? Why can't the framing ever simply be that DV resources for men are inadequate for men's needs, which is true? Why does it always have to be all about proving that women are the real abusers or at the very least, equal abusers?

Because the Men's Rights movement is pro-misogyny, not pro-men.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:27 AM on April 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


Two thoughts:

Pregnant women and women with small children are more vulnerable to abuse.

Abused women often have no job outside the home or family ties because these are the first things that an abuser eliminates in order to dominate his partner. Therefore when a woman needs to escape a bad situation often she has no other resources than a local shelter to help her.

Now I can imagine that a male might face these problems as well, but not nearly in as great a number. So while I can believe the statistic that more women than men hit their partners, I cannot believe the consequences are usually as dire. Undoubtedly there should be safe houses for everybody, but men-only shelters are not needed in as great a number. Presumably the thing for the government to do would be to research the situation and allocate funds accordingly.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:27 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]



Cheers. It was a long time ago, but was certainly a life lesson that stuck with me.

Werd.

If only the fired-up MRA's who do often yell about this situation used more of their energy to fund these programs and less to try to attack or shut down programs that help women. A dynamic that also makes it less likely for women shelter supporters to get involved.

In my experience, MRAs are comprised of a lot of men who did get screwed over by the system - either through poor choices/circumstances on their part, bad lawyers, or just bad law - family court and domestic dispute resolution services have been remarkably lacking given the implications and the number of people affected.

That said, every MRA I ever was in contact with was an odious wasteland of woe is me feminist blaming and little to none actively trying to make the world better for everyone.

I had thought to form a group years ago when I was in the depths of my battle against the system, but I just didn't have the patience and the fortitude to deal with those types of men, and they are numerous.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:30 AM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


It should best be framed in terms of giving temporary shelter to anyone who needs it. While there may not be as many men who are victims of DV, there are a ton of them who are homeless for other reasons. It's not a competition between genders for who needs shelter more, everyone needs it and there are a wide variety of ways you can lose it.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:36 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can vouch for the fact that it happens from personal experience

Me too. People really have no idea what a woman filled with rage can do. Twenty years later I know it still affects me. I have very little tolerance for any shit from anybody that seems even the least bit coercive or controlling because of my experience with it as the first turn on the road to a really bad place.

And it is always harder to GTFO than people realize.
posted by srboisvert at 5:37 AM on April 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


Are shelters the best way to help men that are survivors of DV? By his own numbers, he only helped 20 men in 3 years. The 2010 server said that onsnapshot day over 200 women were turn away from shelters due to a lack of space. Meanwhile, assuming he had only two beds in his shelter, he was on average providing 6 months of housing per adult (far in excess of the 11 days most shelters provide). I can see how government funding bodies would think his shelter was not an efficient use of money (it is cheaper to house more people for a shorter period of time). Most women end up in shelters because their economic disadvantage in the workforce, childcare/eldercare and domestic responsibilities and lack of resources result having the shelter as a last (and only) option. There is simply not the same number of men outside the paid workforce looking after their children that are also surviving DVand need a bed for the night. The other resources are not gender specific, such as social assistance, job search help, psychologists, child care subsidies etc.

The two beds were the number of shelter beds available to men elsewhere in the province. 20 men over three years is six men a year. I suppose it's unclear whether '20 men have passed through' means 20 men have used the shelter's services in some way or 20 men have slept there.

I'm not sure where you're going with this. Yes, it's likely that, for the reasons you stated, there will be greater need for shelter provision for women than for men until we reach some sexism-less utopia. It doesn't follow that a lack of provision for male victims of domestic violence isn't a problem. It's a pity this shelter closed independent of whether it was the best shelter it could be because it was the only one in the area. I'm not sure how 'Oh, we've only got one shelter and it's not the most efficient' leads to 'Just as well it closed.' rather than 'Perhaps we could make it more efficient'.
posted by hoyland at 5:38 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


From the lead article, apparently based on what Silverman said:
If a man is abused, “where does he go for support? If he calls the police, studies have shown that there’s an 80% chance that he’ll be arrested...."
I don't know what studies he's referring to, but surely this is a really scary statistic, if true, and it could probably explain a fair degree of under-reporting.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:45 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


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posted by yaymukund at 5:54 AM on April 30, 2013


What a completely dishonest, unhelpfully inflammatory characterization, ubernostrum.

Well, let's see what they're soliciting for:
NIJ is seeking proposals to gain research knowledge that will serve to increase victim safety and improve justice system and related responses to intimate partner violence and stalking. Research is sought on predisposition revictimization (victimization that occurs between arrest and case disposition); victim safety and protection; programs and policies to hold offenders accountable; law enforcement, prosecution, and judicial responses; coordinated community responses; and effective responses in diverse communities.
And in their goal to gain that research knowledge, what are they unwilling to fund? "Proposals for research on intimate partner violence against, or stalking of, males of any age or females under the age of 12.". This seems very clear to me; if you want to study and gain knowledge on domestic violence, starting from a position of excluding more than half the population (since they exclude not just men, but also young girls) from your research seems a poor way to do so. If you find this dishonest, perhaps you could elaborate?

So if you said to someone "You ate my last donut! I am going to kick your butt!" that's lumped in with people who are throwing vacuum cleaners at each other.

For someone who's concerned with dishonesty and starting from the truth, you seem to hyperbolize quite well.

I want men to have the DV resources they need. I want to help them get those resources. But when it becomes all about denying what the reality is for women, and taking away the resources women need out of spite, I start feeling like I need to oppose those people.

I do not know you, but your reply here does not indicate to me that you want any of those things. Especially since you just threw out a whole bunch of accusations that don't seem to be anywhere in the FPP, or even implied in it, and mostly relied on name-calling and attempts to lump me in with some group you don't like. But the fact that you seem to see this as a threat to women speaks volumes about the issues abused men face in speaking up and getting help.

To be perfectly honest, the single worst part of this is the simple fact that abused men have to learn to walk on eggshells around their partners, and then when they get out of the abusive situation -- if they get out -- they then have two options. Option one is to keep their mouths shut the rest of their lives. Option two is to learn how to walk on eggshells all over again, because if they don't they will be subjected to responses like yours when they try to speak up.
posted by ubernostrum at 5:56 AM on April 30, 2013 [26 favorites]


Let's not beat around the bush. Women need more DV resources because they are most likely to be maimed or killed by their partners. They need more DV resources because they are more likely to be caring for children who are also at risk of being maimed or killed. They need more DV resources because they are more likely to be financially reliant on the abuser; because they are more likely to have no income/very little income.

So white male here. Let me just swing my massive invisible knapsack on the floor beside me before I say something that I hope isn't too misguided.

Isn't focusing on death and injury though sometimes besides the point? In the same way that defining rape only as violent sexual assault can actually harm the cause?

I am not generally familiar with what's being referred to as MRA here, and I can only imagine how, *ahem*, mixed of a crowd they might be. Nevertheless, I do think it's progress to point out, if it is indeed the case, that we have to seperate issues: Are men stronger then women, and are men more violent then women?

The first point is on average going to be true, and hence shapes these debates importantly. Yes, in instances of men being abusers, there is a greater risk of physical harm or even death, and that's very important. Nevertheless, this is somewhat distinct from saying that men are more violent, and what I think that study was about was just that point.

When violence is being used for emotional control, the actual physical damage being inflicted is going to be relatively secondary. If it is the case that women are as prone as men to violence in relationships, this is an important truth worth knowing. And if men are especially unable to protect themselves in these situations, then this is especially unjust.

I think a lot of progress could be made if sexism wasn't generally characterized as men opressing women. Yes, on average we have the largest invisible knapsacks, and thus we are in many ways especially responsible for effecting change (despite often not being inclined to). Men being on average physically dominant does indeed make them more responsible then woman for modertaing violence. But again, there are multiple issues at stake here. Characterizing sexism as men being active opressers and women victims, is counterproductive when the reality is that there's a whole network of social norms that has most if not all of us in its thrall.

Men are told not to cry. Men are often not trusted around children. When men are genuine victims of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, they often have fewer resources to deal with it. Now if someone told me that we only had so many resources to combat sexism, and that the issues facing women are independent of those facing men, then I would understand that we should help women first (or help minorities, homosexuals, etc...). But I don't think that's the case. A lot of these MRA people seem fueled by the idea that feminism is antagonistic to their (ostensible) cause. But that is also not the case.

We're all in this together.
posted by Alex404 at 6:05 AM on April 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


If a man is abused, “where does he go for support? If he calls the police, studies have shown that there’s an 80% chance that he’ll be arrested...."

I don't know stats, but I got involved in a case where DV allegations were enough in the line of work to result in suspensions from work. Both worked for the same employer. The wife had irrational jealosy and would hit the man and son and she called local police (in another jurisdiction) to get the husband in trouble. The husband was told he had to leave and he feared for the son and he brought the son to the cops and lifted the son's shirt to show scars. The wife was taken into custody. She'd been investigated multiple times for child abuse.

This is real stuff. Where we really fall down involves the kids. Women are responsible for tons of physical, emotional and mental abuse against male and female children and it isn't being reported enough. Whatever the stuff for men, its kids of all genders who need to be protected from either parent and that is where we are falling down.

And it begets violence. Kids who have beatings modeled to them as a way to cope with anger will often engage in that behavior themselves.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:06 AM on April 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


I can just remember when otherwise quite reasonable people would say that feminists were a bunch of man-haters

Yeah, I remember it like it was yesterday. Because it was. Today, too.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:07 AM on April 30, 2013 [20 favorites]


You know men don't need shelters. After all, if there is a DV report, the police always kick the woman out of her house and leave the man with the kids, right?

Of course not. But you know, the woman that's going to throw a fit and smack her husband/boyfriend is also the one that's going to kick him out of the house. What's he supposed to do? Get a hotel? So he makes the money, he's still got a house with kids to support, whether his wife is being a demon or not. Even if she's just a girlfriend, dude still probably has every dollar of income budgeted. Now he's got the expense of an unexpected relocation?

And that old idea that men are the bigger earners, is that even true in lower income brackets? I've sure seen plenty of women working at good jobs with husbands that were unemployed. And in that part of the social spectrum, the attitudes are vastly worse for a man to admit to being abused by his wife.

And we don't even need to begin on gay relationships. I've been in that situation myself. It was shit! There wasn't any help to be had, either. (It was 30 years ago. Oh fuck I'm old).
posted by Goofyy at 6:10 AM on April 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


Joe in Australia: "From the lead article, apparently based on what Silverman said:
If a man is abused, “where does he go for support? If he calls the police, studies have shown that there’s an 80% chance that he’ll be arrested...."
I don't know what studies he's referring to, but surely this is a really scary statistic, if true, and it could probably explain a fair degree of under-reporting.
"

I can support that anecdotaly. I know someone locked himself in a home office to escape his wife's rage and called the police for help. He left in a police car.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:17 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure how 'Oh, we've only got one shelter and it's not the most efficient' leads to 'Just as well it closed.' rather than 'Perhaps we could make it more efficient'.

My point was that the shelter was clearly not addressing the needs of his target population (male survivors of DV) since there was such a low uptake. Any social services agency that serves only 20 people in three years is clearly either not matching their services to the needs of that population or imagining there is a greater need then there is in reality. Making his shelter more efficient (adding beds, reducing length of stay) isn't actually helpful to the people seeking help if they are (for example) looking for therapy and instead offered just a place to sleep. More empty beds are not more efficent; putting male survivors up in hotels temporarily while addressing their real needs (employment, therapy, whatever the client identifies) is more efficent.

The StatCan study mentioned 8% of the users of DV shelters are men, it would be interesting to have that broken down more. Are male survivors needing immediate housing instead using the regular homeless shelters (which are mostly geared to men, with very few spaces for women and children)? Is the smaller numbers of male DV survivors in the DV shelter system because of a lack of resources or are male survivors simply not identifying emergency housing as one of their primary needs while recovering?

The problem he was trying to address was assisting male survivors of DV, and he decided that housing male survivors was the solution (probably based on his ability to provide) but maybe the clients themselves had different needs like access to legal resources, free child care, support groups etc. As far as I can tell, it was a normal residential house and his expenses should have been reasonable. Anyone staying with him long-term would be either working or recieving government aid which would have allowed them to contribute to their own expenses if they were there long term. But it appears he could not afford to support himself or provide the free services he was offering and he found that frustrating (he sounds very empathetic; feeling helpless in the face of other people's needs must have been overwhelming). In social services it is incredibly important to put one's own oxygen mask on first - his giving nature meant he was probably running on empty for a very long time. It is such a shame his efforts could not have been directed in another, sustainable way to help the population he identified with.
posted by saucysault at 6:25 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


The mission statement was (emphasis added): "to reduce family violence through community education and the introduction of a formal support system for men."

I think there was an understanding he wasn't going to be able to make much of a dent and was just trying to lay down a foundation that might have been built on. Must have felt frustrated and hopeless when even that fell apart.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:33 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why can't we ever start from the truth, in talking about this? Why can't the framing ever simply be that DV resources for men are inadequate for men's needs, which is true? Why does it always have to be all about proving that women are the real abusers or at the very least, equal abusers?

It's a funny thing - every man I've talked to about domestic violence has at one time been hit or slapped by a partner. Every one.

Hell, it's grist for jokes on sitcoms - guy does something wacky, and the woman throws a plate at him. Haha! Domestic Violence is HILARIOUS.

Anyway, granted, that's maybe a couple dozen guys. And yeah, that team will never win at the Outrage Olympics.

I've been waiting 20 years for people to come around on women's capability for violence. Maybe in another 20, the framing will be right.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:35 AM on April 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


My mom was abusive to both me and my father. When it got really loud or bad, neighbors would call the cops. The first thing they did, every time, was handcuff my dad. Then they would ask if my mom wanted to press charges. Then they would leave. I don't know if he would have taken advantage of any resources if they were made available to him. He still doesn't consider him to have been abused, even after the attack in the hospital. I think what is needed most is acknowledgement, awareness, and the dismantling of the notions that only men are abusers and that men who need help.
posted by Garm at 6:36 AM on April 30, 2013 [21 favorites]


ubernostrom: This seems very clear to me; if you want to study and gain knowledge on domestic violence, starting from a position of excluding more than half the population (since they exclude not just men, but also young girls) from your research seems a poor way to do so. If you find this dishonest, perhaps you could elaborate?

As you wish... very simply, even if you feel that using one specific grant to study only one group of people and not another group is a poor way to gain knowledge of a topic, the agency offering that grant is still not forbidding funding of research on that topic.

Especially since you just threw out a whole bunch of accusations that don't seem to be anywhere in the FPP... But the fact that you seem to see this as a threat to women speaks volumes about the issues abused men face in speaking up and getting help.

Every single statistic you provided about male vs. female rates of domestic violence victimization included an explanation of how it showed that men and women were victimized equally or that women were the more frequent perpetrators. As far is that not seeming to be anywhere in the FPP, I refer you to the entire first paragraph of the post, under the fold.

Option two is to learn how to walk on eggshells all over again, because if they don't they will be subjected to responses like yours when they try to speak up.

If you feel like my disagreeing or challenging some of the things you are saying is re-victimizing you or abusing you myself, I don't know what to tell you. I don't think disagreeing with you is abusing you. I don't think you disagreeing with me is abusing me.

I would much rather talk about how we can get everyone the DV resources they need than oppose each other.
posted by cairdeas at 6:40 AM on April 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


The problem is not with acknowledging that man-victimizing DV exists, it's with the people who demand that it be treated as being at least as common as woman-victimizing DV.

Feminists have been working to get support for DV victims, both female AND male, for decades. That society is more inclined to provide such services for women is no more misandry than the fact that the draft is men-only is.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:48 AM on April 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I would much rather talk about how we can get everyone the DV resources they need than oppose each other.

So let's do that.

Sexism absolutely hurts lots of men and this is one example, as others have said, because it constructs a narrative where every man is stronger than every woman and thus never at real risk from her (unless she has a gun perhaps). But certainly not from DV.

So, again: what do male victims of DV need?

I'm going to make number 1: to be taken seriously and listened to. Which doesn't mean buying anything from an MRA group, but like we're doing here; guys coming forward and sharing their stories.

Would other things include:

-shelters
-legal recognition of their status as victims/protection from prosecution when reporting abuse
-counseling specifically directed at them

What else?

In the past, I've been angry enough about the MRA stuff to be dismissive, and also to (unfairly) take the attitude that women had to get DV help all on their own and why should we help men? Which I suspect is not actually all true, in that there have always been male allies to feminism, and for their sake if for no other reason, I do have a duty to support men seeking help with DV.

And then of course, there are plenty of people who fall on different places on the gender spectrum; by defintion, a system designed only to help females with abuse from males is going to leave them out, too.
posted by emjaybee at 6:51 AM on April 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


You know how everyone gets critical when people suggests that feminists are too angry and aren't doing whatever it is right? You know how ticked off Mefi gets whenever someone trots out the "If they would just be less angry, we would listen. If they were more constructive, they could get the things they need."

Guess what's going on here. Guess.
posted by adipocere at 6:52 AM on April 30, 2013 [23 favorites]


That society is more inclined to provide such services for women is no more misandry than the fact that the draft is men-only is.

I think a better way of saying that would be that both are examples of double-standards inherent in the dominant gender narrative, which remains heavily patriarchal. I'm not sure if you are saying that or not.
posted by gauche at 6:53 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hell, it's grist for jokes on sitcoms - guy does something wacky, and the woman throws a plate at him. Haha! Domestic Violence is HILARIOUS.

There's something to this point. There's a weird acceptance of women "slapping" men or throwing things at them in our popular culture, at least in the U.S. I think that needs to stop. I remember my mom throwing dinner plates at my dad. Fortunately, she missed, but they were big and heavy. It was really scary for me as a kid. It wasn't at all funny or harmless. It was violent and abusive behavior.
posted by Area Man at 6:56 AM on April 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


If you feel like my disagreeing or challenging some of the things you are saying is re-victimizing you or abusing you myself, I don't know what to tell you. I don't think disagreeing with you is abusing you. I don't think you disagreeing with me is abusing me.

I wouldn't use the word abuse, cairdeas, but I feel you were a little more aggressive towards him than you needed to be in your first post. All that stuff about dishonesty and wanting to prove woman are the real abusers and divert funds from women to men is definitely present in the MRA perspective but I don't think that is the perspective he is coming from.

I think he did his best to frame this honestly but unfortunately tread upon some of the bad stats the MRAs put out there. That is the poisoning of the well I mentioned upthread, when you try and talk about these issues you unintentionally pick up the MRA stink because they present distorted stats that filter into the media and act like shitheads.

Feminists have been working to get support for DV victims, both female AND male, for decades.

And that's a very good thing, but unfortunately the support for men hasn't materialized as much as it needs to yet. Plenty of work to be done for both genders. Equal funding probably isn't the sweet spot, but male victims do need a lot more funding and attention than they get now.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:56 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, perhaps we could save some of the anti-MRA discussion for another place? Sure these issues are brought up by MRAs, but that doesn't make it "r/MensRights copypasta" or mean this about men "demanding" DV resources be split 50/50. This post is about a guy who committed suicide and a problem that probably contributed to it. Shrouding the problem's existence with a MRA-bogeyman costume seems rather disrespectful of Silverman's experience.
posted by 0 at 6:58 AM on April 30, 2013 [29 favorites]


Feminists have been working to get support for DV victims, both female AND male, for decades.

I don't think that's the case. Granted, there is sort of a no-true-scotsman thing in the term "feminists". So maybe depending on which feminists you mean and so on.

Anyway, it runs contrary to my experience - the amount of support available to her on her say-so was staggering; housing, counselling, legal advice... I had to hire a lawyer, and was advised to leave the kid behind and absolutely make sure the child support arrived on time.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:04 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Interestingly enough, Alberta's Human Services pages specifically lists various resources for male survivors of DV. It is probably not enough, but the problem does not appear to be completely ignored as Mr Silverman presented, and, at least officially, it is on the radar and being funded.

His main complaint seemed to be that the Federal and Provincial governments were not funding his shelter, however the main source of funding for Canadian women's shelters remains municipalities and donations, with the Province stepping up when a critical mass of donations have been made. That lack of funding does not appear to be discrimination based on gender as much as discrimination based on being serving survivors of DV. I am also unfamiliar with any women's shelters in Canada that are also a private residence; it could be perceived that he was looking for funding to pay his mortgage and/or salary without being a proper non-profit (where the proceeds of the sale of the house would go back into the organisation and not his own pocket). I have no direct knowledge of that; it is just an assumption; but combined with the cost of upgrading his home to the various codes to reduce the funding organisation's liability I wonder if he was not quite following (or aware of) accepted protocol.
posted by saucysault at 7:08 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


saucysault- That makes some sense. It's still tragic that he was in the position of having to try to do this on his own, though.

I get why there's a certain amount of reluctance to deal with this problem, honestly. But it's not really a different, competing issue to providing care for female victims- it's another aspect of the exact same culture, in which men and women both are crammed into highly restricted roles. When people think "men are strong, emotionless and violent by nature, women are submissive and emotional and weak by nature," then male-on-female violence is accepted as 'just how men are, what can you do' and female-on-male violence is dismissed as 'not a big deal, he can take it.' It's THE SAME PROBLEM.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:16 AM on April 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


I agree with moving the MRA discussion elsewhere, but pretending that the sole criticism being leveled against the MRA as a movement is a tone argument about how they're not asking for support nicely enough is incredibly, incredibly disingenuous.

.
posted by Phire at 7:17 AM on April 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


And then of course, there are plenty of people who fall on different places on the gender spectrum; by defintion, a system designed only to help females with abuse from males is going to leave them out, too.

The idea that "women can't be abusers" doesn't just affect men; as said before in the thread, it definitely affects children of all genders and it affects women in romantic relationships with women.

When getting therapy and being told that "well, these are good resources to read but they're old and there's a lot of blaming the patriarchy in here and really no acknowledgement that women can be abusive in these exact same ways, but they're the only resources we have right now" there's still a lot of work to be done. (So much work that I'm afraid to even look if things have changed since I first needed help.)
posted by Electric Elf at 7:31 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know this thread has moved on, but I wanted to say a few words as someone who works in the social service sector in Calgary.

I had some dealings with Earl professionally, and am sorry to hear that he took his own life. The issue he championed was a dearly held passion for him, and I think he moved the discussion forward in several ways here.

That being said, I think it's also fair to say that the relationship between Earl and the social services sector in this city and province was a complex one, and that the issue he cared about was not the sole reason for that complexity.

I think, however, that is likely true of anyone who dedicates their life to a particular cause with the degree of intensity that Earl did.
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:35 AM on April 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


Haha! Domestic Violence is HILARIOUS.

It's a pretty isolated example, but the British soap Coronation Street recently wrapped up a woman-on-man DV storyline that was, in my admittedly ignorant opinion, pretty well done. So attitudes are hopefully changing, somewhat.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:47 AM on April 30, 2013


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: "Hell, it's grist for jokes on sitcoms - guy does something wacky, and the woman throws a plate at him. Haha! Domestic Violence is HILARIOUS."
This. If a show had a man hit a woman, there would be outrage, but I have seen women throwing things at men frequently during prime time.

srboisvert: "And it is always harder to GTFO than people realize."
Too true. It took years for me to build the confidence to leave the situation.

ubernostrum: "Option one is to keep their mouths shut the rest of their lives. Option two is to learn how to walk on eggshells all over again"
Also true. The one person (a woman) I told about my experience (having things throw at me during fights) told me that it wasn't a big deal, and that most women use their words worse than their fists. Sadly, that had also been the case for me.

Ironmouth: "Kids who have beatings modeled to them as a way to cope with anger will often engage in that behavior themselves."
That is how my partner learned it, from her mother.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:48 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I do know one abused man, and one formerly abused man.
The currently abused man did get results calling the police on his wife.
I feel terrible for their little girl.
I used to be close to the wife's mom but dropped he due to the mom dragging me into the drama one too many times.
The formerly abused man I know is Mr. Roquette.
He was helped about as we'll as they could help him, mainly because the woman pulled a gun on him.
A woman who was a room-mate violently attacked a boyfriend multiple times. He was a drunk and on several drugs, but she really was still out of line doing that. He never attacked her or even made a move to defend himself.
Her former husband was an abusive bastard and stupid besides.
In the situation with the boyfriend, I counseled her to break up and to stop hitting people generally.
I am a DV survivor myself. I know men get attacked by women, sometimes very much smaller women.
But, maybe one reason there aren'tDV shelters for men is that there are missions.
No matter how filthy or drunk a man gets, there will be someone who will wipe the puke off him and try to 'save' his soul.
Many of these shelters only help men.
Maybe too there is more of a stereotype that men somehow 'deserve' being hit. Of course that's complete shit. I would only strike a man if he were attacking a child.
But that's just me. I guess there are some crazy women out there.
I don't know how many abused men go to rescue missions, but the option exists. I suspect many abused men wind up homeless.
In the town I live in one small rescue mission appears to be males only, the other one does accommodate single men, single women and families, as well there is a DV shelter/transitional safe houseing for women and children.
There is not enough room in ANY if those places.
Basically just getting out and finding another place to live is a nightmare for ANY abused person. I still say its more of a nightmare for abused women, but the sheer expense of moving is terrible these days.
It's why people stay in impossible situations.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:50 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think he did his best to frame this honestly but unfortunately tread upon some of the bad stats the MRAs put out there.

I feel like pointing out that the cited sources were the US national Violence Against Women survey, Statistics Canada, a team led by a researcher who seems able to hold down a job at the CDC in this field, and a couple of women based at college in the Pacific Northwest.

If all of those people are "MRAs", well, I'm wearing a hat right now and given time to obtain proper condiments I will actually eat it.

Now.

Every single statistic you provided about male vs. female rates of domestic violence victimization included an explanation of how it showed that men and women were victimized equally or that women were the more frequent perpetrators. As far is that not seeming to be anywhere in the FPP, I refer you to the entire first paragraph of the post, under the fold.

And none of this minimizes the effect or severity of violence committed against women, which is what you appear to be claiming. It does, however, make an attempt at overcoming the first major obstacle of talking about violence committed against men, which is getting people to believe that it happens, and that it happens more often than most people -- even most progressive people who believe themselves to be well-informed on DV -- suspect.

The first step, I think I've heard somewhere, is always admitting that there is a problem. Arguing about how much of a problem it is, how much of our attention it deserves, what the causes are, what solutions we could try, what resources to devote to it, are dozens if not hundreds of steps down the road from there. The first step is to say that yes, there is a problem here. And right now we as a society are still stuck on that first step, because people who say there's a problem tend to get shouted down pretty hard. So, you know, maybe we could stop with the doing that?

And yes, the fact that NIJ puts out solicitations like that one is absolutely relevant; the second big obstacle is simply that we have just enough research on violence against men to know there's an issue, but not enough to even begin to evaluate how big an issue it is, how it affects not just individuals but society as a whole, etc., etc.; what we know right now we know almost entirely as a side effect of researching violence against women. And while that is a topic that gets, comparatively, bucketloads of funding, it cannot answer the questions that currently remain unanswered about violence against men. So yes, it is relevant that there is even one case of a broad solicitation for DV research to explicitly exclude those questions.

If you feel like my disagreeing or challenging some of the things you are saying is re-victimizing you or abusing you myself, I don't know what to tell you. I don't think disagreeing with you is abusing you. I don't think you disagreeing with me is abusing me.

I'm going to try a different tack for explaining the problem, then.

You and a lot of other people here seem to be terribly afraid of "the MRAs". Frankly I don't care much one way or the other about that, but here's the thing: when men come forward and try to disclose and talk about issues that affect them, and your response is to more or less immediately come down on them like a ton of bricks -- even if you feel it's justified -- you're not leaving those men a lot of other people to turn to.

That is another downside of the walking-on-eggshells effect that exists in most mainstream spaces.
posted by ubernostrum at 7:53 AM on April 30, 2013 [25 favorites]


There's something to this point. There's a weird acceptance of women "slapping" men or throwing things at them in our popular culture, at least in the U.S. I think that needs to stop.

How many times have you seen a woman on a show or film hit a man repeatedly, then crumple into tears against his chest, while the entire time the man stands there, unmoved? The message being pretty clear, in two parts - "Women are not strong enough to hurt men" and "Men cannot be hurt by women". I think sexism is directly responsible for both of these ideas.
posted by SassHat at 8:01 AM on April 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


Compltely off topic, but just once on TV I'd like to see something bad happen and the man runs hysterically screaming and crying from the room while the woman stoically handles the issue for them.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:04 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Compltely off topic, but just once on TV I'd like to see something bad happen and the man runs hysterically screaming and crying from the room while the woman stoically handles the issue for them.

Any sitcom that's featured a pregnancy has had this scene.

I can't think of any other specific examples, but I feel fairly certain that it's happened before (in particular, spider-killing (Big Bang Theory, maybe?)) -- though it's always played for huuuge laughs: "Oh teh noes, the girl is saving the boy!"
posted by Etrigan at 8:10 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth, I grew up hearing all kinds of stories about how my grandmother would get angry and throw things at my grandfather (a pot of boiling water being the most notable example), and it took me until this very moment to mentally call that abusive and to connect it to my uncle's history of being in horrible relationships with women with whom he regularly got in fights of varying degrees of physicality.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:10 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


As a man who was once briefly in an abusive relationship I know that woman-on-man DV is a thing. In my circumstance, the threat to my well-being was dependent more on my ability to control myself and avoid jail than her ability to cause actual harm through punches and kicks. When she realized she couldn't physically hurt me without a weapon, she moved on to breaking my stuff. I got out of the relationship pretty quick.

Even with this experience, I had to go back and remove the "quotes" from "abusive relationship" in the paragraph above. On some level, the cultural expectations still keep me from considering it actual abuse.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 8:14 AM on April 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


Pure anecdata, but the only DV I am aware of in my immediate family was my grandmother chasing my grandfather around the house with a carving knife. We thought it was funny. In retrospect, not so much.
posted by unSane at 8:16 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Any sitcom that's featured a pregnancy has had this scene.

Yeah I mean more in a serious drama sense. Not every woman will have an over the top screaming reaction to something scary or disturbing, but the men pretty much never do. Pet peeve for another thread though.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:16 AM on April 30, 2013


And then there's this.
posted by unSane at 8:20 AM on April 30, 2013


Someone who disbelieves in female-on-male domestic violence is not being skeptical, but credulous. That person is buying into a cultural narrative about big strong men who are pussies if they whine about being slapped.

Maybe, or perhaps they have encountered abusive men who claim to be victims and are therefore skeptical. My father, for example, will claim that my mother abused him despite the fact that he was clearly the abuser.

There is also skepticism about it being equally deserving of resources and funding because of the way that societal sexism and childbearing/childcare burdens interact to make women especially economically and socially vulnerable.

Then there is the fact that every year, 3 times more women are murdered by intimate partners than men.

These are not reasons to avoid helping men and they obviously do not disprove the existence of domestic violence against men. However, they do point to a a much more complex narrative about the direction of time, resources, grants, and attention than the original post and some of the comments here imply.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:24 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


How many times have you seen a woman on a show or film hit a man repeatedly, then crumple into tears against his chest, while the entire time the man stands there, unmoved? The message being pretty clear, in two parts - "Women are not strong enough to hurt men" and "Men cannot be hurt by women". I think sexism is directly responsible for both of these ideas.

At least the man isn't hitting back, that's something. I wish I'd never seen my mom hit my dad or throw plates at him, but I am glad he didn't respond physically. If anything good came out of those incidents, it was that my dad's actions reinforced what he'd always taught me about non-violence.
posted by Area Man at 8:24 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Compltely off topic, but just once on TV I'd like to see something bad happen and the man runs hysterically screaming and crying from the room while the woman stoically handles the issue for them.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The judge/bazooka scene might qualify, except it's mass panic. I need a refresher.
posted by Tobu at 8:27 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ubernostrum, you should care about the MRAs. If we want this to move forward, the discussion of domestic violence against men needs a better champion than it currently has, which is the MRA movement. But for every stopped-clock-twice-right point they have about domestic violence or suicide rates or college enrollment, there's a mountain of vitriol for stalking and harassing feminists and issuing rape and death threats, and openly and explicitly delighting in trying to ruin women's lives, and yet any man who disagrees with their methodology is a brainwashed wimp who isn't a proper man.

We're scared of the MRA because we've seen their MO, and see how much hatred and misogyny underlies their philosophy. I monitored a few sites for a while for a friend who was getting harassed and threatened so she wouldn't have to. It's stunningly awful. And that means many of us are knee-jerk wary about any talking points that sound like they're coming from the MRA movement, because it starts off with "Did you know that..." and ends with "...and that's why those bitches are fucking us over". The MRAs are the ones who would oppose the VAWA instead of trying to fight for an equivalent VAMA. It's not "hey we need support", it's "if I don't have this no one can".

This isn't fair to you. Nor is it fair to men who really need structural support. I offer this not as an excuse, only as an attempt to explain why this is such an emotional minefield: not because feminists believe it doesn't happen, not because feminists want to mock you for caring about it, but because we've been burned on this before and we don't know where this conversation will go, and still have our defenses up.

Men's rights shouldn't be an oppositional issue. You can talk about DV against men without making it into a feminist conspiracy, or proof that women have invented the patriarchy as an imaginary monster to oppress men. And I think you've done a really good job of that, and this thread is definitely a start.

I want there to be structural support and abuse shelters for men, and also better homeless shelters for women, and a better criminal justice system that knows how to handle intimate partner violence for both genders, and just a functioning goddamn welfare system. This is actually something that my radfem friends talk about a lot. Dismantling sexism and gender roles is in the interests of both men and women and getting everyone the help they need. We need to figure out a way to collaborate on this, and part of that means not letting the MRAs call the shots about what advocacy for men looks like.

So yes, if you care about this--as everyone should--you should indeed also care about what the MRAs so many of us are "scared of" are doing.
posted by Phire at 8:30 AM on April 30, 2013 [22 favorites]


Maybe, or perhaps they have encountered abusive men who claim to be victims and are therefore skeptical. My father, for example, will claim that my mother abused him despite the fact that he was clearly the abuser.

The comment you're responding to was about someone who "disbelieves in female-on-male domestic violence" not about skepticism in one particular case. In any given case there might be plenty of reasons to be skeptical, but if you're being skeptical about the existence of any female-on-male domestic violence, then you're just being a troll.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:32 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or Sunday vs mooks, in S4E01 Freshman. It's harder to think of examples of the good guys flailing around.
posted by Tobu at 8:33 AM on April 30, 2013


Anyway, sorry for contributing to the derail. This is something I spend a lot of time thinking about.

Can someone who is smarter about statistics explain this to me?

...although lifetime prevalence rates show a larger gap, studies looking at violence experienced over more recent time periods tend to show roughly equal rates of men and women as victims of domestic violence.

Why is there a larger gap in lifetime prevalence? Is the idea here that even if the numerical differences between women-victimizing IPV and men-victimizing IPV is small within a short time frame, on aggregate those differences add up? Or is it "recent" as in "within the past several decades" rather than "recently in your life"? Or am I misunderstanding this entirely?
posted by Phire at 8:35 AM on April 30, 2013


I have to say, every time I see the term "survivor" applied, it makes me feel more victimized. It annoys me to an extreme. Like, fuck you. I'm not a "survivor", stuff your drama, kind of feeling. I wonder if other men feel the same way? Perhaps this language we use on the topic seriously doesn't work for men?

Sure, "subject of abuse". Maybe "victim", that at least leaves things open. "Survivor" suggest a threat to my life. Nonsense. I had to cope with my partner, a tough enough man I out-weighed by at least 40 pounds, out-reached, and towered over, plus he was 44 and I was 29. And his mother and sister were at hand, and the sort that would collaborate in a lie.

"Survivor" is all nice and victimy, for those who need that kind of validation. For others, it's just over-the-top.
posted by Goofyy at 8:36 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


How many times have you seen a woman on a show or film hit a man repeatedly, then crumple into tears against his chest, while the entire time the man stands there, unmoved? The message being pretty clear, in two parts - "Women are not strong enough to hurt men" and "Men cannot be hurt by women". I think sexism is directly responsible for both of these ideas.

It's also a textbook case of systemic sexist beliefs about women hurting men as well as women. This isn't meant to imply that there is an equal level of harm to men and women -- rather, that many of the "Men get shafted, too!" things MRAs complain about are also rooted in anti-woman sexism.
posted by verb at 8:51 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am one of the people that has used the term survivor in this thread and I apologise if it offended you. To me, the term victim implies the person is still in that role despite how long ago the abuse happened - basically defining them in a negative, passive term. Survivor, to me, is a postive term that emphasises the person's ability to overcome obstacles and abuse - even if the abuse is still on-going it reminds the person they have survived so far with the skills they have and can use those same skills to survive in future. "Subject of abuse" sounds clinical to me, personally, but I think it is more imporatnt to allow people to chose the lables/terms that define themselves best.
posted by saucysault at 8:52 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I made a FPP about this issue last year. Things are much the same in this thread as they were in that one.
posted by reenum at 9:00 AM on April 30, 2013


Why is there a larger gap in lifetime prevalence?

This is a largely unanswered question. There are some theories, but no conclusive research to demonstrate whether any of the theories are correct.

For example, suppose we have a group of 50 people who are 50 years old; of them, eight women and two men were abused, but the abuse occurred twenty years ago. Suppose we also have 50 20-year-olds; of them, 4 women and 4 men have been abused, all within the past year. If we surveyed them we'd find 4% of men and 4% of women abused in the previous year, but we'd also find 12% of women and 6% of men abused at some point in their lifetime.

Admittedly that would be a horrendously poorly-conducted study if that were the real sample, but it points to one possibility: generational shifts in the ratios of violence can cause a difference when comparing recent experience to lifetime experience.

Another possibility comes from the fact that there is a bit of evidence that men don't just underreport violence committed against them; they also become less likely to report or disclose it as time passes. So a man who was abused ten years ago may be less likely to report it than a man who was abused last year, which again can affect the lifetime statistics compared to surveys of recent experiences.

And, well, that's just kind of the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot more theories floating around, but without more research, it's impossible to actually know what's going on.
posted by ubernostrum at 9:02 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Goofyy, I think you've touched upon a crucial distinction. The DV reports I see as a layman seem to be differ qualitatively along gender lines. All abuse is Not Okay and we should be providing better services, but it's often different for male and female victims.

Both anecdotally and statistically, I hear both men and women talk about being pushed, slapped, hit, or things being thrown at them. Unacceptable violent behavior, to be sure. But I do not hear the same cacophony of male voices talking about being stalked by exes, killed, or beaten to a pulp.

This matches the minuscule experience I have being adjacent to a violent relationship. Yes, she slapped him, threw things, and had violent tantrums. But he burned her with a cigarette in public. He gave her black eyes. He had a gun. It was a reciprocally violent relationship, but the violence was not the same. She was scared for her life, with good reason. He was not scared of her in any way.

This is born out by the statistics in the 2009 survey linked by the OP:
Females report more serious violence than males

About 22% of spousal violence victims stated that they had been sexually assaulted, beaten, choked or threatened with a gun or a knife, similar to 2004.

As in previous surveys, women reported more serious forms of spousal violence than men.

For example, 34% of females who reported spousal violence on the survey said they had been sexually assaulted, beaten, choked or threatened with a gun or a knife by their partner or ex-partner in the previous five years. This was three times the proportion for men (10%).

As in 2004, 3 in 10 spousal violence victims said they had been injured during the commission of the offence. Women were more than twice as likely as males to state they had been injured.
This would contribute to the discrepancy in reporting between men and women; men would be less likely to report their experiences if those incidents were less violent and less likely to recur, which seems to often be the case.

Just like right-thinking people had to fight tooth and nail to change how culture viewed domestic violence against women (from "his right to do with his property as he feels" to "not okay" and from "yeah he hits her" to "minor violences strongly predict later murder"), we now have to change the cultural view from "only women can be victimized; take the guy away in cuffs" to "anyone can be the subject of abuse; arrest the aggressor" and from "female-on-male abuse is funny" to "female-on-male abuse is a problem". But to do that, we don't need to argue that the abuse is of the same amount, degree, or kind. Because that argument is immaterial to fixing the problem, seems to be factually mistaken, and derails productive conversations for both women and men.

So, in partial penance for this comment being part of the very derail that I am arguing against, could I ask whether different types of services are appropriate for male DV victims? We seem to have a number of men in here with experience in the matter, so: what would've helped you? More awareness among police and service providers? Shelters? Counselling? Right now the laws made in response to women's experiences focus on strong orders of protection and shelters for the woman and her children. What should we be doing, not instead but in addition?
posted by daveliepmann at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


Goofyy: "I have to say, every time I see the term "survivor" applied, it makes me feel more victimized. It annoys me to an extreme. Like, fuck you. I'm not a "survivor", stuff your drama, kind of feeling. I wonder if other men feel the same way? Perhaps this language we use on the topic seriously doesn't work for men? "

Heh, I think people started using "survivor" because it sounded more empowering than "victim," but I sorta agree with you.

For what it's worth, I've heard women express the same sentiments. In general, I was taught that good first-response has to do with empowering the victim and language is definitely a part of that. It's always good to let them take the lead in the language they use to describe the experience, with "victim" and "survivor" being reasonable defaults.

That said, I do think there are differences between male and female victims. I remember reading that male victims are much more likely to take their own life, but I can't find the cite :/
posted by yaymukund at 9:37 AM on April 30, 2013


daveliepmann, honestly there's a lot that can be accomplished just from providing the same basic empathy/support response that we should provide to any victim of any sort of abuse or violence.

At an individual level: we know that abuse victims, of any gender, often blame themselves rather than the abuser, and feel that they provoked or otherwise caused the abuser's violence to happen. We also know how important it is to work against that tendency and to immediately begin to reinforce "It's not your fault. You didn't cause this. You don't deserve this."

Unfortunately that's something that a lot of men don't hear when they start to open up about abuse; in fact, "what did you do to deserve it" is a frighteningly common response.

At the social level: there needs to be awareness. We need it to be clear that not all abuse results in someone being hospitalized, and that not all violence leaves visible scars. We need people to know that, and we need men as well as women to be aware of the warning signs of abusive personalities and abusive relationships, and the fact that anyone can be an abuser and anyone can be a victim.

We also need some sort of safe space. And I don't mean physical facilities here, just some sort of forum in which it's OK to be open and honest about what's happened, and to be open and honest about the feelings it produces. This one in particular is tricky because as a society we are terrified of angry men, and abuse tends, sooner or later, to result in anger. There need to be spaces where that anger can be expressed without being seen as threatening, where it can be let out and moved through as the natural response that it is.

At the organizational level: there do need to be shelters. There do need to be counseling and legal services available. There need to be places for men to go with their children. There does need to be access to protective orders and the rest of the legal machinery; men are largely socialized never to stand up and publicly say "I am afraid", but we need to get rid of that and we need to be ready to act when they finally do stand up and say it.

Much of this is what we already try to do for women, and much of it will work for men, too. Much of the difficulty specific to helping men is in overcoming stereotypes about gender roles. Domestic violence for men is actually a double whammy: traditionalists are coming from a perspective of men as strong and women as weak, and so you're "less of a man" if a weak woman beats you up. Progressives are coming from a perspective of men as the powerful/privileged gender, and this absolutely does produce skepticism toward the idea that a woman could wield that kind of power over a man (this isn't often expressed directly, but will come out in questions about "well, who started it" or "are you sure didn't do anything that would make her feel threatened/afraid", and yes this really does happen).

Regardless of which set of roles someone believes in and which reason they have for believing in them, we need to overcome those stereotypes and be receptive to men who are willing to take that first big step and open up about what's happened to them. We need to encourage them to come forward, and to seek help, and we need to remind them help is available.

From there, it's mostly about the healing process, which is so individualized that it's hard to make general recommendations.
posted by ubernostrum at 9:52 AM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Or I guess a shorter way to put that: men who are victims of violence are human beings who've been hurt. Women who are victims of violence are human beings who've been hurt.

The things we know work for women will also, to a large extent, work for men, because really they are things that work for human beings, and realizing that is how it starts.
posted by ubernostrum at 9:55 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think this discussion is going in a good direction now, in terms of what anyone facing abuse needs and most of all, hearing men speak up about what they need. These stories need to be told and heard. That was the beginning of change for women, after all; telling our stories, and then demanding the right to keep telling them until they couldn't be ignored. (still working on this of course).

It hasn't taken off in the same way for men. Maybe because there is a weird tangle of hatred, rage, and pain in the MRA movement that in some ways has almost nothing to do with actual men being abused, or maybe can only respond to that reality by lashing out and attacking, rather than by more productive types of advocacy. It seems to suck people in and derail the entire conversation (for men and women). But then men really don't have many resources, and so where else can they go?

But here's a complicating issue as well:

Normally, if someone was asking me to be an ally for their cause, I take the tack of needing them to tell me what's most helpful, to keep from getting Savior Syndrome and start telling other people what to do about their own oppression.

It almost feels, though, as if I and other women are being asked to do just that. Which first, is not going to be as effective, and second, has uncomfortable overtones of us as a society expecting women to always take care of our emotional and social needs and injustices.

I don't think that's intentional, but it needs to be mentioned. I want to be an ally and I agree that men need to be included in the services provided to abuse survivors. However, it needs to be men speaking about their own oppression here, and deciding the way forward.
posted by emjaybee at 10:01 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've worked with abuse survivors of both genders, and I think there's a way in which counselors aren't always trained to work well with male anger. Anger is an absolutely normal and typical response to abuse, and in moderation it's necessary to the healing process. For the most part, though, abused women come in with overarching depression and self-blame and need to be encouraged to get angry, and abused men come in with overarching anger and desire for retribution and need to be encouraged to feel sadness as well (that's obviously an oversimplification and there are plenty of exceptions, but it holds as a pattern in my experience). For counselors (most of whom are women) who treat mostly female survivors, it can be really jarring and scary, frankly, to be face-to-face with really angry men -- especially if you've already heard stories from female survivors all week long about the dangers of really angry men.

None of this is any reason to refuse counseling to male survivors, but I suspect it might play into why individual counselors shy away from male clients and therefore, through a bunch of individuals making individual choices, we end up with a system that's unfair to male survivors.

It may also be at work on the client side, too. "I'm really depressed" is generally accepted by everyone as a reason to seek counseling; "I'm really angry" isn't. It may be that a lot of male abuse survivors don't realize that counseling could help and therefore aren't seeking help once they're out of abusive relationships, whereas for women that's when they start to feel themselves falling apart and so seek help.

I think something like 80% of therapy clients are female in general, so there are also gender splits in seeking help in general.
posted by jaguar at 10:07 AM on April 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


"Survivor" suggest a threat to my life. Nonsense. ..."Survivor" is all nice and victimy, for those who need that kind of validation. For others, it's just over-the-top.

Goofyy, I just noticed your "all nice and victimy" comment." Although I respect whatever language you choose to describe yourself and your experience, I do not think it moves the conversation forward by you deginerating people who have experienced life-threatening violence, especially when the research has been so clear that injuries are gendered.
posted by saucysault at 10:07 AM on April 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


when men come forward and try to disclose and talk about issues that affect them, and your response is to more or less immediately come down on them like a ton of bricks -- even if you feel it's justified -- you're not leaving those men a lot of other people to turn to.

I think this is a huge factor, and ties into what jaguar says above. Men who've been abused will find very little support in most DV environments, or in progressive communities. When they do speak up, a chorus of voices will yell that they're being "MRA"s. The only people who will listen to them and sympathize are the MRAs. So they naturally end up there, and thus naturally assimilate a lot of the ickier values.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:29 AM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


emjaybee, I think you've actually done a good job of articulating something that is notoriously hard -- especially for men -- to articulate.

I think there is a need for some sort of "men's movement". I don't know what to call it, and I don't know what it would look like, but right now all we really have in the gender space is -- and this is not a criticism, just an observation -- a set of movements and intellectual frameworks which have largely been developed by women, through the lens of womens' experiences, to solve womens' issues.

And a lot of the attempts to apply these movements and frameworks to men ring hollow, because they have very little connection to men, to mens' experiences and to mens' issues. Too often it feels like we're shoehorning an experience into something that doesn't really explain it, but since it's the only framework we have we do it anyway. There needs to be room for men to develop movements and frameworks for themselves. There will almost certainly be overlap with the collection of things called "feminism", and opportunities for partnership and mutual learning, but not all of it will overlap. And there will almost certainly be friction in the areas that don't overlap, but not all of it will be bad, and there will be opportunities to learn from that too.

There are already people trying to do this, but they tend to get lumped in with "nutjob MRAs" and ridiculed or vilified for it, or told "why do you need your own thing, feminism can solve your issues". We need to stop doing all of that. The experiences of women and of women's movements certainly have value, but sooner or later I think we must also have something developed by men to address their own experiences and issues, and that will also have value.
posted by ubernostrum at 10:31 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


So, in partial penance for this comment being part of the very derail that I am arguing against, could I ask whether different types of services are appropriate for male DV victims?

I can't speak for all obviously - but the thing that would have helped me the most would have been guidance and counseling. I got screwed pretty early on in the custody/child support dispute because I had no legal advice - or even, "go here and ask for this form" type of advice. There were several legal gotchas that I had no clue about - and I didn't have the sort of income that I was going to find a lawyer who would take my case AND spend time to explain things to me. So you couple her getting away with the abuse with her also being enabled by the system to continue the abuse through the family court and it becomes hard to not become an "angry man".

Plus obviously - the fact that I couldn't even talk about the abuse until many years later. I still die a little inside when I think "I got beat up by a girl".
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:41 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


...or told "why do you need your own thing, feminism can solve your issues". We need to stop doing all of that. The experiences of women and of women's movements certainly have value, but sooner or later I think we must also have something developed by men to address their own experiences and issues, and that will also have value.

I definitely think there needs to be a progressive movement of men working on men's issues. I don't think I've ever seen anyone saying "Feminism can solve your issues," though; I have seen men complaining that feminism doesn't care about men's structural oppressions, and feminists say, "Yes, we do," but that's not the same thing. I think most feminists would agree that men need to be at the forefront of addressing men's issues, because women doing so would be "womansplainin'" in the worst way.
posted by jaguar at 10:42 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are already people trying to do this, but they tend to get lumped in with "nutjob MRAs" and ridiculed or vilified for it, or told "why do you need your own thing, feminism can solve your issues".

It's tough for people to get in the right mental space. The usual experience is with things like White Power groups that try to re-frame their complaints innocently. You can dismiss the whole damn thing because white people don't actually face unique challenges because they are white in America, it pretty much just makes life easier.

Men, however, do face unique issues as a group that need some attention for the good of everyone. You have to ride a pretty fine line in making sure you condemn the hell out of the hate groups while not losing sight of the real concerns. That's why I get so nasty about the MRA groups, they are a massive roadblock for issues they claim to care about.

That isn't to disagree that the source of the issues facing men is generally patriarchy and feminists are all about breaking that down, but nobody is going to reasonably ask them to focus limited resources on male prison rape when they have a wage gap to deal with. Some other group has to pick up that issue, and until the hate groups are thoroughly discredited and eliminated from the discourse it's hard as hell to get there.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:43 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


until the hate groups are thoroughly discredited and eliminated from the discourse it's hard as hell to get there.

I'm afraid this is exactly backwards. One thing we see in pretty much every social change movement in history is that when the movement's primary worry is policing its borders so it'll be acceptable to others, change stalls. When the movement focuses on accomplishing goals and welcoming anyone who'll sign on with those goal, progress happens.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:28 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it might be different for men's issues and the MRA groups, because even though they are different than White Power groups in the way I pointed out above they are also similar in that they are a group coming from historical and present day privilege and social dominance that is often misused. You can afford to have some radicals/nuts more if that isn't the case.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:37 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are already people trying to [work on men's issues], but they tend to get lumped in with "nutjob MRAs" and ridiculed or vilified for it
One way to help avoid being ridiculed or vilified is to avoid what's called the Oppression Olympics. The harms and injustices being done to men (or whites, or straights, or the middle class) don't need to equal or exceed the harms and injustices being done to women (or blacks, or gays, or the poor).

One of the tells that I use to filter MRAs from reasonable people is whether they try to say that the abuse against men is worse than the abuse against women. I also use this filter elsewhere: if someone says that women have it worse than blacks, or vice versa, I think to myself, "this person wants to win, not to make things better".

An extra bit of gravy that I use when I want to bring up men's rights--for example, when I want to point out that the custody system is not working optimally--is to establish common ground and point out my agreement with the broader project of feminism. I'll say, "of course, women have historically been economically distressed at the time of divorce, and child support is notoriously hard to collect on, but {insert NYT article}. I'm sure that women get screwed in divorces too, but we should fix this because it's not right for anyone." Because I want to be triple-sure that nobody mistakes me for someone who holds odious MRA positions. And I don't blame feminism for that--I blame the odious thinking of MRAs.
posted by daveliepmann at 12:14 PM on April 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


Another way to avoid being lumped in with MRAs, at least in my opinion (and isn't that the most important opinion?), is to be aware of where and when discussions about men's issues are raised.

I think this FPP is a good thing, and I think there are a lot of really worthwhile discussions to be had from it, and it's an example of doing things right: We're talking about men's issues in a thread which is about men's issues. Awesome! That is exactly the place for it.

Where the problem arises is when MRAs decide that the time and place for a discussion about men's DV issues is in an already-existing one about DV against women. Or that the time and place for a discussion about sexual assault against men is in a discussion about sexual assault against women.

I think there'd be much less of a stigma surrounding people who concern themselves with issues that men face if there were more people (and if more of them were more vocal) who understood that men's issues do not exist as some sort of counterpoint to feminism, but instead recognize that a system which places fucked-up expectations on one gender will also, by necessity, do the same with the other: if we believe that women are so weak and so lacking in agency that they cannot hurt men, then we also believe that men are so unfeeling that they cannot be hurt by women, and neither are true, and both are harmful as fuck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:25 PM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


saucysault: My experience with women's shelters in Canada is that they are minimally funded, staff are low-paid (especially compared to their education), rely VERY heavily on donations (cash and in-kind) and extensive volunteers. Because so many women have had domestic violence touch their lives they want to act in ways to prevent others from experiencing what they did. They donate despite lower disposable incomes and volunteer while juggling child are and domestic responsibilities. I think it is perfectly reasonable for people to choose to direct their efforts towards causes they personally believe in, especially if it affects a group they identify with - even if other causes also have equal needs. Although his focus seems to be on the lack of government support, it is also a lack of support, donations, and volunteers from other men that seem to have led to the close of his shelter.
I fail to see how any of that is relevant to the problem that violence against human beings is not being treated effectively. Are you actually reducing the argument for defense of victims to a popularity contest? I'd bet pretty women get more sympathy than ugly ones, but I'd be pretty outraged if the government funded the Hotties Halfway House but not the regular YWCA.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:56 PM on April 30, 2013


I've been at work and unable to participate, so I wanted to thank the people in this thread for mostly being thoughtful, even when angry or disappointed. There's been a lot to think about in here.
posted by kavasa at 1:19 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know what studies he's referring to, but surely this is a really scary statistic, if true, and it could probably explain a fair degree of under-reporting.

My cousin's wife kicked him and broke his rib(s?) during a fight. The cops came, arrested her and put her in jail for the night, but only after debating arresting him for about an hour. I saw him immediately after this happened. He was pale, sweating, etc: in pain. I told him to go to the doctor, but he didn't want to leave any medical trace of what happened, because he didn't want his wife to go to jail. (They have kids.) He bought one of those medical girdles at Walgreen's and bailed his wife out.

After she got out, the state sent __her__ information on battered women's shelters.
posted by luke1249 at 1:45 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I fail to see how any of that is relevant to the problem that violence against human beings is not being treated effectively.

I was attempting to point out that the very real problems faced by male survivors of domestic violence were not being effectively treated through this private shelter and that is why it was not funded (privately or via the government). People support causes they recognise and solutions they see have worked - often donations come from individuals who's lives have been improved by the organisation, or recognise that type of organisation would have helped them when they were in crisis. He did not seem to have that community support which makes me wonder if men that are survivors of DV are instead focusing their donations and volunteer efforts in other organisations.

The private shelter had a very low number of clients - compared to the number of people he claimed needed his help. It would be irresponsible of the government (or an individual) to fund an organisation with such a small ROI. The lack of community support for his specific private shelter does not mean the community did not recognise the same problem as him; perhaps the people who could have volunteered or donated were focusing their efforts towards organizations they felt were more effective. He used a lot of rhetoric that seemed to set him in a zero-sum game against women's shelters (his untrue statement that his was the only men's DV shelter in Canada, his claims of being denied federal funding without mentioning women's shelters also did not recieve federal funding).

It is not a popularity contest, but if the specific needs of the women that are survivors of DV require shelters, it does not necessarily follow that male survivors have the same needs and should therefore have access to the same number of beds. Not all women that are survivors use the shelter system, not all men may need emergency housing. It seems to be confusing the symptom (insecure housing/economic imbalance) with the disease (DV), to use a medical analogy. The goal should be equitable treatment, not equal treatment. I agree with the others that have stated that it is the clients seeking services that need to take the lead on articulating what their needs are, so that organisations can focus on helping men in the most effective way.
posted by saucysault at 6:23 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drinky Die: "Compltely off topic, but just once on TV I'd like to see something bad happen and the man runs hysterically screaming and crying from the room while the woman stoically handles the issue for them."

TVTropes has, of course, a page or two on this though there isn't much in the way of Hysterical reactions. Though I'd guess that Futurama has multiple examples. And Wash is likely to be protected by Zoey in Firefly.

the young rope-rider: "Then there is the fact that every year, 3 times more women are murdered by intimate partners than men."

I never in a million years would have guessed that 25% of domestic murder victims are men. By which I mean you practically never hear about such cases and the ones you do here about usually seem to be at the level of man bites dog.

yaymukund: "That said, I do think there are differences between male and female victims. I remember reading that male victims are much more likely to take their own life, but I can't find the cite :/"

Suicide rates in general are heavily skewed towards men so that does make sense.
posted by Mitheral at 6:55 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm bemused that MRAs have been brought up so often in this thread. I don't think MeFi even actually has any MRAs.

One would think that we'd want to discuss the actual topic of the FPP, and what's more, to discuss it in such a way that would remove MRAs' influence. MRAs do not "own" this issue, no matter what they or some of their opponents would think.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:51 PM on April 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


The goal should be equitable treatment, not equal treatment. I agree with the others that have stated that it is the clients seeking services that need to take the lead on articulating what their needs are, so that organisations can focus on helping men in the most effective way.

But are there organizations actually interested in helping men in those situations? I think that's one of the issues raised by the FPP. The affidavit from the woman in California who ran a shelter that took in men didn't have much detail and is a bit old, but nonetheless interesting. She said she was criticized by people running other domestic violence organizations and her efforts to discuss domestic violence committed against men were ignored.
posted by Area Man at 6:39 AM on May 1, 2013


I think one of the problems with establishing shelters for men is that we tacitly accept that women are vulnerable in ways that men are not. Most shelters are actually there to protect specific women from abuse by specific men, and women's shelters are obviously no solution for the pervasive and general threat to women caused by "rape culture", but our recognition of the general threat helps us accept the need for women's shelters without feeling any need to quantify this need in individual cases: of course there must be shelters, and it will be up to the shelters to determine whom they admit.

In contrast, there is no feeling that men are generally vulnerable: in fact there's a lot of resistance to the idea that even specific men are vulnerable to specific women. This means that men's needs are scrutinised in a way that women's needs are not; and abused men aren't seen as examples of a general problem but as individuals making a somewhat-suspect claim to public resources. In consequence, there is little or no support for men's shelters even though rationally there must be some need for them: we simply haven't accommodated the fact that being the victim of abuse is actually a defining category, even if men as a class aren't as vulnerable as women are.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:09 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


But are there organizations actually interested in helping men in those situations?

Yes, there are. I think providing gender-neutral IPV services is one of the ways in which IPV service providers are shifting rapidly, and I wouldn't go by older stories about it.

Unscientific, but even just a Google search for "domestic violence services men" shows that a lot of organizations are explicitly including male victims in their outreach.

There's obviously still stigma and other structural barriers to service, but I've never heard any IPV service provider be anything but compassionate toward any abuse survivor, regardless of gender or sexual orientation or identity.
posted by jaguar at 9:00 AM on May 1, 2013


Services for Male Victims of Domestic Violence: A Fact Sheet (PDF) is interesting, too, in that it points out that most of the services men use are the ones also used by women, and that most of the barriers men report in getting help are the same as those reported by women. (It's put out by the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, which I've never heard of, but their citations look legit.)

Disclosure and Services Available

• Reasons for failure to report.
The most common reason male victims had for not reporting their intimate partner victimization to authorities was because it was a “private or personal matter.” This was the reason given about 50 percent of the time. This is the most common reason for both male and female victims; however, male victims used this reason in a significantly higher percentage.

• Male victims are often reluctant to disclose being abused.
Like many female victims of abuse, male victims may fear that their complaints will not be taken seriously, that they will be blamed for their partner’s violence, or that they might lose custody of their children if they tell anyone about the abuse. Many men are embarrassed to admit that they are being abused and fear being ridiculed, particularly those subscribing to traditional gender roles that say that the man should be the “head of the household” and “in control.” Further, when their partner’s abuse is primarily psychological and emotional, or verbal (rather than physical), they may feel that their experiences will be minimized as “not serious.” Given research reporting a high rate of domestic violence within the context of intimate homosexual partnerships among men, with 39% of those studied reporting at least one type of abuse by a partner over the last five years, some male victims may also fear homophobic attitudes and discrimination when they reach out for help.

• Many male abuse victims are unaware of the legal options and protections available to them. Male victims may assume that they are not eligible for legal services or protections due to their gender. In fact, state and federal domestic violence laws, like other laws and the protections they provide, are gender neutral. Despite this reality, when asked why they chose not to report their victimization to the police, the majority of victims physically assaulted by an intimate partner in the NVAWS said they did not think the police would or could do anything about their victimization, and 61.5% of the women and 45% of the men said the police would not have believed them.

• Core services of most domestic violence programs include a 24-hour confidential crisis hotline. These hotlines provide callers with information about legal options and referrals to a full range of community services. Most importantly, hotlines provide the caller with a safe – and private – place to talk about the abuse he or she is experiencing while also providing support and information to help develop immediate and long-term safety plans. Hotline workers are increasingly being trained to use language that supports disclosure of abuse by men being victimized by a female partner and by victims being abused in same sex relationships.

• Most domestic violence programs maintain a full set of community referrals that would be helpful to both male and female domestic violence victims. These typically include listings of legal, medical, mental health and other professionals willing and able to provide assistance to victims of abuse on a pro bono or reduced rate basis. Just as with female abuse victims, these are the types of services and supports more frequently requested by male victims of domestic violence than emergency shelter.

• Most programs provide other services and supports for male and female domestic violence victims and their families. These other services may include regular support groups for victims of domestic violence (some have separate male and female support groups); court accompaniment; medical and social services advocacy; transportation to advocacy appointments; and community education and training. In some communities, specialized services have been designed for older survivors, abuse victims exposed to HIV/AIDS, victims of abuse within gay and lesbian relationships, and immigrant victims. An extensive network of batterers intervention programs has been developed over the past 15 years as well, most commonly providing specialized groups for abusers within a coordinated community response and serving as a referral option for the courts.

• Emergency shelter for male victims, although limited in some communities, is also available. Shelters that utilize federal funding for domestic violence programs are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of age, handicap, sex, race, color, national origin or religion, although the law does allow for provision of gender-specific services where appropriate. Some domestic violence programs have a shelter facility or facilities that allow them to house male and female victims in a manner that ensures the necessary privacy and support for both. Other domestic violence programs provide emergency housing to male victims through other types of community shelter or through the use of hotel vouchers or host homes.

...
• Domestic violence services remain limited in some places and for some populations, including men.
While some states have at least one domestic violence program in every county, there are many areas, particularly in rural, low population states, where a victim must travel many miles to reach the nearest domestic violence shelter or support group or advocacy services. The lack of programs is particularly acute for Native American women and men and within migrant and immigrant communities. Access to services remains limited for victims with disabilities and older men and women in abusive relationships. Services for gay men and/or transgendered persons are emerging and domestic violence programs are working to enhance responses to these victims.


I come away with three points:

1. As saucysault has been saying, shelters are not the most utilized service for IPV victims of any gender, so it may be a red herring to focus on those.

2. Services for male IPV survivors do exist. Where they are limited, they are also likely limited for female survivors.

3. Structural/cultural barriers to getting help are very much real for male IPV survivors -- and they are very much real for female IPV survivors. In my personal experience, this is where the most rapid societal shifts are happening, especially with police response. There was a very concerted push in the 90s to have police start regarding IPV (against women) as an actual crime, and I think there's a similar push happening now for respecting and responding to male, gay, and transgender victims.
posted by jaguar at 9:17 AM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ah, thanks, saucysault. I totally misread your original post; I agree with your explanation. Equality does not mean the same number of beds in halfway houses should be available; it just means that we should treat all violence as a serious societal problem to be overcome, regardless of victim gender/race/orientation/age/anydamnthingatall.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:02 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's obviously still stigma and other structural barriers to service, but I've never heard any IPV service provider be anything but compassionate toward any abuse survivor, regardless of gender or sexual orientation or identity.

You may be moving in more enlightened circles than those in which many people live. Trans women often have serious problems accessing domestic violence services, which is all too predictable, but refusing access to a shelter, for example, anything but compassionate. There's an article about it here.
posted by hoyland at 6:04 PM on May 1, 2013


"That said, I do think there are differences between male and female victims. I remember reading that male victims are much more likely to take their own life, but I can't find the cite :/"

Suicide rates in general are heavily skewed towards men so that does make sense.


Gender differences in suicide are a fairly heavily researched issue. In short (for western cultures; I haven't really read much cross-cultural research on suicide, but I believe this gender issue may be reversed in Asia/China), females express more suicidal ideation and attempts overall; males, however, complete suicide more often. This is generally understood to be because men choose more fast-acting methods - firearms, hanging, asphyxiation - than women whose prefered methods (overdose, poisoning) tend to allow for time for discovery (and i know I've read somewhere that in Canada that more women are choosing hanging, resulting in an increase in the female rate, but I'll be damned if I can find that now). There is some question about whether or not female suicides are more likely to be recorded as accidental deaths, however, as a result of those methods (this article covers a lot of ground about the assumptions/potential issues in the gender asymmetry in suicidal behaviour).

In brief, what I want to say here is that there appear to be a lot of factors underlying suicide differences between the genders and we don't have a lot of understanding or insight into those yet. Experiencing domestic violence is certainly one of the risk factors that needs to be taken into account (we know that victims of DV have higher suicide rates), but there are also risk factors with regard to addictions, mental health, economic factors, family and personal history, and so forth.

Even briefer in brief - we have two complex issues here (DV and suicide) that intersect along with gender issues. Drawing a conclusion that the higher rate of male suicide in western nations is a direct result of poor handling of DV situations involving male victims seems problematic to me. Not to say it isn't a contributing factor to some male suicides, but I think the generally higher male suicide rate overall has a lot more factors in play.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:44 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was meaning to imply that higher rates of male suicide were the result of poor handling of DV issues but merely that men suicide more often than women across the board so it wouldn't be surprising if male DV victims also show higher rates.
posted by Mitheral at 9:36 PM on May 1, 2013


You may be moving in more enlightened circles than those in which many people live. Trans women often have serious problems accessing domestic violence services...

Yes, I think I probably am, in that I'm working in providing services to abuse survivors in California, which tends to be more progressive than most places (and I fully realize we still fall down on the job a lot of the time). But what I'm saying, I think, is that I see gigantic huge positive shifts in attitudes currently happening here, which makes me believe that those gigantic huge positive shifts will spread through the rest of the country. (I won't speak to international issues, because I don't have a good sense of how US progressive policies spread, or don't.)

The organization I worked with had the local university's transgender-awareness group come speak for about an hour about how we should address transgender issues in domestic violence, and not a single staff member had anything negative to say about the training. And I was not in a major urban area in California, but one that split 50/50 Republican and Democratic. Service providers tend, in my experience, to be empathetic people who want to help anyone in pain.

Of course, gender stereotypes exist and have, and do, influence how services are provided. I have immense hope, though, based on personal experience, that those stereotypes are breaking down among providers. There are multiple levels where those stereotypes need to break down -- funders, executive boards, clients, police, legal systems, etc. -- and so I'm not trying to say that everything is solved, but I do think that we're moving in the right direction, and I'd love for people passionate about this issue to contribute to the cause with the same hope and passion I've seen from the folks I've worked with.
posted by jaguar at 9:39 PM on May 1, 2013


And what I said about gender stereotypes above, I meant to apply not only to transgender abuse survivors but also cis-gender male abuse survivors. The idea that only heterosexual cisgender women experience abuse at the hands of only heterosexual cisgender men is disintegrating, at least in the organizations I've worked with.
posted by jaguar at 9:42 PM on May 1, 2013


Mitheral: "I was meaning to imply"

Wasn't
posted by Mitheral at 9:58 PM on May 1, 2013


I'm afraid this is exactly backwards. One thing we see in pretty much every social change movement in history is that when the movement's primary worry is policing its borders so it'll be acceptable to others, change stalls. When the movement focuses on accomplishing goals and welcoming anyone who'll sign on with those goal, progress happens.

But is taking a hard line against misogynist ideology "border policing"? Is the goal to be "acceptable to others," or is it to refuse to endorse misogynist ideology, because that ideology is wrong? Would uprooting homophobic ideology within the movement also be viewed as border policing or an overconcern with social (i.e., "PC") "acceptability"?

I agree in that I don't think it's reasonable to expect a men's movement to weed out all present or past MRAs from their ranks or develop litmus tests for individuals (good luck with that, feminism has its bad apples), but there is a reason that so much social justice work is seen through the lens of feminism-- it has had a long, hard, and ongoing struggle with a spectrum of oppressions, and continues to evolve (a more mainstream) awareness of society-wide issues such as racism, homophobia and transphobia. Feminism may be for women, by women, but it is not limited to women in its sensitivities and awareness-- feminists discuss masculinity, they discuss sexuality and race as they affect men and women. For a men's movement to evolve and collaborate, I would imagine it would have to be similarly ethically concerned.

Anyway, I see your point that a men's movement cannot be overly concerned with border policing, as no movement can-- but if nothing else the lesson of the history of feminism is that it does need to be actively concerned with its social impact and how it interacts with and responds to other groups working for social justice, if it is a serious movement.


On that note, I've witnessed IPV against men in my own life, and I agree that men need support and there are many steps that need to be taken, such as consciousness-raising and a critical evaluation of how law enforcement responds to violence against men. The greatest challenges I've faced in being a friend to men in abusive relationships are the same as those I've faced in being a friend to women-- no one believes that they're really being abused, that what's happening to them is abuse, and that they are "allowed" to leave. I wish I could see a clear perspective on this issue in the current configuration of the activist scene-- MRAs are obviously dropping the ball, feminists prioritize women's issues, and male (feminist, i.e. gender-critical) allies are something of a diaspora. I think in an ideal world there would be a critical mass of "feminist" (i.e. gender-critical, social-justice oriented) men to critically raise these concerns; as it is I find it difficult to imagine feminism and an isolated men's movement not coming into frequent, difficult, and alienating conflict that prevents useful collaboration (of resources and critical thought). That may just be the reality until there is social change; there may be no unified movement while we are dealing with these issues on the terms available to us. I agree with cairdeas above in that we need to be honest and realistic about the stats on male & female IPV; I also believe that there is anger, activist and otherwise, that makes it difficult to discuss these issues across the gender divide. I'm very interested in alternatives and new perspectives.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:08 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mitheral - sorry for misreading your intent; I spend a lot of time thinking about/working with suicide prevention, so I can sometimes be a little jumpy when I see something I think might be misleading.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:10 AM on May 2, 2013


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