Thursday, September 11, 2008

Domestic Violence Victims Services and the Male Heterosexual Victim

Having been an advocate for victims of domestic abuse for over a decade I have done my homework with regard to what services are available for men abused by women. The question, "What services do battered women's shelter programs offer male victims?" has come up more times then I can count over the years. I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the issue having called, emailed and faxed a great number of these shelter programs across the country on behalf of our clients in the last eight years. Here is what I have discovered. When I contact an agency my call goes something like this, "Hello, my name is Jan and I am with the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women. I have just had caller on our helpline that lives in your county and I have screened him (more about that later) and found that he is a victim of domestic abuse." Then I might give a few details about his situation such as the types of violence he has suffered at the hands of his intimate partner (never revealing his name, address or phone number) and then ask the hotline advocate, "What services does your agency offer abused men?" or "Can I refer him to your agency?" The responses generally go like this, "We don't help men....hold on let me ask are referred out (usually to a batterer's intervention program)....we offer the same services to all victims but we only shelter women and children...except for adolescents boys we don't shelter them...and we do not have support groups for male victims but if more men called we would consider starting one. Domestic violence shelter programs were never meant to house or serve men. The founding mothers of domestic violence services were advocates for battered women not advocates for battered person's. That being the case it's really no surprise that many of these programs have nothing to offer male victims. To Be Continued....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Any given day on the helpline

A variety of calls come into a toll free domestic abuse is a sampling of today's: A 24 year old woman today called to talk about a recent situation with her "newly" ex boyfriend. She said that she had sent her boyfriend "packing" a couple of days ago because he had gotten aggressive with her. Well Bravo for you sister! She set a healthy boundary and made her abusive boyfriend's first physical attack upon her his last. Then came the rest of the seems that they were both drunk at the time and they were having an argument over the fact that since he moved in a few months ago she no longer wanted to go out at night as they used to do when they were dating, she preferred to stay at home with her pets. The argument got heated and she threw an ashtray at him and according to her "scratched the hell out of him." At some point he went to take a laundry basket out of her hands, she said he was a little rough about it, and he shoved her. The next thing she knew she was on the floor having fallen down three stairs. She got a little bruised up as a result. She made this call at her mother's insistence. Her mother was also encouraging her to press criminal charges against the abusive boyfriend, however, she didn't want to do so. She hasn't heard from him or seen him since she "sent him packing." When asked if she feared him she said no she wasn't afraid of him. This was the first time in their two year relationship that he had ever used physical "violence." Truth be told she said, he was more battered than she was from the incident. She asked if there were any women's support groups that she could get involved in. Did she tend to pick guys that were abusive? No, this was the first one but her mother thought she should get involved with a women's support group. In conclusion, she was being encouraged to press criminal charges against her boyfriend although she wasn't afraid of him, he hasn't made any attempt to contact her since she sent him packing and according to her he was more "battered" than she was after the incident. Something to ponder: One of the key elements of domestic violence is that one person has more power and control over the other in the relationship and that the one being controlled is in fear of the other person. A 19 year old young woman called and hung up after giving her name to the advocate. She called back shortly after that, her boyfriend had gone out again. She was crying and sounded terrified. She said she had just moved to the state with her boyfriend and they were living with one of his relatives. He had just beat her up, he pulled her hair and knocked her down and she was scared. It wasn't the first time he has beat her up and he has been in jail before. She said, "I gotta go, I gotta go," and hung up again.