My day started with a map showing directions to the venue. OK, so all who know me well know I always get lost and some of you know how I end up far away and asking for directions from strangers on the side of the road. Well, strangers in the city is a funny thing because people know how to get there but are unsure how to describe the way. Anyhow, I finally arrived moments before morning tea.
Being prepared with 30 copies of over 100 pages of documentation proving women are more violent than men from Paul Catton, East Auckland Men’s Refuge, who made the most incredible 5 star meal for me when I picked up all his hard work and copying, I started my work; finding out who was who.
“Hello, who are you and what group are you from?” was the start of my awesome discussions. “Do you have something for male victims of domestic violence?” was my second question after I introduced myself and that I was involved with ‘Auckland Single Parent’s’ group.
Sooo, with the interest was the exchange of e-mail addresses and business cards.
Then it was back to the workshop and listening to an extreme American feminist man. Of course with the pep of my self esteem came my willingness to question with this wonderful opportunity.
Lundy (the feminist speaker from America) stated abusive men learn from the behaviours of their fathers. “What about the fatherless children coming from single parents”, I asked. Oh, gosh, first question and I was shut down by Lundy with the response single mothers leave abusive fathers. The room filled with nods and mutters of agreement. Then one woman raised her hand to state something in agreement with Lundy that relationship counselling was a bad idea.
Being slightly paranoid and brave at the same time I kept raising my hand as Lundy used what she said to compliment his own belief. Eventually he acknowledged me and I stated I wanted to respond to the woman who responded to me. I stated that it is hard for men and women who come from broken homes to make a relationship because they have no role models and that they needed to be shown how to work together. Lundy agreed with me that there needs to be some sort of prevention program to help men and women to have healthy relationships.
So then he gave a loooong example of a dysfunctional family where the man was bad for 2 days. I stated that the father was abusive to the mother but not to the children. That was a bad move having one of the members of HAIP at my table.
Anyhow, then came lunch. Mmmm, yummeeee. Yet there was ample time to make up for my errors by listening to others opinions and challenging them. All I can say is that there is interest in men. If there is a need, we have the resources available.
OK, so lunch ended and back into the workshop. Lundy was onto the subject on how to deal with male batterers.
First thing up was a must for consequences. Lundy said that DV must be treated as the worst crime imaginable. “They absolutely must go to prison for their crime”, he stated. And then he said this has been proven to be effective.
I was so shocked he said this that I didn’t even raise my hand but bluntly stated, “That is a really bad idea”. By now I have been watching women on all tables listening to this man and writing all the words he says.
He said a few words and then I stated, “You don’t know NZ prisons. There are gangs in there and they rape men in there”. I couldn’t help myself and I was so connected raising my hand was no longer an option.
Lundy acknowledged what I said and stated there needs to be some sort of humanity movement in prison and some sort of dealing with racism but he shrugged it off saying all this will take time.
Before I go on I want to share something else Lundy said about time while I was lost and missed part of the workshop. He stated that if all governments and all health facilities and police and CYS (child services) and women’s groups and all other community groups got involved in this, we should fix DV in 20 years. But….. since governments are driven by the economy, he thinks it will take about 100 years.
OMG, 100 years? What about millions of other possibilities of holding this back? Straight up, just from this I can tell you now family violence campaigns as men are perpetrators and women are victims is not going to work. If males are already fighting back what do you think they will be like in 100 years of females calling the shots to put them in prison?
Anyhow talking about prison and back to the workshop, female probation officers were also there and they were interested in this ’send them to prison’ idea. I approached them during the next break to remind them that they will be sending every woman who has abused their children to prison the same way. They just said, “Look at Singapore. They have heavy sentences and there is no violence on the streets”. How strange to hear the comparison when I know feminists are pushing for safe streets. So they want men in prison do they?
Well, then another group spoke up about the idea of men in prison saying that prison has programs for rapists and drug addicts. Oh, how Lundy liked that idea for it complimented his idea that you can’t make a man non violent in a batterers 16 week program. He say it takes years to help a man and that there is no measure to say one man is less violent than another. “What about the woman”, he said. He said it was impossible to tell slight from bad and criticised judges for thinking some cases should get a less sentence. He insisted all men should get the worst sentence. As bad as murder, he empathised.
OK, so now I must speak up again. “What about a men’s refuge” I say. Then I spoke of the idea from Tauranga women’s refuge where men can be sent to a refuge while women stay at home.
“I like that idea”, says Lundy “But we are not there and if we were there needs to be programs inside and such” he said. (not exact words but near enough)
I am not sure but I think I started waking the men up as they were now asking questions on how to deal with men and the situations they are in.
OK, next CYFs are targeted with Lundy saying men as batterers shouldn’t have parenting programs like women for they will use them to learn how to dominate their children. “In fact”, he said, “Men should not be given any ideas on how to make their children trust them or confide in them”.
Oh, gosh. Now CYF workers are suggesting changing their programs. “Oh, we didn’t know, We have been doing things wrong”, they said.
But Lundy is a fool. He kept on going on about holding men as bad yet he kept saying everyone needs to listen to the sweet innocent mother. It all came undone when Allison (I must say her name for she has done studies that I will be showing here when she e-mails me) stated that schools must contact CYF if a child confides in a teacher.
You see, Lundy has this idea that fathers are bad yet the mother in his eyes is abusing her children because a man made her do it. He kept saying to all of us that we must listen to the mother but not take away her children. That we must be intelligent and think to the depth of the situation.
The silly man doesn’t understand that no-one is allowed to make a decision on their own. What he doesn’t understand is that through his own lobby pushing to hold men accountable with no room to move, he is holding mothers also accountable to the same standard.
Lundy finished the day dogging the men’s movement and saying that men are not the ones being harmed in the FC but women are.
He described all moves from father’s in the FC as an abusive way for control and said that the only worthy cases for shared parenting don’t go to court.
Anyhow, I had a great day and made some wonderful connections.
In fact, I approached the ex head of women’s refuge to confess the work that I intend to do. I told her that I am going to stand up for the men’s side. She told me I should work for 6 months in a women’s refuge to understand their side. All I can say is that after our small discussion on the matter she realises I do not need to do that.
So it came down to her and the 2 girls she is taking care of which made her stand down and me with my 2 sons. As I explained my empathy is for anyone who suffers domestic violence. She says if I want help I will join them but I say they are going about it the wrong way.
The main thing is we each know where we stand. I had to be honest with her because that is what I am about. She said all was black and white for her the first 10 years of her work but she sees colour. We shared stories of men who shared their stories with us. I think we are on a level playing field.
Hey all, thanks for reading about my day. I didn’t give out the wonderful information Paul put so much time and energy into which was unfortunate yet maybe they are meant for something more special.