It’s so easy to get political change? DV
Greg Andresen, of Men’s Health Australia, is a persistent and sharp political operator.
I have heard many men in NZ complain “Why doesn’t someone [else?] talk to the politicians and get everything sorted out?”.
If I have tried to explain what is required to communicate well to politicians, I have been attacked as defeatist and being too negative in seeing many challenges ahead. My critics mainly have been people who have never done more than make one telephone call, or Saturday visit to an MP. Then they complain that nothing positive happened!
I have suggested that men read How to Make Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie and Dr. Brian Edwards and Judy Callingham’s book about How to Deal with Media. But these critics don’t have time to read it, they just want to jump straight in to making a submission or talking with a politician. Then they wonder why they don’t seem to have achieved anything? (Note: I am not saying they have achieved nothing, as such a judgement needs to be made over several years, not just a few days.)
So, don’t give up, be willing to put in 10x more effort than you ever thought might be required.
Learn from others who have gone before. That is why I recommend Dale Carnegie and the Edward’s books.
To give up, is to be defeated by your own decision!
In July 2014, the One in Three Campaign lodged our written submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Finance and Public Administration’s Inquiry into Domestic Violence in Australia. Some ten months later, our dealings with the Inquiry have finally concluded and we are able to talk about our experiences. This has been an eye-opening experience for the men and women of One in Three. We were prepared for rigorous questioning and challenging of our views, but not for the levels of direct, unsubstantiated and unprovoked attack by some members of the Senate Committee and other organisations appearing before it. What follows is a detailed account of our experiences, and is unfortunately lengthy. However we feel this level of detail is necessary for reasons of transparency.
On 30th July 2014 we lodged our first submission to the Inquiry. The submission wasn’t controversial in the least and merely outlined the data on male victims of family violence in Australia while calling for more services and support for male victims than are currently provided by Australian Governments and NGOs.
On the 4th November 2014, Greg Andresen and Andrew Humphreys from One in Three appeared in person before the Inquiry’s Sydney hearing. You can read a transcript here. Unfortunately the Official Committee Hansard document linked to above is not an accurate transcription of what was actually said at the hearings. You can read an accurate transcription
here with changes highlighted in yellow. You will note that certain phrases were removed, affecting the reader’s impression of the tone of events at the hearing.
At the Sydney hearing, White Ribbon Australia and ANROWS gave testimony that directly attacked the work of the One in Three Campaign. This, along with questions asked by Greens Senator Larissa Waters, and the opportunity to provide further clarifying information to the Committee, necessitated the lodging by One in Three of a Supplementary Submission on 24th November 2014. Some highlights of this submission are as follows.
At the Sydney Hearing, Senator Waters asked, “so the legacy of gender inequality, how is that addressed, if not with an approach that focuses on women?”
We are concerned that this comment could mistakenly be taken to mean that:
The social inequalities suffered by women in the past are justification for denying men services and protection under the law today, and that
Re-victimising men who have experienced family violence would somehow address that legacy or promote equality in the future.
We have at no time suggested that there should not be family violence services made available to women only. We have argued instead that family violence services should not exist only for women. Generalist services should service the needs of men and women together where appropriate, and gender-specific services should exist for both men and women where necessary.
At the Sydney Hearing, Senator Waters stated that One in Three was “quite disparaging in [our] remarks and in [our] submission about ‘feminist-run services'”.
We do not understand this statement. Our actual claims are that:
Feminist ideology, specifically that “family violence is perpetrated by men against women for the purposes of patriarchal control’ is unsupported by evidence, creates discrimination against men, and often fails to assist women
Programs, such as Duluth, that base their treatment model on this ideology rather than empirical evidence are failing to address the real causes and presentations of family violence, which may be a reason why the prevalence of family violence hasn’t fallen despite 40 years of these programs.
We do not believe that debate about the effectiveness of publicly funded policy and programs is “disparagement’ or that such programs should be exempt from review and critical analysis, especially when they appear to be failing to address the problem and failing to protect Australians from family violence. We do believe that publicly funded family violence services need to implement much more rigorous standards for reporting and measurement of outcomes. We do not believe it is the role of the Australian Government to fund the promotion of ideology or to discriminate against Australian citizens because of their sex, but to fund empirically proven interventions that protect and serve all Australians.
At the Sydney Hearing, ANROWS claimed that, “Organisations like One in Three… talk about gender symmetries… they say violence is equal between men and women”
We have never claimed gender symmetry, nor that violence is equal between men and women. We would have thought that the title of our organisation – “One in Three” – would have made this clear! We hope ANROWS will retract this claim accordingly.
ANROWS also stated, “I would also suggest that in a pool of limited research funding where we cannot even fund all the projects on violence against women, it might not be the best use of resources to investigate a problem that we do not even have any good indication actually exists in significant numbers.”
The best and most equitable use of limited funding would be to direct it towards those who need it the most, regardless of their gender. The current gendered approach to family violence funding is not only a waste of resources, it leaves many victims without the support that they need.
Almost exclusively funding family violence services that are only available to females has led to a disparity between male and female victims, with males who have experienced severe forms of family violence missing out, while such services are readily provided to women who have suffered equal or much lesser levels of violence.
A triage system available to both genders that prioritised making services available to those persons most affected by the most severe forms of family violence would be the best and most equitable use of limited resources. This would bring the family violence sector into line with every other service sector in Australian society.
No-one argues that all suicide prevention funding should go to preventing male suicide just because males commit suicide at four times the rate of females; or that all occupation health and safety funding should go to preventing male deaths and injuries in the workplace just because men make up 95% of workplace fatalities. Yet Australian Governments and NGOs do this in the family violence sector just because the majority of victims are female.
It shouldn’t matter what proportion of family violence victims are male (or rural, or low-SES, or young, or disabled, or LGBTI, or ATSI or CALD, for that matter). Social justice and human rights frameworks dictate that all victims of family violence have access to the services and support they deserve.
At the Sydney Hearing, White Ribbon Australia stated, “We find that the tactics and strategies of One in Three to derail the White Ribbon campaign and to undermine the evidence that exists and the statistical evidence supporting our claim of men’s violence against women to be very disrespectful of the campaign and of the space it occupies.”
All our activities are clearly on the public record. The only activities we have undertaken that have involved White Ribbon Australia have been attempts to correct factual and statistical errors used by the Campaign on their websites, printed materials and in research efforts.
We believe the public has a right to be aware of the correct, up-to-date data about family violence. We have always supported efforts to reduce men’s violence against women. We have not, however, remained silent when violence against men is denied, downplayed and diminished by the use of incorrect and misleading facts and statistics.
White Ribbon further claimed, “We know that there has been a link between the two organisations [A Voice for Men and One in Three], which is quite concerning for us… White Ribbon as a campaign has not used similar strategies to discredit [One in Three]”.
One in Three have no links whatsoever with A Voice For Men. We would hope that White Ribbon Australia withdraws this misleading statement to the Committee that appears to be an attempt to discredit One in Three by association.
As One in Three’s Supplementary Submission mentioned other organisations, the Senate Committee gave those organisations a chance to reply to our Submission. You can read the responses by White Ribbon Australia and ANROWS.
During the second Melbourne hearing of the Inquiry on 5th November 2014, evidence was given by Mr Rodney Vlais, Acting Chief Executive Officer of No To Violence Male Family Violence Prevention Association Incorporated. After he had presented his evidence, Labor Senator Claire Moore asked,
“Could I quickly put a question on notice? Yesterday, we had evidence from an organisation called One in Three that made comment about male perpetrators and the approach. The Hansard of that evidence should be available within a couple of days. If you have the time, and I know you are both very busy, it would be useful if you could look at what was said there in that exchange about male perpetrators.”
In response to this Question on Notice, No To Violence put together this document which not only failed to answer Senator Moore’s question, but was a direct attack upon the work of One in Three. Unfortunately the Senate Committee didn’t give us a chance to respond to the attack by No To Violence in the same way they gave White Ribbon and ANROWS a chance to respond to our material.
Nevertheless, we drafted a detailed response to the No To Violence document and submitted it to the Senate Committee on 16th December 2014. The rules of Senate Inquiries prevented us from sharing this document until it had been considered by the Committee. Due to some ‘clerical errors,’ and despite monthly phone calls from One in Three to the Committee Secretariat, the Committee didn’t consider our response until 14th May 2015 – some 5 months after it was lodged! Instead of publishing our response on the Inquiry website as it did with No To Violence’s attack on us, instead the Committee,
“decided to accept your response to No to Violence’s answers to questions on notice as correspondence. This means that the senators have been supplied with your response and can continue to access it, although it won’t be published on the website.”
Highlights follow from No To Violence’s attack upon One in Three, and our rebuttal.
No to Violence stated, “From our perspective, the belief by the One in Three campaign that women’s domestic violence services should be available and accessible to men comes from a space of male entitlement-based expectations, and male righteousness, that the One in Three campaign does not appear to be aware of or understand.” “The One in Three campaign appears to have little or no understanding of why women-only spaces, and services exclusively for women, are required.”
One in Three has never argued that women’s domestic violence services should be available and accessible to men. We have simply argued that male victims need services too. The claims about male entitlement and righteousness made by No To Violence come from an inherently sexist attitude that has no basis whatsoever in evidence (and none was cited). This attitude casts disparaging stereotypes upon men and boys. The perspective One in Three takes is based upon global human rights frameworks where no one should be denied a service based upon their gender, race, sexual preference, religion, etc.
No to Violence claimed, “There is significant research supporting the need to be cautious in automatically assuming that a man assessed by police or another referring agent as a victim of domestic violence truly is the victim.”
While it is quite true that some male perpetrators can perceive themselves as victims of family violence, the same is true of female perpetrators. The two studies cited by No To Violence only examined claims of male victimisation / female perpetration because of their one-sided approach to researching family violence. If they had also examined claims of female victimisation / male perpetration, it is likely that a similar proportion of female “victims” would also be found to most likely be the perpetrators of violence (or that the violence in their relationship was mutual – the most prevalent form of family violence). Domestic violence pioneer Erin Pizzey discovered in the 1970s, when she opened the first domestic violence shelter in the UK, that many of the women approaching her shelter as victims were as violent as their male partners.
The gender profiling of male victims recommended by No To Violence, like racial and other forms of profiling, is a clear violation of the human rights of victims of violence.
No to Violence stated, “Michael Flood has provided possibly the most detailed and exhaustive review of studies focusing on gender issues in domestic violence. His paper can be downloaded from
The paper by Dr Flood cited by No To Violence is not actually a detailed and exhaustive review of studies focusing on gender issues in domestic violence. It appears to have been produced primarily to attack and undermine the work of Men’s Health Australia and One in Three using claims about the organisations that are are untrue and completely unsubstantiated/unreferenced. It is a seminar paper which has not been peer-reviewed. It has no bibliography, so the references cited are unable to be verified easily. Nevertheless, we are happy to respond to some of the points raised by No To Violence below.
No to Violence claimed, “Studies that employ methodologies to measure domestic violence in its true meaning – coercive control as a pattern over time and across a range of violent and controlling behaviours and tactics – generally find that women are the victims in 90-95% of situations.”
Dr Flood’s paper did not actually cite studies that employ methodologies to measure domestic violence in its true meaning. It instead references a single peer-reviewed journal article by Michael P. Johnson, titled “Gender and types of intimate partner violence: A response to an anti-feminist literature review.”
Dr Flood applied the findings from the Johnson article on the typology of intimate partner violence to the data from the 2005 ABS Personal Safety Survey. From this calculation, Dr Flood came up with the 90-95% figure quoted by No To Violence. However, Flood appears to have both misread Johnson’s findings and miscalculated the numbers involved.
A correct reading of Johnson, and a correct calculation using the more up-to-date 2012 ABS Personal Safety Survey data, finds that there were some 45,000 male victims (26%) and 128,000 female victims (74%) of severe/chronic violence during the past 12 months.
We have attached a full critique of Dr Flood’s paper as Appendix A to this document.
Johnson’s paper also contains the following findings:
Johnson’s findings support the One in Three position that the causes of family violence are extremely variable and include personality disorders (matters of attachment in particular), violence in one’s childhood home, substance abuse, couple communication issues, poor ability to manage relationship conflict and/or poor control of anger.
“For more than a decade (Johnson & Ferraro, 2000) my feminist colleagues and I have incorporated Holtzworth-Munroe’s work into our analysis of intimate terrorism, work that centers on matters of personality in general, and attachment in particular. And my work with Alison Cares demonstrates the relationship between violence in one’s childhood home and male intimate terrorism (Johnson, 2008; Johnson & Cares, 2004), a central tenet of the learning approach to understanding intimate partner violence. As I have noted above, and in a number of published pieces, substance abuse and couple communication issues are central to any analysis of situational couple violence (Johnson, 2006b, 2007), and my analyses of situational couple violence have always emphasized the extreme variability of its causes.”
A simplistic reductionist view that “gender” is the cause of family violence will fail to reduce the levels of violence in the Australian community.
Johnson’s findings support the One in Three position that the best use of limited resources is not to provide services to female victims and exclude male victims, but to put in place a triage system to identify the most severe cases of violence and abuse, so they can be treated appropriately:
“courts and other institutions need to use all of the assessment tools at their disposal to identify what type of intimate partner violence is involved in each particular case in order to decide on an appropriate course of action.”
“The dramatic differences among intimate terrorism, violent resistance, and situational couple violence make it essential that the family courts make these distinctions in order to do the right thing with respect to the adults involved, and to serve the best interests of the children.”
“Current research provides considerable support for differentiating among types of intimate partner violence, and such differentiations should provide benefits to those required to make recommendations and decisions about custody and parenting plans, treatment programs, and legal sanctions”
Johnson acknowledges that women’s violence is a serious social issue which must be addressed.
“women both initiate violence and participate in mutual violence and that, particularly in teenage and young adult samples, women perpetrate violence against their partners more frequently than do the men”
“repeat, severe violence against a non-violent intimate is symmetrical by gender”
“I and others have always noted that situational couple violence
(a) is far and away the most common form of intimate partner violence,
(b) is perpetrated about equally by men and women, and
(c) can be extremely consequential.”
The members of the One in Three Campaign are saddened that gaining support for males affected by family violence has become so mired in unnecessary and destructive gender politics. We are working towards a future where all people will be given the recognition and support they need to reclaim their lives after experiencing family violence, and where family violence is reduced as the result of effective primary prevention and early intervention strategies.