Log In

Reset Password

Domestic violence goes both ways

First Prev 1 2 Next Last
Edward Tavares is the cofounder of ChildWatch, a father’s rights advocacy group

On November 17, the United Nations recognises International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Men. The theme is “Domestic Violence Against Men: Lift the Shroud of Silence”.

We have heard a lot from the women’s groups on the issue of domestic violence. How about male victimisation of domestic violence? Or Intimate Partner Violence, as it is known to many researchers. Why don’t we have any studies?

We at ChildWatch have noticed that when IPV is spoken of in Bermuda, there is always rejection or pushback from society on the acceptance that it happens to men. However, it does happen on a large scale, within the local and global sphere, while talk of it is has been suppressed for decades.

Why is Bermudian society reluctant to accept overseas research, claiming that we are unique and not like the rest of the world? Are we really unique? Meantime, many other groups use worldwide research data and no one ever questions them.

Domestic violence has many broad definitions today, which are described as patterns and incidents of physical, emotional, controlling, threatening, degrading, violent behaviours, sexual violence, parental alienation, coercive control, intimidation and legal administrative abuse.

Denise Hines said in her presentation at Father and Family Conference 2022 in Toronto that the research on men’s victimisation of IPV has been suppressed since the 1970s. When researchers Richard J. Gelles and Murray A. Straus described men’s victimisation of IPV in their research findings — a feature of their coauthored books The Violent Home and Physical Violence in American Families — they were terrorised by women’s rights groups whenever and wherever they tried to present their research.

Errin Pizzey, author of Prone to Violence, who opened the first women’s shelter in Britain, recognised that women were just as violent as men — or more so. When Ms Pizzey brought this to the public’s attention, she also faced women’s threats in the form of bombing, physical violence against her and her family. Her family pet was killed. She fled the country and found refuge in California.

Dr Hines’s research revealed that men’s experiences are similar to women’s in many ways, with respect to physical abuse, controlling behaviours, severe psychological abuse and sexual abuse. She reports also that men’s victimisation of abuse impacts their mental health and physical health.

How do men deal with IPV? Dr Hines’s study shows that 33 per cent to 50 per cent of victims in partner violence in any given year are men. “Men are faced with barriers internally and externally.”

Dr Hines’s samples of men for her research were from the United States, England, New Zealand, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Scotland and Wales. Her 2021 study revealed men’s experiences to be:

• Severe psychological abuse (91 per cent)

• Controlling behaviours (88.4 per cent)

• Threatened legal/administration (77.6 per cent)

• Minor physical abuse (95.3 per cent)

• Severe physical abuse (85.5 per cent)

• Any physical abuse (96.5 per cent)

• Very severe physical abuse (63 per cent)

• Minor injury (75.1 per cent)

• Severe injury (59 per cent)

• Any injury (81.4 per cent)

Why men didn’t seek help owing to barriers when it comes to police:

• Falsely accused of domestic violence (35.3 per cent)

• Police wouldn’t consider it important (29.4 per cent)

• Don’t want the partner in trouble (27.9 per cent)

• Fear of revenge (26.9 per cent)

• Don’t want hassle of dealing with police (25.4 per cent)

Why men didn’t seek help owing to barriers when it comes to legal professionals:

• Falsely accused by partner (28.7 per cent)

• Committed to relationship (23.7 per cent)

• I would lose everything (22.4 per cent)

• Don’t want to get partner in legal trouble (22.4 per cent)

• Fear of revenge (21.8 per cent)

• Would cause me legal trouble (21.5 per cent)

ChildWatch would like to provide a few examples of men’s/fathers’ experiences of domestic abuse, IPV, as described by Dr Hines and others:

John (name changed) suffered years of legal administration abuse and coercive control, while experiencing years of being denied a relationship with his child. His child was born prematurely, thus John visited the hospital during that time until suddenly he was told that he was not allowed to visit any more. Later, John found out that his child was in a foster home, and that the child’s mother had given up her custodial rights and had left Bermuda. However, John has never given up his custodial rights. He was allowed to have his child for only a few hours every other Wednesday during the time his child was with the foster parents. When a problem occurred with the foster parents, the child was given up for adoption. On one occasion in 2019, he was allowed to take his son to the doctor; since then, he has not been allowed to see him. Meantime, during this process, John had mentioned to the courts that he had a family member that could assist him in raising his child. No investigation was ever done, and the adoption succeeded. Since the adoption, the adoptive parents have alleged that he was abusive to them, which is untrue. Meantime, the adoptive parents receive monthly subsidies to assist with rent, groceries and extracurricular bills. Today, the boy is 11 years old and John is still prevented from having a relationship with his child — lost time that can never be recovered.

Richard (name changed) has encountered physical violence, threats, property damage, along with personal clothing and other damages through his ex-wife’s behaviours. Consequently, when he seeks help, he is ignored by the police and the professionals. As a result, he is left traumatised, and nothing has been done to resolve these assaults and property damage. Thus, he is very distraught about the present system. Fortunately, there are no children involved. However, the property damage will cost him thousands of dollars to repair. Meanwhile, his ex-wife has not been made accountable for the damages she has committed. If Richard were to assault his ex-wife, he would be sent to prison and made to pay for the damages. However, there are double standards for men and women. Attached is a picture of Richard’s arm, showing the bite and some of the assault.

The wounds incurred by Richard during a run-in with his ex-wife

Mark (name changed) experienced the loss of his child through “parental alienation” effected for years by his ex-wife. Some researchers would call it “maternal gatekeeping” or “child held hostage” — forms of emotional and coercive abuse.

Mark said: “In the beginning of the divorce, my daughter would look forward to spending time with me. On one occasion, my daughter started to cry while we were driving to our destination.” So he stopped the car and asked her, “Why are you crying? What’s wrong?” His daughter stated that “every time we would spend time together, my mother would question me as to what we did and what was said about her”. This caused his daughter so much stress and trauma beyond belief.

On another occasion, he said: “I went to pick up my daughter according to the court order. When I knocked at the door and could hear the mother saying, ‘don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry, I would not let the monster take you!’” Even with a court order, he was ordered to present himself at the police station, and ended up not having his child. Another time, at a government office, he said: “I crossed paths with my daughter, and she covered her face with her hair and hurried out the door”. On many occasions, “the mother would lie and state that my daughter wasn’t home. Meanwhile, the mother would tell my child that I never came to see her”.

This went on for 11 years, with no compliance to any court orders, but his ex-wife was never dealt with by the courts. Therefore, he said: “My child has grown up with emotional scars, that will last for ever. I, too, was forcefully made to overpay child support beyond my legal requirement; yet, I have not been compensated. Apparently, no one ever cared as to the lost time with my daughter.”

Horribly, many of these traumas — adverse childhood experiences — are not visible to the human eye, but can be very devastating to children of all ages. ChildWatch fathers have experienced similar situations for decades, as Dr Hines describes. Our children suffer the loss, but society acquires substitutes to pacify our children instead of doing the right thing. At present, no one seems to care about the traumas inflicted upon our children. Nor do they see the correlation between gang violence/drug addiction and the family breakdown, underpinned by these traumatic events.

• Edward Tavares is the cofounder of ChildWatch, a fathers’ rights advocacy group

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published November 11, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated November 10, 2023 at 4:43 pm)

Domestic violence goes both ways

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon