What about male victims of domestic violence? White Ribbon, men and violence: A response to Dr Michael Flood by Men’s Health Australia
April 4, 2012
The White Ribbon Foundation is an organisation that works to prevent male violence towards women – a goal that is extremely worthy and worth supporting. The White Ribbon website states that “all forms of violence are unacceptable,” however in 2009 the organisation issued a document to it’s male Ambassadors which used erroneous ‘facts and statistics’ to downplay, diminish and report incorrectly about male victims of violence. These Ambassadors use federal government funding to take the White Ribbon message into regional, rural and remote communities. These significant errors could have led the Ambassadors, and through them the general public via federal funding, to be misled about the nature and dynamics of interpersonal violence in Australia.
Some of the dangerous myths about violence circulated in the document include claims that men are less likely than women to experience violence within family and other relationships; that we don’t yet know the impact of violence on men’s overall health; and that there is no evidence that male victims are less likely to report domestic violence than are female victims.
Men’s Health Australia – Australia’s primary source of information about the social and psychological wellbeing of men and boys – contacted White Ribbon with its concerns about this document. Men’s Health believes that violence prevention is not a competition: that governments and NGOs can work to prevent violence against women and violence against men. We believe it isn’t necessary for White Ribbon to downplay, diminish or report incorrectly about male victims of violence in order to highlight the tragedy of female victims of violence. The horrific statistics about violence against women speak for themselves.
Men’s Health Australia are fully supportive of all attempts to reduce violence against women. However we believe it is essential that a high-profile organisation such as the White Ribbon Foundation provides its Ambassadors and the general public with an accurate picture of violence in Australian society, especially when in receipt of federal government funding. It is only when we start with an accurate picture of violence that we can take the necessary steps to reduce its incidence and impact. If we start with an inaccurate picture, our violence-prevention strategies are bound to be less effective, and could potentially cause harm – especially to children.