Nice to know there are plenty of people who have not been hoodwinked by the biased campaign presenting women as the only victims of domestic violence. Since my recent article, Silent Victims, was published in theWeekend Australian I have been flooded with emails from people who know this is far from the truth. I have heard from many men and women who grew up in homes with violent mothers and many males who suffered appalling physical and emotional abuse from their partners.

The lack of resources for male victims is just extraordinary. I was particularly struck by news that $100,000 was awarded to support pets of female victims in Victoria but not a cent for men suffering abuse.

It’s heartening to hear from so many people who are keen to help in some way to try to change the debate around this issue in Australia. I have an idea which might get this moving and hope you might find time in the next few days to get involved. Timing is crucial!

Every year I grind my teeth on White Ribbon Day listening to listening to their spokespeople misrepresent this issue, fudging the statistics and totally denying any responsibility for women in family violence. Next week across the country many hundreds of people are running White Ribbon events, over 500 people are now Ambassadors, pushing the party line. See this White Ribbon link

Many of the sportsmen and other eminent people who are involved in this are well-meaning, assuming they are simply helping our society overcome a critical social problem. It is very likely they have never been presented with the facts included in my article, the 40 years of research showing most family violence involves both men and women and mothers are the major abusers of children.

I feel we need to respectfully approach these people and inform them that we are not denying the importance of the work they are doing in addressing the issue of violent men but unfortunately they are also being drawn into a divisive campaign which distorts the truth about family violence and denies many victims the chance to be heard and supported.

So for anyone who would like to turn this issue around, I suggest you urgently investigate the White Ribbon events in your local area, find out who are the local ambassadors and contact them, presenting the true facts in a calm, polite way. If you need help in putting together emails to send them, send a blank email to domesticviolencetruth@gmail.comand you will automatically receive in response another email containing information you can use in your letters.

We should also send emails to members of the White Ribbon Board. Many of these are respected members of the business community who will have no desire to be caught up in ideological campaigns. They may not be aware that the organization is now attracting such critical examination.

The media will also be giving White Ribbon representatives a huge run next week so be alert to when these interviews are playing and participate where possible in talk-backs, or write comments following online articles. Use social media to draw attention to wrong statistics and other misrepresentations. The One in Three Website has a huge data set of proper statistics you can use to correct misinformation.  Contact producers of the relevant programmes and ask for more balanced reporting of the issue. Report unbalanced reporting on the ABC to their complaints department and CEO, Mark Scott.

For instance there’s Sarah Ferguson’s TV special: to be shown on Tuesday November 24th and Wednesday the 25th. This is clearly aimed at perpetuating the distorted debate on this issue. You can already make complaints based on the promotion for this programme.

Virginia Trioli is holding a Q&A on Wednesday November 25 following Ferguson’s show. She’s one of the worst offenders when it comes to dismissing women’s violence against men. Do try to get involved in this programme. See here for information: Perhaps you can think of questions you can put to the Q&A panel which would highlight the issues. Make them short and lively or you won’t get on. Also clever tweets would be worth trying.

It will really help if we can encourage more women to be involved in this way. It’s just a little harder for the campaigners to ignore our arguments if they come from women, particularly those with direct experience with this issue.

If you have any other ideas which can help, please post comments below.

The domestic violence lobby groups have got away with their distorted campaign for far too long because they have silenced their critics. I am shocked by how many people have written to me saying I was ‘brave’ or ‘courageous’ to speak out on this issue. Come on! We live in a free, democratic society and none of us should be nervous about being heard on this important issue. But nothing will change unless we all start making sure we get our message across.

4 Responses to Domestic violence and White Ribbon day – help change the debate

  1. Greg Canning November 21, 2015 at 10:03 am # 

    Thank you Bettina, your suggestions for bringing some balance to this debate are great and I will encourage as many as I am able, to be involved. Thanks you for the outstanding article in the Australian and your commitment to fair treatment and support for all victims of family violence regardless of gender, sexuality or other differences.

  2. John Ashfield November 21, 2015 at 12:48 pm # 

    How does it serve the best interests of women who experience domestic/intimate partner violence for data on this issue to be used selectively and for the more complex picture and better understanding such data reveal to be censored? Yet this is what has been happening shamelessly for the last several decades since my first involvement as a practitioner working with women experiencing such violence.

    That males experience domestic/intimate partner violence in disturbingly significant numbers, cannot and must not be ignored if we care at all about women, because this fact modifies significantly many of the former assumptions that have shaped our response to this issue; a response that has unsurprisingly been largely ineffectual despite the expenditure of countless millions of dollars.

    Quite obviously, in this area evidence and intellectual rigor have been sidelined by a gender ideology that is less concerned about women than its own self-serving fundamentalist agenda. And sadly, because of lazy (and arguably unethical) journalism, misinformed social and pseudo-academic commentary, and self-serving ideology, many good and genuine people have unwittingly been caught up in a very skewed and counter-productive ideological agenda.

    If we care about women (and men) who are daily abused and harmed by domestic violence, we have to transcend popular gender ideology and seek out the very best evidence to understand and address this problem. No other approach has intellectual or moral legitimacy, nor will finally provide us with truly useful and constructive solutions.

  3. Giles Watson November 21, 2015 at 1:53 pm # 

    As a male former victim of domestic violence who recovered from his ordeal not through any assistance from “male rights” lunatics but through the support of other compassionate, caring women, I support the White Ribbon Campaign, and always will. If the “activists” who disapprove of the White Ribbon Campaign were really intending to combat violence, then you would not be able to write a sentence such as “The lack of resources for male victims is just extraordinary”. The reason why there are resources (still clearly quite insufficient given that there were eleven women who died at the hands of men this year in my region alone) for dealing with male violence against women, is because women have worked tirelessly over decades to provide some measure of protection and support for each other. Men haven’t done the same.

    Meanwhile, the so-called “men’s rights groups” that you support spend their time whining and undermining this important work, and now you advise them to waste the time of anti-dv campaigners by ringing them and hampering them in the lead-up to this week’s campaign. If men’s rights groups had campaigned instead against domestic abuse in all its forms, taking practical measures to spread compassion and mercy rather than sniping at those people who have already created such measures for women, we might now be at the stage where everyone who is concerned about violence could present a united front against it.

    Many of my friends who are active in the White Ribbon Campaign and other anti-dv campaigns are themselves the former victims of domestic violence. Others have fought tirelessly for years to rescue both women and men from hideous male violence. These people have the courage to combat violence at its roots, and they often do so at considerable personal and psychological cost. It is very difficult indeed to see why anyone would wish to seek to undermine this work, unless they were themselves abusers, or seeking to please those who perpetuate an abusive system – but that is what
    you appear to be doing.

  4. Bettina November 21, 2015 at 3:19 pm # 

    You are deliberately misunderstanding what we are trying to do. We are not proposing to undermine the important efforts of White Ribbon to address the issue of men’s violence. I support that work totally. What I don’t understand is why White Ribbon is so determined to deny the truth about violence in the home. What we want them to do is to, as you put it, is campaign against domestic abuse in all its forms, taking practical measures to spread compassion and mercy. Surely that is not such a big ask?