Psychology’s war on men

Flat White

13 September 2019

5:00 AM

American pharmaceutical companies aren’t allowed to advertise on Australian TV unless you’re talking over-the-counter cold tablets or pain killers. Which means you never hear “side effects may include involuntary paralysis” between episodes of Shark Week down under.

A dose of the potential paralytic might’ve eased the 24-hour flight time from Western Australia to speak at the Fifth International Conference on Men’s Issues, or ICMI 2019, in Chicago.

Paul Elam of A Voice for Men established the annual event to offer leading experts and advocates a free-speech forum to talk turkey about a growing list of struggles the average bloke experiences across his life span.

Paul was featured in the award-winning documentary, The Red Pill, due to his social media celebrity won from producing online videos that offer men his trademark wake-up call to read the writing on the wall.

By encouraging his viewers to take a closer look at the growing tide of anti-male forces working in government, culture and relationships he’s empowered hundreds of thousands of men, some at the end of their rope, with hope.

I met Paul, a fellow Texan, last year during an online interview for his popular YouTube channel. From my Perth apartment, I told the story of my forced resignation from Relationships Australia, a government-funded, national counselling agency.

I lost an eight-year counselling job for circulating, amongst colleagues, Bettina Arndt’s newspaper article Always Beating Up on Men. Arndt’s work compiled longitudinal academic studies with international statistics clearly showing that most often, domestic violence between couples is two way; a fact the Aussie government’s domestic violence industry has failed to acknowledge until this year.

During our Skype chat, I described to Paul how the self-proclaimed feminist CEO of Relationships Australia called a meeting and argued that my spotless work record and two recent pay bumps “didn’t matter”. “Bettina Arndt is right-wing!” she exclaimed sitting up in her chair and alleged my actions breached the organization’s ‘gendered’ (male is to blame) domestic violence policy.

According to the top executive, I was infected with “unconscious bias” and unsuited to continue counselling my clients at the taxpayer-backed agency.

Ironically, Psychology’s War on Men was the first panel discussion to kick-off the Chicago conference weekend. I was invited to co-present with four giants of the men’s rights movement who’ve endured their own character assassination and job terminations to continue raising awareness about key men’s issues. Issues such as:

  • A global male suicide epidemic where young, middle-aged and senior men kill themselves at a rate of 42 per week in Australia, 83 per week in the UK and 635 per week in America.
  • Family Court practices and divorce laws that leave many fathers alienated from their children, broke and suicidal.
  • Overlooked and underfunded men’s medical health issues like prostate cancer, heart health and men’s depression.
  • Public and university education systems failing to effectively engage boys and young men.
  • Feminist-framed mental health policies that categorize men’s psychological nature as deficient and ‘toxic’.

The panel unanimously denounced the American Psychological Association’s recent radical decision to make ‘toxic masculinity’ an official diagnosis.

Stephanie Pappas’s article, APA Issues First-Ever Guidelines for Practice with Men and Boys reveals how the American Psychological Association is writing treatment policies that claim “traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful”.

The article points just how far down feminism’s anti-male ‘rabbit hole’ the powerful APA has gone. Pappas summarizes, “the main thrust… is that traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole harmful”.

Speaking as a veteran couples counsellor, I explained to the conference crowd that any ‘fly’ observing a couple’s session would likely report all these characteristics active in both genders. Of course, women can be stoic, competitive, dominant and aggressive.

These adaptive behaviour potentials are biologically hardwired across a wide range of social mammals and, in human relationships, can be acted out either constructively or destructively.

I added, “for couples counselling to work, individual counterproductive behaviours have to be called out in real-time on both sides of the fence”. Which gives the angry partner or partners an opportunity to check themselves and take a ‘time-out’ before things get ugly. Couples Conflict 101.

Studies reveal that mild to moderate levels of domestic violence (aka common couples’ violence) respond well to counselling strategies that treat both partners as equal stakeholders in their relationship.

Elements of severe domestic violence include socioeconomic status, unemployment, poor mental health, alcoholism and drug abuse which often require criminal justice interventions.

To the crowd of 250 plus conference-goers, in the Sheraton Chicago grand ballroom, I wrapped up my two cents by congratulating the Australian government, for the first time ever, earmarking $10 million to fund couples counselling for common couples’ violence.

Government-funded couples counselling will work if implemented without the paralysing side-effects of ‘gendered’ feminist policies. Interventions that fail to educate both partners how to de-escalate interpersonal conflict and manage their tempers better, can’t, don’t and will never work.

The Sixth International Conference of Men’s Issues 2020 will be held in Sydney.

Rob Tiller (robtiller.com.au) is a counsellor specialising in supporting men and couples from his Perth office (or online for out-of-area clients). He’s also available to present a range of personal and professional development workshops around Australia.

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False Domestic Violence Complaints Ruin Lives

by Sonia Hickey & Ugur Nedim
False accusation

Domestic violence has reached epidemic levels in Australia.

The figures show that on average, one person is killed every week at the hands of their current or former partner. Shelters, crisis services, and frontline community legal centres are stretched to the limit.

The Prime Minister has called the problem a ‘National Disgrace‘, and governments at federal and state levels have committed extra funding to address the issue.

But there’s another side of the coin – a side that’s rarely talked about.

Just as there are many genuine cases of domestic violence every day, there are also people who seek to abuse the system by wrongly accusing partners for their own purposes.

False accusations

False allegations of domestic violence can be made in the heat of the moment – in anger, and the accuser may soon regret the complaint, admit it was fabricated and seek to have the AVO application and/or the assault charges withdrawn.

Where police have brought an application on behalf of a ‘PINOP’ (person in need of protection), they will often refuse to withdraw it despite the admission.

Other false applications are made in an attempt to obtain revenge against a partner for a perceived misdeeds, even after an unwanted ‘break up’.

Sadly, false complaints are even made in an attempt to sway family law proceedings or bolster civil claims.

Apprehended Violence Orders

AVOs are intended to protect persons who are genuinely in need of protection from violence, intimidation, harassment or other forms of interference.

Provisional and interim AVOs can be implemented quickly and with relative ease, without the need to ‘prove’ anything.

Police have even been given the power to issue ‘on the spot’ AVOs in certain circumstances, without having to obtain the approval of a magistrate.

And once an application is made, it can take several months for the actual AVO hearing to occur.

The process can be stressful and expensive for the defendant, who may decide to ‘consent’ to a final AVO ‘without admissions’ to get the whole thing over and done with; despite their innocence.

And while an AVO is not a criminal record, it can have significant implications for the future – making it harder to obtain, or even prohibiting defendants from obtaining or retaining, a range of licences. AVOs can thereby limit a person’s employment options, or even cause them to lose their job, not to mention adversely affect their reputation.

The other side of the story…

Criminal defence lawyers frequently encounter situations where there is little or no evidence to support an allegation of domestic violence, but police nevertheless make an AVO application and/or press charges, and continue on with a prosecution.

There are cases where significant and sustained assaults are alleged but there are no marks or other injuries, where evidence at an incident scene is completely inconsistent with the complaint, where the complainant’s multiple statements are so inconsistent they are irreconcilable, and even cases where police possess CCTV footage that exonerates the defendant but make excuses to delay the service of that crucial evidence.

In many cases, police can take several months to withdraw the AVO and/or the criminal charges, and may even let cases run all the way to a defended hearing – causing unjust and unnecessary stress and expense to the innocent defendant.

In such cases, a magistrate is ultimately likely to dismiss the AVO and the charges, and even order police to pay the defendant’s legal costs (although it can be harder to get costs in domestic AVO cases), but this may do little to deter police from acting in the same manner again – after all, the taxpayer foots the bill for costs orders against police, not the offending police officer. In many cases, the emotional and financial damage to the innocent defendant has already been done.

In one of our recent cases, a woman alleged that she had been assaulted by her boyfriend outside a hotel in Newtown.

Police made an application for an AVO on behalf of the woman and pressed assault charges. They quickly obtained CCTV footage from outside the hotel, but were reluctant to serve it despite court orders and a subpoena.

When the footage was ultimately served, it clearly showed that the woman was the aggressor, that the defendant was trying to calm her down, and it was her that was hitting her boyfriend – not the other way around.

Despite being in possession of the footage early on, police took months to withdraw the AVO application and the charges – and not before the defendant had been made a social pariah and lost his job, and reputation when his partner defamed him to his friends and colleagues.

The problem is that vindictive complaints can put someone through personal hell, clog up the courts and can even make it harder for genuine victims.

Any costs order in favour of the defendant and civil award for damages is little recompense for the damage inflicted – and police will rarely prosecute a domestic violence complainant over a false complaint.

False complaints are a crime

That said, there are a number of laws which make it a criminal offence to make a false complaint to police.

One of these laws is section 314 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)(‘the Act’), which prescribes a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment for anyone who makes an accusation with the intention that another person be subjected to an investigation, while knowing that the other person is innocent.

For someone to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove that:

  • the accusation was in fact false,
  • the accusation was deliberately made with the intention of having another person investigated, and
  • The person who made the accusation knew the other person was innocent.

There is also the offence of attempting to pervert the course of justice under section 319 of the Act which carries a maximum penalty of 14 year imprisonment, perjury under section 327 which carries up to 10 years; and perjury with intent to procure a conviction or acquittal under section 328 which comes with up to 14 years – but, again, it can be an uphill battle to convince police or the DPP to bring criminal charges in the context of an alleged domestic assault.

Authors

Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist and owner of ‘Woman with Words’. She has a strong interest in social justice, and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team.

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with over 20 years of experience in criminal defence. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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Posted in Domestic Violence, False Allegations, Hot Topics | Leave a comment