Male victims want equal support

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Male victims of domestic violence are struggling to be taken seriously or given adequate support, writes Claudia Alp.

Male victims of family violence in Australia are not given enough access to support, according to domestic violence victim Franc Majcen.

Majcen, 34, from New South Wales, said he suffered physical and verbal assault from his female partner during monthly arguments which gradually increased to once or twice a week and continued for over two years.

Majcen contacted authorities during some of these altercations but was told to “man up”. “They treated it like I wasn’t being abused or assaulted,” he said.

In 2014, Victoria Police statistics reported that 15,230 men in Australia were victims of family violence, with most aged between 40 to 44.

Regional journalist and past victim of domestic violence, Ron, said the lack of faith in male victims who report domestic violence was causing a reluctance to speak out.

“It’s deeply rooted in us all [males] to be tough and take it on the chin and you’re weak if you don’t,” he said.

One morning, during an argument, Majcen’s ex-partner hit him on the temple. When he saw her preparing to punch him a second time, he pushed her away.

“If I had taken that second one I would’ve been out cold on the floor,” he said. “My first instinct was to push her away and run with my kids.”

“I’ve worked in security. I’ve done training in self-defence in three different types of martial arts and I’ve taken hits. A woman can hit just as hard as a male can.”

Majcen took their children to his ex-partner’s parents before calling a refuge, but though sympathetic, none of the services catered for male victims.

When he returned to the house to pick up supplies, the police arrested him on domestic violence charges. When he told them what happened, they told him to fight it in court.

Majcen was not given access to legal aid or allowed to appeal his charges. “Whenever I called solicitors or legal aid I was always told I had nothing to stand on because I was male,” he said.

Social worker, Andrew Humphries has worked with both male and female victims of domestic violence and assisted 24 adult male victims of domestic violence in the last five years.

He said support usually occurs when family or community groups get involved for the safety of the children or if the man is seriously injured, but often, it’s inadequate.

“The screening tools they use in our hospitals only have positions on the form for female victims,” he said. “And when they’re in court they’re on their own.”

“I’ve had a bloke beaten up by the brothers of the woman that assaulted him outside the courthouse because he was denied access to the safe-room. It’s female only.”

Majcen went to television programs Sunrise and A Current Affair hoping to create some awareness for the lack of support for male victims, but the response was disappointing.

“They didn’t want anything to do with it. They even made me feel like I was the perpetrator,” he said. “We’re guilty. We’re always guilty. Even when proven innocent, we’re still guilty.”

The Royal Commission into Family Violence report released in March acknowledged that the family violence system in Victoria needed to “respond more supportively” to male victims of domestic violence.

The report stated that: “Like all victims of family violence, male victims should have their experiences acknowledged and have access to appropriate responses.”

Mr Humphries said there was room for improvement. “No matter how many there are, to deny them access to support services is a fundamental social justice and human rights issue.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing or suffering with mental health issues contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or through www.lifeline.org.au

Similarly if you or someone you know is experiencing sexual assault, and/or domestic or family violence call 1800RESPECT or visit www.1800respect.org.au for information and support.