Targeting men in DV outreach

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Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by reboot on Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:32 am

I read this blog by Jem Bloomfield about the backlash against an anti-domestic violence campaign in Greenwich England. Some people object because the campaign plays on traditional masculine roles (e.g. "Dad's have the strength to change") and that women commit domestic violence too. Bloomfield writes about (and he counters) a third set of objections: the campaign alienates men and makes them feel bad.

What do you think of Bloomfield's piece? Do you think there would be an effective way to do outreach on domestic violence to men, who are the perpetrators in 85% of reported crimes (that stat is likely inflated due to underreporting by male victims but it is the current "fact on the ground" for social services and criminal justice)? What would your campaign look like?
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by JP McBride on Thu Sep 03, 2015 1:55 pm

It erases male victims and victims of female perpetrators. That should be the end of the argument about whether we should have gendered anti-DV violence campaigns.

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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by eselle28 on Thu Sep 03, 2015 2:07 pm

I'd say that any campaign should include male victims. I think some of the messages may need to be different, simply because people's understanding of domestic violence is different. I do think that the message in the current campaign may have some use to certain abusers, by making the connection between partner violence and the emotional abuse of children.

If the campaign included women abusing men, I think the message might need to be tweaked a bit, because people (abusers, victims, the public) are less likely to identify a woman shaking her fist at a man as a signal of abuse. Campaigns about male victims of violence by women probably need to start by getting the message across that it is abuse before jumping to the next step of "and it hurts your kids, too." Some of the wording might need to be changed as well, since many mothers and fathers still see their parenting roles as distinct and gendered. I'm not sure it's helpful to ask people to deconstruct that while we're trying to get through to people about seeking anger management counseling and the like.
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by Enail on Thu Sep 03, 2015 3:03 pm

I'm inclined to agree with Bloomfield's argument to some degree. There are cases where you do need to speak to a particular group and to discuss bad things some people in that group do, and if doing those things is inherently alienating, that may mean that some people need to be alienated. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that people of that group who don't do the bad things to recognize that it's not talking to them - though I have to admit, I don't fully understand that reaction since I don't tend to experience that when I am part of the group being targeted, so I might not be giving that experience enough weight.

And since there is a gendered pattern in the information we have, I think that it's reasonable to have some ads within a campaign on domestic violence that are targeted towards male perpetrators/female victims, especially since advertising in general seems to find gendering ads is more effective than not having a gendered audience in mind. But since I think it's also fairly clear that male survivors are almost certainly under-reporting and are often dismissed or denigrated, and there is a lack of awareness of female perpetrators, I do think it's irresponsible not to include some ads targeted to female perpetrators/male victims, though I agree with Eselle that they'd probably need some tweaking to be effective.

I actually saw a pretty good set of posters against domestic violence and sexual assault on men just this morning, primarily directed at female perpetrators, but I can't find it again.  It focused on common myths (one was something like "an erection is not consent"), and I've seen similar campaigns for domestic violence in same-sex relationships. I think that kind of situation/harmful attitude-based approach would work well for a more wide-ranging campaign, that could include gendered messages as well as some ads where the gender of the perpetrator or victim are not specified.
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by Izmuth on Thu Sep 03, 2015 3:26 pm

Reboot, I wouldn't give statistics like "reported crimes", even if you admit they're overinflated. Except if you're trying to make the point that it's a damn shame it's treated as "fact on the ground" for social service. (which it is!)

You could better look at something like murder rates to compare. It's harder to underreport something you can objectively measure. Far as I figure, about 1 in 3 - 1 in 4 victims of partner homicide was a man murdered by a woman.

(By the way, if really the only reason you only ever see posters of domestic violence dealing with M on F abuse was really just an issue of "This group is more likely to suffer from domestic violence and therefore we focus on them", we should focus on women of colour.)

Fact is, women abusing men makes the general public uncomfortable. It forces them to face the fact abuse isn't purely about strength. It forces them to admit that maybe, just maybe, we shouldn't include a scene in every. damn. movie. of a woman slapping a man, in a situation where if he slapped her, he would directly slap her.

What I'd propose: Since by low estimates at least 1 in seven men is a victim of domestic violence by a woman, at least 1 in seven posters should be dealing with that.

I'd start a campaign with posters like:

"You're a man. Just take it like one"
"Women can't abuse men"
"Why don't you just man up?"

With a picture of a volunteer that was beaten up by a woman in the background, getting stabbed by these sentences.
And then:

"It's also abuse when she does it. Speak up, don't become a statistic. Contact XXXX-XXXX-XXXX"
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by reboot on Thu Sep 03, 2015 3:31 pm

Messages targeted to address female on male domestic violence will probably have to start at the very basic level that ads for male on female domestic started at in the 1970-1980s (unfortunately). I mean, as at a society, it is still considered totally OK to depict women hitting men as funny. It is going to be another 30-40 years before awareness gets where it is.

However, male on female violence still needs to be addressed as well, especially since the overwhelming number of people killed in domestic violence are women killed by male partners, followed by men killed by male partners. The fatality data tends to be accurate because deaths are almost always reported, investigated, and the perpetrators found (2 people in a house, 1 is dead is an easy case).

Because of this, like enail and Bloomfield, I think ads targeted towards men are useful, despite the discomfort they cause some men who cannot separate themselves from the message. Lots of public service and public health messaging makes people uncomfortable, be it smokers, drunk drivers, those who have unprotected sex, etc.. You need to target those doing the unsafe behavior to address the problem or it is not going to work. I do wish they could come up with messages that did not play on old school views of masculinity, but they are so common and you want to be effective, I see why they use it.
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by reboot on Thu Sep 03, 2015 3:34 pm

Izmuth wrote:Reboot, I wouldn't give statistics like "reported crimes", even if you admit they're overinflated. Except if you're trying to make the point that it's a damn shame it's treated as "fact on the ground" for social service. (which it is!)

You could better look at something like murder rates to compare. It's harder to underreport something you can objectively measure. Far as I figure, about 1 in 3 - 1 in 4 victims of partner homicide was a man murdered by a woman.

(By the way, if really the only reason you only ever see posters of domestic violence dealing with M on F abuse was really just an issue of "This group is more likely to suffer from domestic violence and therefore we focus on them", we should focus on women of colour.)

Fact is, women abusing men makes the general public uncomfortable. It forces them to face the fact abuse isn't purely about strength. It forces them to admit that maybe, just maybe, we shouldn't include a scene in every. damn. movie. of a woman slapping a man, in a situation where if he slapped her, he would directly slap her.

What I'd propose: Since by low estimates at least 1 in seven men is a victim of domestic violence by a woman, at least 1 in seven posters should be dealing with that.

I'd start a campaign with posters like:

"You're a man. Just take it like one"
"Women can't abuse men"
"Why don't you just man up?"

With a picture of a volunteer that was beaten up by a woman in the background, getting stabbed by these sentences.
And then:

"It's also abuse when she does it. Speak up, don't become a statistic. Contact XXXX-XXXX-XXXX"

The fatality data for domestic violence is as accurate as any data there is since deaths are are generally reported. There is also generally no dispute abot who the perpetrator is. And if you think we can ignore the fact that women and men are killed by male partners at a far greater rate than they are killed by women partners, I am going to have to dispute that.
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by Izmuth on Thu Sep 03, 2015 4:58 pm

reboot wrote:
The fatality data for domestic violence is as accurate as any data there is since deaths are are generally reported. There is also generally no dispute abot who the perpetrator is.

I'm not sure what you mean? I'd say it's harder underreport murder, since you have a corpse that needs to be explained, than it is to underreport violence, since victims can stay silent about it.


And if you think we can ignore the fact that women and men are killed by male partners at a far greater rate than they are killed by women partners, I am going to have to dispute that.

Ah, no, that was not my intention. I tried to make the point that although it happens significantly less, it doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but people like to try to pretend there's no problem because it happens less is an easy reason not to care.

Case in point:

Even if 1 in 10 fatal victims is a man killed by a woman, how many shelters are there for men? How many campaigns tailored to them? 1 in 100? 1 in 1000?

I'm not saying women-on-men violence should have the same attention as men-on-women violence, far from it, but now it gets approx. none of it. Which is bad.
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by litterature on Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:29 pm

I've actually seen campaigns with slogans like "man up" or "real men don't abuse women" where macho footballers and actors stare at the screen with their rapey attitude and tell us not to be rapists (btw my ex and I used to work at a major stadium and I have an unpleasant story to tell about a very famous footballer who would eventually become an anti-racist icon for about 5 minutes, although it's more of a classist story than a sexist one, but I digress) but generally all campaigns are aimed at telling women to speak up, which is fine by me. When it comes to violence against males you have to tread really really carefully because you don't want to give the wrong people a voice (I'm thinking for example of divorced men's associations, which at present are mostly seen as a bunch of wackos and criminals but which might become mainstream). So I think it's better to take a roundabout route and see what can be done to erode the ridiculously uptight, neurotic and oppressive ideal of "masculinity" as we know it, and also to see which steps can be taken towards banishing the idea that love is a State with borders, intrigues and foreign affairs to police. I'm always surprised at how lightly public institutions throw words such as "family", "household" and "your home" around, when they have such sinister undertones.

I don't know, it's as if people were scared of being labelled as man-haters, but to be quite honest a little man-hate is needed, if anything because there is much to hate about the idea of "a man". Which is different from hating on individuals, though.

edit: violence against women and the ideal of masculinity are two structural problems of our societies, whereas I'd say violence against men isn't: it's just a function of masculinity and of a toxic, cop-like conception of love. so the problem to be addressed in the case of males isn't the violence itself, which the usual police procedures can take care of just fine.


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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by JP McBride on Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:44 pm

litterature wrote:When it comes to violence against males you have to tread really really carefully because you don't want to give the wrong people a voice (I'm thinking for example of divorced men's associations, which at present are mostly seen as a bunch of wackos and criminals but which might become mainstream).

I've been in enough support groups with victimized men that I'm willing to risk it.

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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by Enail on Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:11 pm

litterature wrote:When it comes to violence against males you have to tread really really carefully because you don't want to give the wrong people a voice (I'm thinking for example of divorced men's associations, which at present are mostly seen as a bunch of wackos and criminals but which might become mainstream). So I think it's better to take a roundabout route and see what can be done to erode the ridiculously uptight, neurotic and oppressive ideal of "masculinity" as we know it, and also to see which steps can be taken towards banishing the idea that love is a State with borders, intrigues and foreign affairs to police. I'm always surprised at how lightly public institutions throw words such as "family", "household" and "your home" around, when they have such sinister undertones.

I'm not familiar with the view on divorced men's associations you mention, but I'm assuming from the way you use it that would be similar to MRAs?  I have to say I disagree with you on this - I think if legitimate organizations that are anti-misogyny and have an interest in ending all domestic violence were creating campaigns that address violence against men (perhaps men's anti-violence organizations that are partnered with women's ones, I've seen a few of those here and there), that would help combat the kinds of messages that MRA types put out that are often inaccurate and seek to erase the gendered aspect of domestic abuse, while still helping male victims.
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by eselle28 on Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:39 pm

Yeah, the MRA dudes are already here and they already speak to whoever will listen. I don't think other organizations or the government raising awareness about violence against men has to give them any more of a voice. Moreover, the fact that otherwise disagreeable and unethical people advocate for one righteous, moral cause doesn't seem like it should result in everyone else ignoring that cause. Stopped clocks can be right twice a day, and when MRAs point out things that actually are injustices, that shouldn't result in those causes being radioactive.
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by litterature on Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:49 pm

Enail wrote:
litterature wrote:When it comes to violence against males you have to tread really really carefully because you don't want to give the wrong people a voice (I'm thinking for example of divorced men's associations, which at present are mostly seen as a bunch of wackos and criminals but which might become mainstream). So I think it's better to take a roundabout route and see what can be done to erode the ridiculously uptight, neurotic and oppressive ideal of "masculinity" as we know it, and also to see which steps can be taken towards banishing the idea that love is a State with borders, intrigues and foreign affairs to police. I'm always surprised at how lightly public institutions throw words such as "family", "household" and "your home" around, when they have such sinister undertones.

I'm not familiar with the view on divorced men's associations you mention, but I'm assuming from the way you use it that would be similar to MRAs?  I have to say I disagree with you on this - I think if legitimate organizations that are anti-misogyny and have an interest in ending all domestic violence were creating campaigns that address violence against men (perhaps men's anti-violence organizations that are partnered with women's ones, I've seen a few of those here and there), that would help combat the kinds of messages that MRA types put out that are often inaccurate and seek to erase the gendered aspect of domestic abuse, while still helping male victims.

That does sound good! I'm sorry I've chosen such a poor example - around here divorced men's associations, or at least the ones you read about in the papers (all 2 or 3 of them), are more like shady types obsessed with child maintenance and there's a bit of a toxic cloud of MRA attitudes around them, but I guess there must be some good ones and I can see how it could be a good thing if they worked with women's associations. I think I've been tactless and I'm sorry - I have some reservations about DV against men being a gender issue other than having to do with the family as an institution, but I'm probably being ignorant here so for now I think it'd be better for me to sort of sit back and learn.


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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by reboot on Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:18 pm

Izmuth wrote:
reboot wrote:
The fatality data for domestic violence is as accurate as any data there is since deaths are are generally reported. There is also generally no dispute abot who the perpetrator is.

I'm not sure what you mean? I'd say it's harder underreport murder, since you have a corpse that needs to be explained, than it is to underreport violence, since victims can stay silent about it.


Which was my point. Vanishingly few men are killed by female partners in DV incidents, and underreporting is very unlikely in deaths, so at least the fatality rate is as close to the true rate as we can get.


And if you think we can ignore the fact that women and men are killed by male partners at a far greater rate than they are killed by women partners, I am going to have to dispute that.

Ah, no, that was not my intention. I tried to make the point that although it happens significantly less, it doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but people like to try to pretend there's no problem because it happens less is an easy reason not to care.

Case in point:

Even if 1 in 10 fatal victims is a man killed by a woman, how many shelters are there for men? How many campaigns tailored to them? 1 in 100? 1 in 1000?

I'm not saying women-on-men violence should have the same attention as men-on-women violence, far from it, but now it gets approx. none of it. Which is bad.[/quote]

And I agree that it is bad and needs to be addressed, likely starting with ground zero awareness campaigns like the original DV campaigns.
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by litterature on Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:25 pm

eselle28 wrote:Yeah, the MRA dudes are already here and they already speak to whoever will listen. I don't think other organizations or the government raising awareness about violence against men has to give them any more of a voice. Moreover, the fact that otherwise disagreeable and unethical people advocate for one righteous, moral cause doesn't seem like it should result in everyone else ignoring that cause. Stopped clocks can be right twice a day, and when MRAs point out things that actually are injustices, that shouldn't result in those causes being radioactive.


I don't disagree, but I'm also a bit jaded because I've seen the media machine/conservatives and wishy-washy centrists consciously use legitimate issues to discredit other legitimate issues and stall the political situation just at the right moment so that a crucial change that everyone thought was going to happen loses momentum and fizzles. I think I might have brought some unrelated issues into this and that's probably the main reason why I was unfair, alongside plain ignorance. I'm probably a bit too uncompromising/judgmental/cranky/immature as well when it comes to marriage, domestic contexts, gender roles at home, etc. - to me the endgame is having them all disappear, the sooner the better. I'm sorry, I'll try to be a bit more careful next time!


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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by readertorider on Thu Sep 03, 2015 11:08 pm

I don't know what the actual campaign looks like, but if the "Dad's have the strength to change" stuff is meant to be speaking to the abusers, I really don't think it'll be all that effective. Based on what I've read on the internet ( Wink) it seems like most abusers feel justified to some extent in their abuse and I don't know that most people care too much about how the public at large views their relationship--if their partner stays then who cares if their partner's friends/family/fellow citizens think the abuser is being abusive?

For a domestic violence poster I'd like to see something like "<terrible quote> You don't need to hear it, your kids don't need to hear it" and then just a hotline number or IM address or tumblr blog or whatever. It probably already exists, but I feel like the most effective way to combat domestic violence is to make it obvious that victims have options or to train the public at large how to help someone who is a victim.

IDK--I've used a lot of genderless language here because I don't think anyone should be alienated from seeking help and I've been in quite a few places where I was the 25% or 10% that didn't exist, but at the same time I don't feel like this is a problem that affects both (all?) genders equally and I (perhaps wrongly) feel like treating it as one (where authorities aren't educated about the 85% or 1 in 4/5 stats) will default to the situation where men appear more trustworthy to the authorities.
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by Enail on Fri Sep 04, 2015 12:03 am

I actually think (though I'm not as well informed as I should be) domestic violence is a topic where many materials should be gendered - my feeling's that people of all genders need to see materials showing perpetrators and victims of all genders, and diverse depictions of genders.

It seems like a lot of people hesitate to identify what they're experiencing as abuse because they don't see themselves or their relationship reflected in the popular image of abusers and victims, and people in a position to intervene may similarly fail to recognize it. And intimate partner violence can take different forms or disguise itself in different ways among different groups, whether that's "you're a man, you can take it," or threatening to out a closeted partner to their workplace or family, or "she's a tough and financially successful woman, she couldn't be an abuse victim" or controlling access to a trans partner's hormones.


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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by reboot on Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:23 am

Enail wrote:I actually think (though I'm not as well informed as I should be) domestic violence is a topic where many materials should be gendered - my feeling's that people of all genders need to see materials showing perpetrator and victims of all genders, and diverse depictions of genders.

It seems like a lot of people hesitate to identify what they're experiencing as abuse because they don't see themselves or their relationship reflected in the popular image of abusers and victims, and people in a position to intervene may similarly fail to recognize it. And intimate partner violence can take different forms or disguise itself in different ways among different groups, whether that's "you're a man, you can take it," or threatening to out a closeted partner to their workplace or family, or "she's tough and financially successful women, she couldn't be an abuse victim" or controlling access to a trans partner's hormones.

True that. I cannot remember where I read it (a CDC report? Journal article?) but women in relationships with women are the least likely to call abusive behaviors abusive and the least likely to report physical violence for a variety of reasons, including fear of homophobia in law enforcement and among domestic violence service providers.

Readerorrider, I like your campaign idea. It could work especially well to reach people experiencing non-physical abuse, about whom there are no statistics because emotional, financial, verbal, etc. abuse are not crimes.

Which brings up another point. These campaigns primarily target physical abuse because they are often supported with law enforcement funding or funding from some part of the criminal justice system and physical abuse is the only type of abuse that is illegal. From my experience with female bullies, they are more likely to use non-physical methods than male bullies. Do you think abuse patterns might be gendered in the same way? This would suck for any person, regardless of gender, who is abused by a woman, because there is no reporting it to law enforcement and no legal recourse.
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Re: Targeting men in DV outreach

Post by Dan_Brodribb on Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:35 pm

reboot wrote:
Enail wrote:

It seems like a lot of people hesitate to identify what they're experiencing as abuse because they don't see themselves or their relationship reflected in the popular image of abusers and victims, and people in a position to intervene may similarly fail to recognize it..

True that. I cannot remember where I read it (a CDC report? Journal article?) but women in relationships with women are the least likely to call abusive behaviors abusive and the least likely to report physical violence for a variety of reasons, including fear of homophobia in law enforcement and among domestic violence service providers.

My experience is this is as true or even more true of offenders than of survivors. I hear a lot of "I need to take a DV course to get my kids back" or "the courts have ordered us to take DV courses" but callers often don't seem to connect it to their own situation--it's something that has been imposed upon them by the Powers That Be. But they seem to see the choices that led to the situation as something someone drove them to and anyone would have done the same in their place and tend to minimize it.

I think there is a lot of shame connected to abusing and thus offenders strongly resist seeing themselves in that light. Thus any advertising directed at abusers they would tend to see as not applying to them.

reboot wrote:

Which brings up another point. These campaigns primarily target physical abuse because they are often supported with law enforcement funding or funding from some part of the criminal justice system and physical abuse is the only type of abuse that is illegal. From my experience with female bullies, they are more likely to use non-physical methods than male bullies. Do you think abuse patterns might be gendered in the same way? This would suck for any person, regardless of gender, who is abused by a woman, because there is no reporting it to law enforcement and no legal recourse.

I can't speak for gender, but we see a lot of this when we get calls about workplace bullying. A lot of the stories we hear fall into the category of 'abusive, but not illegal.' It sucks.

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