Talking about Domestic Violence at Uni yesterday, I was the only man in the class and found myself having to voice the fact that 40% of domestic violence has a male victim and trying to get the conversation away from a perception that only woman are victims and all men are perpetrators. The other students found this funny and one even said that “the men probably deserved it” another said that “it’s not the same, they are men and can defend themselves”. I was shocked and tried to explain that male victims can’t defend themselves otherwise they would be the ones arrested for domestic violence. I was shouted down, then when the tutor intervened instead of defending what I was saying she moved the conversation back to a gender biased approach where only woman are victims. I was disgusted, along with writing this on here I am also writing a letter to the Dean – a letter which I know will probably just be ignored. When 1 in 4 men suffer domestic violence and 1 in 3 woman – why do people only care about the woman?
I am still grappling with the abuse that my parents gave me (both of them), which is inherently sexist — they had fixed ideas of what girls could and couldn’t do, and what boys could and couldn’t do. But they seemed to be a bit more open for boys. My male cousin hated football and loved caring for animals, and he came under fire by his parents for it, but my parents were like, ‘cut him some slack, dude, he loves animals for fucks sake’. But in my case? “Oh, girls can’t play drums.” “Girls can’t ride bikes.” “Girls can’t get into the music industry without being made to sleep with someone.” Girls can’t this. Girls can’t that. Everytime I wanted to tell them I could, or even prove to them I could, I would be beaten up very badly. (This is just the tip of the iceberg, because the abuse runs far deeper than that, but I thought of sharing the sexist element here.)
After two years living with a violent abusive housemate I decided to voice my concerns to the landlord. His response? “If the atmosphere is so threatening, why haven’t you just moved out?” I just sat in my bedroom and cried. Basically either calling me a hysterical woman, or a liar or both. It just mirrors the situation of domestic violence victims where people ask “why didn’t she just leave?” instead of condemning the abuser. More to the point I shouldn’t have to leave my home because a man is threatening and intimidating me, it’s my home too. Anyway, fast forward six months to an incident after being woken up again at 4am by our housemate and two male strangers returning home drunk to our house, my female housemate gets up to find vomit all over her towels. She’s understandably angry and confronts him over this. She’s angry with him but not threatening. He leaves and doesn’t return for two days (on a day which he knows I always stay over at my partner’s so the house will be empty apart from him and my female housemate) and he runs into the kitchen launching a sustained verbal and very nearly physical attack on her. She repeatedly tries to speak to him in a logical reasoned manner but he simply screams at her “I do not want to listen to you, I just want to yell at you”. It was so bad that she handed in her notice to the landlord the next day and reported him to the police. The landlords response? “Well there are no witnesses, the police can’t prove anything and you are moving out anyway”. Now I work in criminal prosecution and I know that there was more than enough evidence for her to press charges if she had wanted to, however she was too frightened of repercussions to do so. Both the landlord and my housemate clearly have problems with women. They treat us like liars or hysterical fantasists when all we were was scared of being in the house with somebody who was clearly violent and clearly had a problem with women. He had a problem with me because we worked in the sector however I was more qualified than him (I’m a trainee Solicitor, he is a paralegal but tells everybody he’s a lawyer). The saddest thing about this is that we informed the landlord of our concerns six months previously and he did nothing. I have saved all of this correspondence to show the police should I ever need to. This man is dangerous and I have no doubt in my mind he is a future domestic violence perpetrator but nobody will listen to us.
My friend was raped at university very, very recently. The uni have been supportive but the man is by all means getting away with it. I am more than furious as I am sure most of you will understand. He is about to graduate as a lawyer and make a successful career for himself, yet he is not being held accountable for his actions. Why?
I’m one of seven kids in ireland. 5 girls and 2 boys. My father and mother told us that the boys would be sent to university and the girls to secretarial school if anything. If we didn’t want that, we got nothing. Because we were in waiting to get married and not work again. We were to marry well. That was our career. My brothers got a free flat owned by dad until they could afford to buy their own. The girls got nothing. The boys have managed my parents’ money since their late 20’s and the girls are not allowed to know about finances. My brothers are totally on board with that. And are both married to very successful women who make as much money or more than them. But when it comes to their sisters we are patronised, lied to and excluded – with their pleasure. My dad was violent. Now my eldest brother abuses his wife and 2 daughters. He speaks to them in a horrible demeaning way and uses his belt on his least favourite girl. No one will stand up to him. I’m not allowed to see his girls any more. He avoids me as much as possible because I call him on his behaviour. But I get no support from my sisters or family as this level of misogyny is so ingrained in our family that I’m the trouble maker for speaking out. I’m in my 40’s. And so the abuse has been passed to the next generation and we as a family have done nothing meaningful to stop it. I feel ashamed and so sad and angry