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Entries in male victims of domestic violence (5)


Domestic Abuse bill could help non-resident parents experiencing 'coercive control'

Families Need Fathers Scotland has submitted its observations  to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee consultation on the Scottish Government's draft Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill which aims to introduce a new domestic abuse criminal offence of 'coercive control'.

From the perspective of the individuals who ask for our help FNF Scotland gives a qualified welcome to the Bill's proposal to create "a new offence of abusive behaviour towards a person’s partner or ex-partner covering both physical violence and non-physical abuse."

We have drawn the Justice Committee's attention to examples of coercive control exerted over a non-resident parent by the parent with most care. These range from the constructed ambush at handover to the persistent and pervasive controlling of the life of the non-resident parent.  We have listed the following examples from within cases raised with us:

  • Refusing to communicate at all
  • Refusing to communicate unless through (an expensive) solicitor
  • Delaying decisions on arrangements such as holiday dates until the last minute
  • Changing contact arrangements at the last minute without reason or explanation
  • Constantly being late for agreed or court ordered contact
  • Taking children away from school on holiday without notice or agreement
  • Refusing to engage with the non-resident parent on key decisions such as school placements
  • Instructing health providers not to engage with the non-resident parent
  • Demanding “cash for contact”
  • Demanding to know every detail of what the child does when with the non-resident parent in way they would refuse to reciprocate
  • Hiding a tracking or listening device in the clothes or toys of a child when the child is having contact with the other parent
  • Criticising the other parent’s parenting skills
  • Criticising and undermining the other parent in front of their children
  • Criticising the other parent’s choices of clothes or food while the child is with them
  • Demanding the right to withhold contact from a new partner
  • Making unfounded allegations about a range of matters both trivial and potentially criminal to friends, neighbours, family members directly and on social media aimed at isolating and undermining the character of the non-resident parent
  • Making unfounded allegations about a range of matters both trivial and potentially criminal to professionals putting the non-resident parent in the position that he is under constant pressure to prove his worth as a parent.

We reluctantly accept that there is at present a role for the criminal law to help tackle the kind of abusive conduct of ex-partners as outlined above.  In these circumstances we urge that there should be flexibility of sentencing options available to the sheriff or judge to include community disposals as alternatives to imprisonment and/or fines. The aim of sentencing should reflect the seriousness with which the court sees the offence but without inflicting further damage on the victim. We already hear from sheriffs in contempt cases that they don’t want the parent offended against to get the blame in the eyes of the children for “sending the other parent to gaol.”

FNF Scotland National Manager, Ian Maxwell, says: "At present non-resident parents experiencing coercive control feel unprotected by the law. If they report it to police they are told 'There's nothing we can do. It's a civil matter'. Or if there is a court order in place the only option is the slow, unpredictable and expensive route of raising a contempt of court action.

Our preference is for a broader overhaul of family law in Scotland that will give equality of recognition in public policy to the role both parents can play in the lives of their children. Scotland needs to move on from the prevailing acceptance of the adversarial approach in which parents ‘win time’ with their children from each other.

Until then, however, we believe the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill may be of use to a substantial number of the parents who ask for our help.

For the sake of clarity, we are focussing on the issues that affect non-resident parents because that is where we have first-hand knowledge and insight. That should not be taken as indifference to others whose experience of coercive control is covered by the Bill."

As the Bill proceeds through Parliament we will report on progress.


New English domestic violence guidelines

New guidance on handling cases of domestic abuse was published by the English Crown Prosecution Service at the end of 2014, following extensive consultation.

FNF Scotland welcomes the fact that this guidance includes very specific indications that withdrawing contact with children can count as abuse, and that there is severe underreporting of domestic violence agaist men.  We will ask the Scottish Crown Office to include similar indications within their own published information.

The key parts of the new guidance are as follows:

Prosecutors should be aware that there is a significant under-reporting of domestic abuse against male victims.  Many victims will be reluctant to report offending in the fear that it may damage their reputation, or pride; others may be hesitant as they fear the consequences that may ensue in relation to their family settings.  Prosecutors will need to deal with these issues with great care, to ensure that male victims do not feel undermined, or the credibility of their allegation not believed on the basis of their gender.

Prosecutors should also note that in some cases, female perpetrated abuse against male partners is a sensitive and complex area.  Some women may use children within the relationship to manipulate a male victim, by for example threatening to take away contact rights.  It is therefore essential that where such instances arise, prosecutors work very closely with the police to investigate and consider the whole picture, before any charging decision is made.


Study suggest women more likely to be aggressive to partners

Women may be more likely to be aggressive to their partners than men, according to a study presented this week as part of a symposium on intimate partner violence (IPV) at the British Psychological Society's Division of Forensic Psychology annual conference in Glasgow.
Dr Elizabeth Bates from the University of Cumbria and colleagues from the University of Central Lancashire gave a total of 1104 students (706 women and 398 men; aged between 18 to 71 with an average age of 24) questionnaires about their physical aggression and controlling behaviour, to partners and to same-sex others (including friends).
The fundings showed that women were more likely to be physically aggressive to their partners than men and that men were more likely to be physically aggressive to their same-sex others.
Furthermore, women engaged in significantly higher levels of controlling behaviour than men, which significantly predicted physical aggression in both sexes. 
Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Bates said: "Previous studies have sought to explain male violence towards women as rising from patriarchal values, which motivate men to seek to control women’s behaviour, using violence if necessary.   This study found that women demonstrated a desire to control their partners and were more likely to use physical aggression than men. ”
Although this study is limited in scope and looked only at students, it does challenge the simplistic analysis of domestic violence and the focus of interventions.



Evidence on men's experience of domestic abuse in Scotland

‘Men’s experience of Domestic Abuse in Scotland: What we know and how we can know more’ examines available evidence about domestic abuse experienced by men in Scotland.

This extensive report by Brian Dempsey of University of Dundee School of Law contains important findings about men’s experience of domestic abuse. 

It highlights the urgent need for more recognition and support in Scotland for men (and any children affected) as well as calling for further research into Scottish men’s experience of domestic abuse.

The most recent Scottish Government figures  show that in 2011/12 there were 9,569 reports to the police of a domestic abuse incident where the ‘victim’ was male and the perpetrator female and 659 reports where there was a male ‘victim’ of a male perpetrator (where the sex of the parties were recorded). The proportion of reports relating to male ‘victims’ to total ‘victims’ in particular police force areas was generally around 15% but ranged from 9% in Dumfries and Galloway to 21% in Strathclyde.

The Review was commissioned by Abused Men in Scotland (AMIS) from Dundee University, with Scottish Government funding.


Shrew play highlights male victims of domestic abuse

 Our society has seen a dramatic shift in gender roles, but has it gone too far?

Cygnet Theatre's production of The Taming of the Shrew at this year's Edinburgh Fringe gives Shakespeare’s ruthless battle of the sexes a unique twist: the characters’ genders are reversed.

This production looks at the often overlooked world of domestic abuse directed towards men, which has sparked an association with Mankind Initiative, a national charity that provides help and support for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence.

Petruchio is a beautiful young entrepreneur seeking a rich husband, and she will use any means to get one. Katherine is a stubborn young man who will not be
oppressed... but will Petruchio tame the shrew?  On show from 13-24 August at Sweet Grassmarket.