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Mythology is killing the solutions to domestic violence

By Jasmin Newman - posted Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Ignoring abuse and violence suffered by men is only compounding the family violence issue.

Domestic violence is at the forefront of media reporting in Australia and it is something that those of us in the front line have a firm grasp on. As a coach who supports male victims, I see a lot of myths perpetuated that are ruining vital conversations and stonewalling many efforts to actually stem the problem.

Myth: Domestic violence is about men's anger


There are recognizable behaviours in most people who have been victims of childhood abuse. They are often defensive, aggressive and will project their hurt and pain onto others - be that physical, emotional or mental.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission of Queensland released the Child physical abuse and adult offending, 2007 report about childhood victims of domestic violence and abuse and their propensity to criminally offend with violence as adolescents and adults.

The report opens with a description of evidence that abused children are more aggressive, have increased risk of mental health problems and cites extensive research demonstrating higher rates of becoming offenders later in life.

The survey was comprised of 60% male respondents and 40% female, all of whom had become offenders.

Further evidence of this is reported in Psycho Social factors of family, domestic and sexual violence Australian Bureau of Statistics, which state that:

Childhood exposure:
Experience of sexual abuse as a child can affect later adult offending or victimisation. For example, a study that examined the relationship between child sexual abuse and subsequent criminal offending and victimisation found that both male and female child sexual abuse victims were significantly more likely than non-abused people to be charged for all types of offences, in particular violence and sexual offences. It also found that experiencing sexual abuse as a child impacts negatively on mental health outcomes, increases the risk of suicide and increases rates of re-victimisation (Ogloff, Cutajar, Mann & Mullen 2012).


In 2015 we are more aware of caring for children who have experienced family violence or sexual abuse, however we are missing a very large and integral part of the current problem Australia faces, which is caring for adult men and women who experienced family and sexual violence in their childhood.

Australia's only current response to stemming domestic violence is to give men "anger management" courses, or for more serious crimes, jail time. Giving a man whose trauma has not been treated "anger management" is like putting a band-aid on a septic wound and saying "all better!" What they need is services which support men of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicity who have been victims of violence, abuse and neglect.

It is also not enough to wait for perpetrators to offend before they get help. Instead of dismissing men who have been harmed and hurt with some mythological ideation that they are strong enough to cope, we need to adopt a proactive approach to men's emotional and mental wellbeing.

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This article was first published on Relating To Men.

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About the Author

Jasmin Newman is a specialist men’s coach, speaker and author who supports men in all aspects of relationships, including those going through high conflict separation and divorce. She is also an advocate for services for men and their children who have been victims of domestic violence and abuse.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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