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Two thirds of male DV victims do not meet legal aid criteria

More than two thirds of male victims of domestic violence do not meet government criteria for legal aid according to new findings.

Welsh charity Families Need Fathers (FNF) polled 226 men across England and Wales who had reportedly experienced both domestic violence and difficulties seeing their children. A full 70 per cent said they had been unable to provide the evidence required by the Legal Aid Agency to access public funding.

This compares with the 37 per cent of respondents who reported the same problem in a recent similarly-sized survey by the campaign group Rights of Women. This was the latest in a number of surveys examining the problems which have faced female victims since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act in 2012. The Families Need Fathers survey is believed to be the very first to examine the experiences of fathers.

Many of the respondents complained of the disbelief, suspicion and blame they encountered from the Police, social workers and domestic violence support services when they reported the abuse they had experienced.

One respondent told the charity:

“If you mention this to anyone people will firstly laugh at you and secondly disbelieve you and thirdly blame you – you as a man must have done something wrong”.

FNF National Manager Paul Apreda said:

“We were initially delighted at the numbers of men who responded to the survey as the figures were higher than any of the comparable surveys of women. However that soon turned to shock when we read the individual testimonies of the men who told us of the institutionalised sexism they’ve faced.”

One respondent told the charity:

“As a male victim of abuse you have nowhere to turn……….. I don’t think there is any lonelier feeling!!!”

The charity plans to write to Rhian Bowen Davies, the National Advisor to the Welsh Government on Ending Violence against Women, calling on her to “stop the discrimination” inherent in screening male callers to domestic violence support services for false allegations but not female ones.

Read the report here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Roger says:

    It is indeed a shock that this report has come as a shock to many people. Because it is what I personally have long been saying — MEN are victims too!

    It is sickening to be confronted with, for instance, a female divorce lawyer (and most are female) who, you slowly start to realise, has an obvious gender bias — as SOME do. And whose behaviour eventually suggests she feels that as a man you couldn’t possibly have suffered from the behaviour of a woman (your wife), and even if you did, it seems she believes that, being man, you “probably DESERVED it”.

    As if it is ALWAYS the man who is “badly behaved” and abusing the WOMAN, and never the other way around — when clearly this is NOT the case.

    Although for instance I had ample evidence, I did not have proof that my ex-wife was having affairs and “casual sexual encounters”, while I most certainly was entirely faithful, and devoted. So there was no physical DV on either side — but what about psychological (emotional) violence? Almost daily/weekly suspicions and denials (ie. lies) not only slowly destroy the marriage, but also undermine the confidence and respect that any human being deserves — especially if HE is taking his marriage vows seriously, and doesn’t seek to bolster those feelings “outside”.

    The fact that infidelity is virtually impossible to prove (certainly very expensive) means that the husband has no way to temper HER claims for a substantial divorce settlement, however unjust it is, were the full truth known.

    But if this is only now becoming known to some NGOs and government agencies, how long will it take to penetrate the rarified atmosphere of the halls of justice?? Especially if the judge is ALSO a woman.

    And yes, I unfortunately have had both. And even if I could have changed my lawyer halfway through (extremely costly to do, with starting all over again) there was nothing I could about the lady judge, whose (probably unconscious) bias I suspected, but would be hard put to, to prove.

    One day perhaps, we’ll be more conscious of “psychological violence”. But it is doubtful it will be any easier to prove. And therein lies another difficulty for many men to obtain real justice in the divorce courts.

    We hear and read so much about women being “abused”, in these pages too — and undoubtedly there is much to it. However, in the rush towards seeking “justice” for the sometimes UNfairer sex, there is a great danger that, for an obviously growing number of MEN, justice not only simply isn’t done — as far as the justice system is concerned, it is never even REALISED that it is not being done.

    — “Roger”

  2. Bonedagger says:

    UK judges are already under bench guidelines to treat women more leniently. That ruling, which came from feminist peers Hale, Corston and Butler-Sloss, was put in place over five years ago. The Women’s Aid Federation have been pushing at all this for decades. These NGOs put around ten percent of their budget aside for private, specialist advocates for women so that they don’t need Legal Aid. The info on this is out there if you look for it. Outright lies regarding DV and sexual abuse have been the twin pillars in the church for the war on men for longer than I have been alive.

  3. Vincent McGovern. says:

    The gender discrimination is designed and starts from source at first point of entry to the system for so many. Most DV agencies work closely with local authorities on provision of service. The DV and LA double act automatically bar males which means half of all children’s parents are discriminated against due to gender. Even if a dad is a househusband he will still be refused access. I have obtained this under FOI and a very helpful MP. I presented this evidence to the European Parliament Petitions Commission on 19/3/14 and 11/11/14. The system in the UK is basically back door social engineering which subverts the wishes of parliament and the Children Act 1989 (Paramountcy of child) but is very lucrative and satisfying for myriad vested interests and especially Solicitors. Only the searchlight of external regulation (EU or Strasbourg) will have any effect on this.

  4. Dr Sue Whitcombe says:

    I work with many fathers and mothers who experience mental health issues as a result of their experience of Domestic Violence or Abuse. I would urge anyone experiencing symptoms of low mood, loss of concentration, hopelessness, anxiety, social withdrawal, self harm, suicidal thoughts or attempts, to seek support from a Medical or Mental Health (accredited counsellor or psychologist) practitioner . Where mental health issues are a result of Domestic Abuse, including where there is coercion or prevention of or interference with relationships with family, confirmation of such from a registered practtitioner can enable qualification for Legal Aid.

  5. Harry says:

    The trouble with the kind of emotional abuse described is that we may be staying mentally strong…as best we are able, but it is our physical health that is quite likely to be undermined. The results can be extremely serious, and constitute GBH.

    There can be a time delay so that it is difficult to make the connection but even where it is pretty obvious a GP has to confirm the link and the vast majority of them will refuse, I think. Mine certainly did, frightened of any possible legal consequences, it would seem.

    So female perpetrators continue on in the knowledge that there are no negative consequences but rather most likely rewards for this behaviour.

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