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Domestic abuse, disability and a great man’s courage

Back in the late seventies, to my prepubescent eyes, Eddie Kidd was quite simply the coolest guy on the planet. The motorcycle stuntman seemed to be a perennial presence on John Craven’s Newsround and Blue Peter, highlighting his latest daredevil leaps over gullies, gorges or strings of double decker buses. While the USA had Evel Knieval, all jumpsuits, rhinestones and Confederate flags, we had Eddie Kidd, a sneering, punky, denim and leather-clad teenager. No contest.

The courage and determination which took Eddie Kidd to stardom stayed with him, even after a horrific accident in 1996 left him with severe physical disabilities and brain damage. Doctors declared that he would never walk again, but five years later he completed the London Marathon. It took him 43 days but he finished it.

It must have taken a similar kind of courage for Kidd to open himself up on his experience as a victim of domestic abuse. In August, his ex-wife was imprisoned for five months for a series of assaults that included kicking, punching and throttling him, accompanied by foul verbal attacks, sometimes in full view of witnesses. Last week Kidd told the Sun on Sunday:

“As a man, any man, to be beaten by your wife is desperately humiliating and, in a way, shameful.  I ended up blaming myself – thinking she had taken too much – or, that it was my fault. I took on so much when I was riding. Then after all the stunts, all the fanfare, I am sat in a chair being beaten by my wife and there is nothing I can do.”

This desperately sad story brings into sharp focus one of the most neglected aspects to domestic violence policy: disability, and especially its interaction with masculinity. Home Office research has found that both men and women with disabilities are around twice as likely to become victims of abuse as their non-disabled equivalents and while disabled women are at greatest risk of all, disabled men are at significantly greater risk than non-disabled women. An analysis of users of a male victims’ helpline in the US revealed that 17.9% of callers were disabled. Other research has found that disabled people are likely to suffer greater trauma and mental ill health as a consequence than other victims of abuse.

To its credit, the domestic violence sector has at least begun to address the very real needs of disabled women, in terms of identifying abuse and providing appropriate interventions. Academic searches bring up swathes of papers, books and chapters on the needs of disabled women at risk. In contrast, when the charity Abused Men in Scotland published a recent systematic review of evidence on male victims’ needs, they were forced to admit: “An extensive search produced no specific literature on disabled men and domestic abuse.”

Numerous studies have suggested that disabled people are less likely to report abuse than others, and that men are less likely to do so than women. It is reasonable to presume that disabled men are uniquely isolated from support. We might hope that health and social care professionals would be attuned to these risks, and yet if one looks at the stated positions of their relevant national bodies, there is cause for concern.

The Royal College of Nurses provides a resource sheet on domestic violence which begins with the words “Increasingly, nurses working in all specialities are expected to respond to women who are experiencing domestic violence.” It continues in that vein for ten pages, mentioning male victims only once, to dismiss their significance. The British Association of Social Work resource section has 28 documents on domestic violence and not one of them addresses the needs of male victims. When the Royal College of General Practitioners launched a new training package on domestic violence, their chair was quoted as saying “this vital work [will] develop the skills and confidence of GPs and transform the lives of many women and children.” NHS London provides an extensive resource site for health professionals on domestic violence which presumes male perpetrators and female victims throughout.

In practice, many individual doctors, nurses, social workers and other frontline care professionals are sensitive and aware of male victims, especially those with disabilities. Victims and their advocates report that sadly, many are not and one might ask for how long their national organisations are going to legitimise that failing. This week NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence closes a major consultation on domestic violence policies across our health services. Let us hope it provides a platform for change to systems and attitudes which currently leave many of the most vulnerable victims neglected, forgotten and at risk.

 

Comments

  1. karmakin says

    Some thoughts from reading that resource sheet:

    First of all, the 97% statistic for men vs. women being abusers is about as close to as a pure gender essentialist view as you can get, statistically speaking. They’re talking about from police reports, to be sure, but still. That should set off some serious red flags in all but the most sexist among us.

    However it gets even worse. The crux of the entire thing is how to observe for potential signs of domestic abuse, as there’s a list of reasons why victims may not want to report it, or may want to hide it. While this is definitely true, obviously with that 97% above, there’s a very good reason to believe that it’s actually just as important if not more so to use these observation techniques on men as well. Note that I’m NOT saying that it’s not important to observe women for signs of abuse.

    At the end of the day, however I do think the major block to doing something about this is the problem of mutual abuse. To do anything about it looks and feels a lot like victim blaming.

  2. says

    What about the humanz indeed.

    The last UK government was particularly purblind in this area. They put out a 77-page document on domestic violence which featured just one instance of the word “men” :

    Respect has also established a helpline for men..

    That seemed OK – it had been covered. Except the full sentence was

    Respect has also established a helpline for men worried about their violent behaviour and wanting help.

  3. Ginkgo says

    “a series of assaults that included kicking, punching and throttling him, accompanied by foul verbal attacks, sometimes in full view of witnesses. ”

    This is the widespread cultural license granted women to abuse men that some insist doens’t exist. Witnesses stood by and watched. There are vidoes of this kind of thing – a woman abusing a man in a park, a man abusing a woman in a park, see who intervenes and in which episode – there are studies on this, but people are deeply invested in denial. They want to maintian thier cultural assumptions at all costs.

    There was a case in California where a man confined to a wheelchair, David Woods, was abused by his wife to the point of hospitalization one time and then another time, finally when he was afraid for his life, he called the police. The police came and arrested him. He had tried to egt to DV shelters but was turned away because he was a man. His lawyer, Marc Angelucci, took the case to the California Supreme Court and got the gender-biased law on funding for DV shelters thrown out. He then mounted a campaign in the Assembly to get equal funding for men’s shelters, over the stiff opposition of women’s advocates. IIRC NOW led that opposition. He won eventually.

    I won’t clog this up with links; it’s easy to google.

  4. CerberusCheerleader says

    @Ginko

    This is the widespread cultural license granted women to abuse men that some insist doens’t exist. Witnesses stood by and watched. There are vidoes of this kind of thing – a woman abusing a man in a park, a man abusing a woman in a park, see who intervenes and in which episode – there are studies on this, but people are deeply invested in denial.

    Can you cite some of these studies?

  5. Ginkgo says

    Cereberus – I don’t know why I said studies – i misspoke – I meant videos. Here’s one, I think (I can’t look at youtube here)

  6. Ally Fogg says

    Gingko – I’m not sure how that shows that women assaulting men with impunity is “a cultural norm”

    That story’s hidden behind a paywall, but it is covered by a local paper here

    “Now the stepdad of the girl said they have been forced to go into hiding because of threats by online viewers of the footage.

    He told the Scottish Sun: “There are a lot of threats because it went viral. It’s not spilled into violence yet. But it’s not safe with what’s gone on.

    “She knows she’s done wrong. She can’t defend it.

    “She’s been told to stay away from school today but she won’t be going back.”

    Within hours of the film going on YouTube it caused a storm of protest. It was later removed, but not before several hate sites were set up. But relatives of the boy were more reasonable.”

    What that tells me is that our culture still finds her behaviour abhorrent, and freakishly unusual. If anything I’d suggest that society should perhaps wake up to the fact that behaviour like that is rather more common than usually supposed.

    On the other hand, I do think that ABC clip is quite compelling though.

  7. carnation says

    @ Gingko

    I think you are conflating two things, the public and private. DV is almost entirely in the private sphere. It is simply wrong to state than women have a “license” to assault or abuse men, in public or private. In public, yes, female on male assault isn’t likely to result in intervention by sre Joe or Joanne public, but please, shocking as thosr videos are, men are (considerably) more at risk from attack by other men. And it is a mistake to state the social unacceptability of men hitting women. It still happens far too often, doesn’t it?

    A holistic approach is needed, not tabloidy videos and indignant outrage. Violence is wrong, abusive behavioue is wrong. Males can be victims of female abuse, of course, in the private sphere (domestic) education about coervion; control and abusive behaviour should be discussed and taught at school.

    I posit that such an educational programme would be met with fierce online resistance from radfems and most of the MRM. Re first directive, this is an opinion based on analysis of digma and praxis of said groups. Hopibg it isn’t too broad a stroke.

  8. Copyleft says

    That proposal sounds good to me; all people need to be taught that violence is unacceptable. And all people need to know that there are no clear-cut gender-based categories of “attackers” and “victims” too.

  9. Ginkgo says

    carnation @ 11 -” think you are conflating two things, the public and private. DV…”

    Well there’s a confaltion right there. There is a clear difference bewtween DV and that girls’ assault. I take your point. But that’s not the poiont I was making. I was talking about the cultural acceptability of F>M physical violence and the very strong cultural nomrs against M>F violence

    ” more at risk from attack by other men. ”

    The difference is in the police raction between the two forms of violence.

    And it is a mistake to state the social unacceptability of men hitting women. It still happens far too often, doesn’t it?”

    This is a fair but uninformed take on this. You as a woman see the violence men commit towards women. What you don’t see is the way that M>F violence is policed among men, because, well, it’s among men.

    One big reason M>F violeence is so hard to deale with is that it’s often nit just private but secret. It’s secret for a reason. That’s all I am saying.

    Ally @ 10 – “What that tells me is that our culture still finds her behaviour abhorrent, and freakishly unusual. ”

    And that culture threatens her *step father, a man*, rather than her. Thank you for making my point. As for punishing her, rewarding her with time off from school is a pretty mild punishment.

    In fact you yourself have argued for this double standard.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/08/14/the-equal-treatment-fallacy/

    What you say there excuses the same double stabndard i am saying exists when it comes to physical violence. And it plays out in F>M domestic violence.

    And lest there be any doubt about the reality of this double standard, when it comes to DV, it’s coded into law in more than a few states in the US, eg. the infamous “primary aggressor” laws.

  10. mildlymagnificent says

    I think that we’d all get a lot further by putting the soft pedal on male or female victims or perpetrators and blow some very loud trumpets on bully against vulnerable regardless of gender.

    For one thing, my view is that the thing many people who emphasise men’s violence against women and then get bogged down in arguments about how much/ what kind/ what circumstances women are violent towards men miss the point about the violence in the first place. It’s about bullying. I know we generally talk about it as control or aggression or whatever, but bullying is what it is regardless of its purpose or function in a given relationship.

    Who’s most likely to be bullied? Someone who’s vulnerable. Once you use that framing it’s a lot easier to see, and to work out what’s going on in a particular instance. It also makes it clearer what the issues are when someone is disabled or elderly or pregnant. They’re automatically more vulnerable to bullying, by violence as well as by other means. It would certainly make it easier for medical staff to see through the mists of their male / female goggles.

  11. Jacob Schmidt says

    And that culture threatens her *step father, a man*, rather than her.

    Where does it say the stepfather was threatened? They all went into hiding; who specifically was threatened is not mentioned.

    As for punishing her, rewarding her with time off from school is a pretty mild punishment.

    I don’t see it as a reward when someone (or their family) receives so many threats that they don’t feel safe going to school. Indeed, in most other contexts that’s called bullying.

    I’ve never seen anyone say that women hitting men is acceptable. From what I can tell, most don’t find it acceptable (I know there are videos showing this happening, and I’m not contradicting them; I’m only speaking about what I see in my day to day life). The problem I see is that people put it on par with her being especially rude or nasty to him. People act like hitting him is just as bad as yelling at him. They don’t view it as acceptable, they just don’t feel it’s a problem worth addressing.

    (Of course, yelling at him isn’t necessarily acceptable either; there’s a whole other bag of cats with that one.)

  12. summerblues says

    Re: video linked by Ginko @#7

    I’m guessing that the men who interfered with the “man abusing the woman” ended up on the cutting room floor here. While I think the video is very thought-provoking, I noticed that only women stepped in. Both times.

  13. Ginkgo says

    Summerblues @ 17 ” I noticed that only women stepped in. Both times”

    That’s an importnat observation.

    I think women regulate on women and men on men, in the main. I think that’s part of the gender system. That is certianly the pattern in gender policing, wiht the opposite gender only making opportunistic use of that when convenient.

    JS @ 16 – “Where does it say the stepfather was threatened? They all went into hiding; who specifically was threatened is not mentioned. ”

    That’s right. Thanks.

    OTOH: “I’ve never seen anyone say that women hitting men is acceptable.”

    The writers of “Everyone Loves Raymond” – big prpime time mainstream network sitcom for those who have better things to do with their time and are unfamiliar with it – said it all the time. his wife berates, punches and slaps him all the time, and it’s just a part of normal life, apparently.

    And here’s an example of a subset – permission for a owman to inflict disporportionate violemnce. This is a form of hypoagency:
    http://i.imgur.com/aHIumk2.jpg

    Just to make this very clear – this is about the man supposedly cheating and the woman hitting him in the crotch – physical assault is depicted as proportionate to her hurt feelings – and presented on a billboard by the highway. That’s as normalized as it gets.

    Just start looking for examples of tis in daily life. Once you start looking, they leap out at you. Unsurprisingly it’s women who tend to notice this most and to disapprove most. Putting up with this shit is part of toxic masculinity, and most women aren’t socialized into that.

    It’s probably a subset of the generally greater permission women have to lay hands on men:
    http://watch.accesshollywood.com/video/joel-mchales-shirt-ripped-open:-howd-he-react/2681859081001?utm_source=watch.accesshollywood.com&utm_medium=share-link

  14. Ginkgo says

    mm@ 15 – ” It’s about bullying. I know we generally talk about it as control or aggression or whatever, but bullying is what it is regardless of its purpose or function in a given relationship. ”

    This is excellent. this distills it right down.

    Someone said recently, and I wish i could remember where, that the key person in a bullying situation is neither the bully nor the victyim, and it isn’t their behavior that is the key, but the bystnader. They bully plays to and feeds off the bystander, the real source of tir power. ne the bystander stops complying, the situation collapses and resolves.

    In DV the bystander is society in general by specifically the legal system. The big issue with M>F was (it no longer is) the slient approval of society – “It’s a family matter; let it stay behind the walls of the family.” With F>M the problems is enabling cultural norms. They take the form mostly of excuse-making and extenuating BS, such as these :

    - He provoked her (“What did her do to her first?”)
    - He failed to keep her in check (The Skimmington Ride scneario)
    - It doesn’t matter anyway; she’s small and can’t really hurt him; what kind of man is he if a woman can hurt him? (The agrument from hypoagency)

    That’s not a problem with the woman, really. There will always be men and women who assault their partners or try subtler means of control and degradation. The problem here is the gendered and disparate way society processes the situation and responds to it.

    And this can change. There are still subcultures where abused women are told to woman up and keep the family together (this is one major reason men say they don’t leave BTW, because they know what kind of chance they have of ever parenting their kids if they leave) or there is a sick kind of martyrdom fetishization of battered women, or women are taught to value abusive men because they need someone violent to protect the family. But we don’t see that so much any more, and I have watched that change happen.

  15. Lucy says

    Re. Videos posted above and supposed cultural license for women. How on earth do contrived (scripted, acted) scenes of female violence tell us anything about real female violence or culture? The fact that I’ve managed to live a number of decades without ever once seeing a woman physically abuse a man in the park tells me far more about society’s attitudes to it.

    I have incidentally seen a number of public examples of male violence against women in that time, with varying, weak reactions from the public. And I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard girls screaming for god knows what reason, and I like everyone else usually completely ignore it. And there is a very popular genre on YouTube of men slapping and kicking women around the world.

  16. Lucy says

    I sat on a crowded train carriage at about 5pm a few months ago listening to a drunk Indian man abuse his “slag” of a woman friend (who was incidentally in a wheelchair), before breaking into a version of the Twelve Days of Christmas which included verses on sticking a partridge up her c*** and slitting her throat, She laughing along when not asking him to please be quiet. Not one person in the carriage said a thing. He decided to make friends with the girl sitting in front of him and share his drink, and she sweetly complied. I sat there weighing up my chances of being able to punch him hard enough to get off the carriage safely, but like everyone else stayed quiet. That’s what I call cultural license.

  17. Lucy says

    “Here’s another that shows how much this license for women to assault men with impunity is a cultuarl norm. Here’s a Scottish girl hitting a boy and then taunting him for not hitting back, knowing full well he dare not.”

    You cannot divorce incidents like this and the reactions of the women in the American video from the reality (not the acted, contrived reality) but the actual reality of women experiencing male violence to the extent that it impinges on every single decision they make day to day. A million times a day, a woman has to assess risk of male violence and make minor or major adjustments to her activities, personality and ambitions. Of course they’re in a revenge mindset.

    It’s not good for the future of humanity, and I’m not defending either it or female violence, but let’s not mischaracterise this as the result of a cultural environment that gives license to female violence and not to male violence. On the contrary, it is primarily the result of the widespread cultural license for male violence. Male violence that sees us with 50% of the population afraid to go out at night, which has us with entertainment genres that glory in it, a multibillion pound defence budget, millions killed each year, that’s the environment we’re operating within and in which one woman did a little victory dance over an actress kicking her strapping fake boyfriend in the testicles.

    It’s obviously horrible, immoral and illegal to abuse your wheelchair-bound husband; even if he did ignore you all the times you and his mother asked him not to take such stupid risks for vainglory, at the behest of fanboys who hero-worshipped him and his brand of masculine risk-taking who are now nowhere to be seen, and even if it does mean he’s ruined your hopes and dreams and upset the rest of the family like you told him he would hundreds of times. Nobody thinks that’s acceptable.

  18. Ginkgo says

    Lucy @ – “How on earth do contrived (scripted, acted) scenes of female violence tell us anything about real female violence or culture?”

    In a market system the wares on offer reflect the demand of the customer base, whether those wares are contrived or not. Those billboards reflect public norms.

    “but the actual reality of women experiencing male violence to the extent that it impinges on every single decision they make day to day. A million times a day, a woman has to assess risk of male violence and make minor or major adjustments to her activities, personality and ambitions. ”

    How is this any different from what men experience? Don’t answer – I know you know nothing of what men expereince. But I’ll tell you one difference – men start experiencing this form early boyhood on. And the statistics are very clear. men expericne several times the amopunt of physical violence that women do.e don’t trry to lie about that. and quite a lot of it is instigated by women and girls.

    “Of course they’re in a revenge mindset”

    Yet you wonder where misogyny comes from.

    “but let’s not mischaracterise this as the result of a cultural environment that gives license to female violence and not to male violence. On the contrary, it is primarily the result of the widespread cultural license for male violence.”

    This is utter bullshit, and it’s reaching the point of disprespect. There is absolutely no question that men’s violence is punished far more severly than women’s violence, that men’s violence is culturally sanctiopned much more severely women’s violence, even when that violence is directed at defenseless children – eg, that walking abomination Andrea Yates, so don’t even try with that lie.

    This is starting very much to look like White Lady Tears. Someone calls women on something, or in this not even that; someone calls society on the pass it gives women, and a woman gets all sobby-faced because that might mean she’s a bad person. It’s the exact same thing when white feminists do when WOCs call them on their racism – they turn on the wtaer works because it afronts them so badly that they may not be the innocent litle angels their toxic gender role says they are.

    I have nothing but contempt for your self-serving, mainipulative, lying White Lady Tears. You have reached the point of being insulting with your lies and distortions and erasures. It’s profoundly disrespectful. Knock it off.

  19. Schala says

    How on earth do contrived (scripted, acted) scenes of female violence tell us anything about real female violence or culture?

    See how the passerbys react, this is what the video was about anyways.

    No one tries to stop her, no one sides with him, and even an off-duty cop thinks he probably did something to deserve it. People side with her with “you go girl” mock-fight airmoves.

  20. carnation says

    @ Gingko

    You are past delusional. Men ARE overwhelmingly more likely to be victims of violence. The assailants are overwhelmingly likely to be other men. Overwhelmingly of a similar social class and race.

    The vast majority of violence directed towards women is committed by men.

    Cliches abound such as “real men don’t hit women”, and of course it’s not socially acceptable for men to hit women, generally, but it still happens, often.

    Now, why is it so socially acceptable for men and boys to hurt other men and boys? I would argue that it, generally, is still transgressive behaviour. A lot of violence is multiple men on one victim. Or an armed assailant. The cliche of a “fair fight” of course happens, but so does ritualistic, often alcohol fuelled thuggery.

    With the stern rebuke for breaching the first directive in my ears, I will conclude by saying that it’s a damn shame that the only advocates for tackling the root causes of historic and systemic male on male violence seems to be that bunch of chronic manginas, the police.

    Where are the men’s advocates?

  21. Jacob Schmidt says

    Just start looking for examples of tis in daily life. Once you start looking, they leap out at you. Unsurprisingly it’s women who tend to notice this most and to disapprove most. Putting up with this shit is part of toxic masculinity, and most women aren’t socialized into that.

    I do. I haven’t seen it.

    I don’t mean to say that it doesn’t happen. My experience is only mine. I was just writing about what I see as the larger problem.

    How on earth do contrived (scripted, acted) scenes of female violence tell us anything about real female violence or culture?

    The scene itself doesn’t; the reactions of those watching (who aren’t in on the act) are the issue.

  22. summerblues says

    Schala, a woman did step in when the man was a victim. Did you see at the end there how many folks, mostly women if I remember correctly, were hanging around a nearby bench…watching, waiting? I believe it was even a woman who finally called the police.

    The more telling part: where were the men? Even the offduty police officer said it looked like a tiff to him. In the discussion afterward even the men laughed along with the women when it was said he (the victim) probably did something to deserve it. Did he cheat? Lie? Is he not listening? Did you personally relate (not the violence itself) to enduring a partner’s wrath for something you did that you know wasn’t right? Defensive posture, gritted teeth, not going to talk at all…and you know damn well that you did something to bring this anger on? Be honest. Lousy communication, passive-aggressive behavior, too much on the defensive to hear what your partner is saying, too busy in your own mind trying to come up with excuses or just thinking “what a bitch/bastard”.

    We’re looking for visual clues I found myself wondering what would have happened had all three of those women approached the couple instead of just one. I felt that the one woman who did left too early (I believe she did as well, I don’t think the group walked away). After the woman walked away, what do you supposed the hitter was saying to her victim..low enough that only he could hear? Would the outsider intervention only had made things worse for the victim when they got home? Someone else here reminded us that most of this takes place at home, not public. The wounds are hidden behind clothing. Should we, the public, intervene and if we do will we be reading a while later about his body being found in a dumpster?

  23. Schala says

    Would the outsider intervention only had made things worse for the victim when they got home? Someone else here reminded us that most of this takes place at home, not public. The wounds are hidden behind clothing. Should we, the public, intervene and if we do will we be reading a while later about his body being found in a dumpster?

    Male on female violence takes place mostly at home, because it’s likely to cause people to intervene and take her defense if done in public. Much much more likely than if he is the victimized party.

    The incentive for the male abuser to keep him at home is that

    1) It could backfire (he gets cornered by multiple people)
    2) People do care generally

    The lack of incentive for the female abuser to do the same is that:

    1) Culture says he deserves it / did something to earn it
    2) No one will intervene generally, not strangers and not officials, unless it becomes seriously dangerous (ie weapons). Bouncers won’t rush to his aid. And mall security won’t either. Police is likely not to take the event seriously, even if they witness it all. He’ll be told “she needs mental help” at the very best, with no one to help him.

  24. carnation says

    ” Male on female violence takes place mostly at home, because it’s likely to cause people to intervene and take her defense if done in public. Much much more likely than if he is the victimized party.”

    This is the most delusional and misinformed nonsense I have read on a HetPat comment. That includes Sid’s semi literate gibberish.

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