After I published my blog post last week, several friends and colleagues from organisations involved in men’s health and recovery got in touch to share their astonishment and anger at what I had revealed. The brazen falsehood in the presentation of the ‘Violence against Women and Girls’ data was shocking enough, but possibly worse was the failure of any mainstream media or journalists to pick up on what had happened and challenge the CPS over their work.
We decided to take matters into our own hands. By Monday we had got together a draft letter, nominally to the Guardian’s letters page but really to Alison Saunders and the CPS, The response was phenomenal. We ended up with around 30 of Britain’s leading experts in the fields agreeing to put their names to the letter and this morning, I am very proud to say, the letter appears in the Guardian . We have also sent a press release to all national news desks, so hopefully further media will follow.
In the comments beneath the previous blog, several of you were debating why the CPS would have done such a thing. My hunch, for what it is worth, is that there is a little bit of many factors at play, but a key one is a prevailing sense that male victims of intimate violence and abuse seem to muddy the narrative, so it is easier to just ignore them. Since there has rarely been any kind of effective organised lobby on behalf of vulnerable men and boys, organisations like the CPS think they can get away with this kind of things because hey, it’s just men and boys so who is going to care? I sincerely hope that this letter will be one tiny step towards changing that, and that the likes of the Crown Prosecution Service and all other public bodies realise that they cannot always just throw men and boys to the wolves and no one will care.
Anyway, the original, unedited letter and the full list of signatories is below and I’ve added Belinda Brown of UCL who asked to be on the list but got missed for no other reason than my administrative incompetence.
Your article (More people than ever being convicted of violence against women, figures` show, The Guardian, 25 June) was inaccurate and damaging. It is simply untrue to say, “about 107,100 cases concerning violence against women and girls were prosecuted over the [past] 12 months.”
Responsibility for this error, however, lies not with your staff but with the Crown Prosecution Service and their report, misleadingly entitled ‘Violence Against Women And Girls, Crime Report 2014-15.’
Despite the title, this analysis included more than 13,000 male victims of crimes including rape, sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence. Many will have been gay or transgender, many will have had their children or dependents affected. Designating these men and boys as victims of crimes “against women and girls” not only misleads the public about the complex and diverse dynamics of abuse, but also serves to conceal and marginalise the experiences of all male survivors of intimate and sexual crimes while perpetuating the myth that “real men” don’t get raped, abused or become victims of domestic violence.
Victims of intimate violence face significant psychological barriers to reporting these events. Some fear they will not be believed, or even cast as the perpetrator. Those who find the courage to report their abuse to the authorities often say they are motivated less by the need for justice or revenge but for validation that what happened to them was real and was wrong. Many men tell us that the experience of intimate violation has left them feeling like ‘less than a man’ making interaction with authorities even more complex and challenging. For those same authorities to publicly disregard this and erase the experiences of around one in six of all victims is unjust and a cruel betrayal of their bravery.
We fully support drives to eliminate intimate and sexual violence and understand that focussing on female victims is central to this. It is also essential that we retain due consideration for male victims of these crimes. We call on the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders and all public bodies to affirm their commitment to addressing and eliminating intimate violence against human beings of any gender and to take care in future not to compromise the dignity and public understanding of any survivors.
Ally Fogg, Writer and journalist
Michael May, Director, Survivors UK
Duncan Craig, CEO, Survivors Manchester
Jane Powell, CEO, CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably
Mark Brooks, Chair, The Mankind Initiative
Nick Smithers, National Development Officer, Abused Men in Scotland
Bob Balfour, Founder, Survivors West Yorkshire
Prof. Damien Ridge, Professor of Health Studies, University of Westminster
Dr John Barry, UCL Medical School
Dr Nicola Graham-Kevan, Reader in Psychology, University of Central Lancashire
Dr Mike Hartill, Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Sport, Edge Hill University
Dr Ben Hine, Lecturer in Psychology, University of West London
Dr Melanie Lang, Senior Lecturer in Child Protection in Sport, Edge Hill University
Dr Michelle Lowe, Lecturer in criminological and forensic psychology, University of Bolton
Dr Luke Sullivan, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Men’s Minds Matter
Anthony Murphy, Lecturer in Psychology, University of West London
Dan Bell, Features Editor, insideMan magazine
Martin Daubney, Journalist, broadcaster and committee member, Being A Man Festival
Brian Dempsey, Lecturer, School of Law, University of Dundee
Richard Duncker, Founder, Men Do Complain
Alex Feis-Bryce, Director of Services, National Ugly Mugs
Justin Gaffney, CEO, MSH Health & Wellbeing
Glen Poole, UK Coordinator, International Men’s Day
Shane Ryan, CEO, Working With Men
Martin Seager, Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Mark Sparrow, Journalist
Simone Spray, CEO, 42nd Street
Gijsbert Stoet, Reader in Psychology, University of Glasgow
Martyn Terry Sullivan, CEO, Mankind Counselling
Tina Threadgold, Trustee, UKNSWP
Belinda Brown, Honorary Research Associate, UCL