Victims

The Male Victim

The vast majority of recorded incidents of domestic violence are of men on women. Society, although aware of the male victim, treats him as a joke. In reality he is a man in fear, a man in isolation, a man stigmatised as weak. Why? Because he does not conform to the stereotypical male image. In law, a male victim faces two obstacles; firstly to prove he is a victim, and secondly, to ensure that his children are protected and do not become the new victims. Men very often remain in an abusive relationship for the sake and protection of their children. Most men react by staying silent. Often this silence is encouraged by factors such as fear of ridicule and, the realisation that it is unlikely his partner will be evicted. Even when a man has proved he is the victim it seems his only course of action is to leave the home. He is then separated from his children and often experiences difficulty in obtaining realistic and regular contact with them. He is in fact treated as the perpetrator rather than the victim.
  • Male Victims come from all walks of life, social backgrounds and cultures.
  • Male Victims suffer society’s stigma for not protecting themselves.
  • Male Victims become depressed in their isolation, feel suicidal and sometimes take their own lives without disclosure.
  • Male Victims are victimised because they fail to conform to the Macho man stereotype.
  • Male Victims are perceived as wimps.
  • Male Victims are disbelieved because they are men.
  • Male Victims are refused the status of victim.
  • Male Victims are caring, sensitive men, good fathers and providers. They want help for the abuser not further abuse from society and the caring agencies.
  • Male Victims are removed from or asked to leave their homes because it is the easy option.
  • Male Victims have no support systems in place. They have no “listening ear”.

Fighting the Myths

Modern medicine is aware of certain conditions which may cause people to be violent but we expect such sufferers to seek help or medical treatment. Men are expected to take responsibility for violence and abuse but no excuses are accepted. Yet when a female is violent society provides a list of excuses: Post-natal depression, stress, PMT, eating disorders, personality disorders, menopause, addictions, childhood traumas, provocation, self-defence etc. Although most men will be sensitive to these problems, they should not have to suffer violence as a consequence. When a woman is violent and abusive in a relationship, it is not necessarily assumed that she is a bad mother. If a man is violent towards his partner, it is automatically assumed that he is an unfit parent. The law presumes that the children are almost always better off with their mother. Consequently the only options for men seem to be to put up with the abuse or to leave the home, since under the law there is no real protection for them. If a male victim seeks help, society should offer the same protection and help to him and his children as is given to female victims. Women should be judged by the same standards as men, and women who are violent should be held legally responsible for their actions.

How Men Cope

Men in abusive relationships employ various methods to attempt to diffuse potentially violent situations:
  • go into another room or lock themselves away in a safe place
  • leave the dwelling, go to family or friends
  • sleep in their car, shed, garage or wherever they can find shelter
  • promise to do whatever she asks or demands
  • accept responsibility for all sorts of untrue accusations
  • cover up for their violent partner.
These are all survival tactics but will not stop the attacks. However, most men will do anything in the vain hope of stopping the abuse. What they fail to do is record the incidents, injuries or pattern of events. They fail to tell any family members of the situation and make excuses for their injuries even vrhen they attend the hospital or the doctor. They fear the humiliation and stigma of disclosure even when the abuse is life-threatening.

How Society Reacts

If men attempt to report incidents of abuse they are met with blatant discrimination, disbelief, gender bias and comments such as the following: “You must have done something terrible to her to deserve this!” “Look at the size of you! Maybe she was just defending herself!” “We can’t arrest her – what about the children?” or “Why don’t you just leave?” “Give her time to calm down. ” Society seems to want these men to go away because there is no simple solution to their plight and there are no support systems in place to deal with them. What men should do
    • Always keep a record of dates and times of incidents.
    • Always report the violence to your doctor and to the Gardaí – ensure that they record your injuries and all the details of the assault.
    • Always seek medical attention for any injuries – do not cover up the true cause.
    • Always take legal advice.
    • Do tell your family and friends what is happening to you.
    • Do not be provoked into retaliating.

Victims Letters

 
...On a lot of occasions I nearly left her and my son. Bit I think your support gave me the courage to take another path...
23rd November 2010 Sandra, Aoife and Niamh Amen Dear Friends, Just dropping you a note to say thank you for all your help to me. In the past year I’ve had problems and I called you a good few times. My wife was bullying me, and there was some emotional and physical violence. In the last few months it has very much stopped. The reason mostly is because of the action I took probably. I contacted the Garda, her GP and a Social Worker. The Social Worker came to our house and had a chat with her and the two of us together. I think I changed a good bit too during it all and am better able to deal with life as a result. But the point is, it was fantastic to have your support. I don’t think I could have taken the constructive action I did without your support. On a lot of occasions I nearly left her and my son. Bit I think your support gave me the courage to take another path. Initially it was not too easy to life the phone but once I did call you it always made a big difference to my day and I did not feel ashamed for calling you. The call usually only lasted 10 minutes, which was good and all that, was necessary. In those 10 minutes you were able to listen very well and be supportive and helpful. I always felt that you were on my side. It always felt that you had some training for this job because I don’t know how anyone could be so helpful and yet only on a phone and not physically present. At the end of the call you always told me to keep in touch and let you know how i was getting on and that was great. Its fantastic service and I hope other men in the same situation as me will have the courage and luck to ring you. Thanks a million. Gratefully yours, Jim

  
...When I came through the doors of Amen I was a broken man, I could see no future or happiness or light at the end of the tunnel...
To whom it may concern, My name is D.(34), recently separated man with two kids and dog and all the rest. I want to thank Amen for keeping me sane, safe and alive through the hardest part of my life to date. When I came through the doors of Amen I was a broken man, I could see no future or happiness or light at the end of the tunnel, the girls in Amen changed that almost immediately. They listened to my sorry story with real sympathy and respect and began to guide me through the processes I needed to get back on my feet, some of the things they had to learn with me, so for the next poor bloke coming through he will get there even quicker. Not knowing what to do didn’t stop them finding out and getting me there, they didn’t give up on me like every other organisation on an almost daily basis. Every time I came back to there office worn down by “NO” or “We can’t help you” or some other rubbish they found a way through for me. I am only starting on my journey of single life and child access and all the other wonderful stuff I have to deal with but I would be nowhere without the help and honest concern of Amen and there wonderful staff. I have my own apartment with an extra room for my children to visit, I cook, clean and would you believe even wash my own clothes, this to most people might sound ridiculous but when you have never had to do any of these things they are a big deal. I know I can get through anything that’s thrown at me now, before the support of Amen I don’t think I would have coped, and that is no exaggeration. Thank God there was somewhere for me to go and for other men in my situation, heaven knows what the alternative would be. Sincerely D.F.
 
...I was in a bad way. I had no confidence and felt worthless, afraid to stay and most of all afraid to leave my children...
I’m writing this letter to describe how the good people in Amen helped me when I was at the lowest point of my life. I am a recovering alcoholic and was stuck in a relationship with a lot of mental abuse. I had no one to turn to. I just thought that marriage was supposed to be like that. Having been through a lot with the battle with drink, I thought I was strong and wouldn’t let things show on the outside. But deep down inside I knew I wasn’t being treated like a human being. I was living in a total nightmare. I wasn’t allowed to say or suggest anything, all I was, was a money making machine and a child minder when she was out spending every penny that she got. I was in a bad way. I had no confidence and felt worthless, afraid to stay and most of all afraid to leave my children. My brother took me to Amen, I was glad he did because I wouldn’t have gone on my own, I would have been afraid too. After the first visit it felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I couldn’t believe that two girls could be so understanding. This wasn’t the vision I had of women. They spoke to me like I was a human being and I wasn’t used to that. I can’t explain how much those two girls helped me, the relief of somebody listening to me. The girls suggested some kind of counselling to me. It was then I met a nice man called Michael. I can only describe this man as a genius. He taught me things about myself that I didn’t even realise myself. Being good at hiding my feelings, he would come at me at different angles and I would trip myself up. Every session I had with Michael my confidence was growing and growing. When the sessions ended I missed them, but deep down I knew I had to go it alone and with my confidence growing it was time to put everything into practice and it is working. Last but not least, there’s Brendan. He is very honest and sincere and has a great knowledge of people’s feelings; he has a great way of getting things across to people. It’s lovely trait to have. He has a great way with people. As I said before, I can’t even start to explain the gratitude I have to Amen. My family, friends and work mates all notice the big changes in me since I first went to Amen. I don’t know how I would have coped with my situation. I was nearly suicidal, not knowing where to turn, all I can say is thank god for those great people, I don’t know where I’d be now if I hadn’t went with my brother that night. Thanks everyone in Amen. I am, where I am today because of you all. From, P. Monaghan
 
...He had a bad experience in the early days of their breakup with the social services. They immediately took her side and did not listen to his views...
Mary I am just emailing you to let you know, that I support your group and all the efforts you are making to make the public and the state services know about men’s experiences of abuse, whether it be verbal or physical. I agree with most people in that there is an old tradition here in Ireland, in that the women in a relationship breakup are listened to first and their word taken. Men are not listened to and they are made out to be the villains in most cases. I have direct experience of this. My late partner was so frustrated, depressed and worn out from dealing with his ex-wife’s bullying that he took his own life this summer. We were together for 3 years. He had been separated 6 years. We loved each other very much and he was part of my whole family and friend network. Everyone got on well with him. We were so happy. All this is now gone. His parents, siblings and myself and my family are heartbroken and still in shock. He had his down moments and days in the 3 years I had known him, directly because of his wife messing him around with regard to access to his children and telling lies in court to further frustrate things. She got pleasure in denying him happiness. She would send nasty texts putting him down and telling him how useless he was. He had to bring her to court 3 times to try set access days and she was continually changing things to suit herself and more often than not telling him that his children didn’t want to see him (to make him feel even worse). She was always putting up obstacles but he said he was at nothing bringing her to the attention of the law for denying access as he quoted himself “you would never see a woman jailed for denying access” but if it was the other way around a man would be. He had a bad experience in the early days of their breakup with the social services. They immediately took her side and did not listen to his views. A family liaison officer was due to see them both on one occasion and when he arrived (on time) he discovered his ex with the officer already and she had her speak, to the point that when he went in the officer had formed an opinion of him and made this known when the officer looked straight at my partner and said that she didn’t want any violence or raised voices in the meeting – he didn’t say it to his ex at all, so obviously my partner was labeled as being a violent man from the word go because of his wife’s lies. This is the point I am trying to make that women are always believed – a lot of them lie because they are either evil, or they just want to bully their way in life. She bullied my partner all their married life, so much so that he decided to leave in Oct 01 and when he discussed this with her she turned very nasty and started drinking and taking the children away for days on end and not telling him where they were going. He decided not to leave till things settled down a bit – but in Feb 02 after an argument his wife went into court the next day and got a protection order on him (told lies to get it) as she wanted it to be known that she kicked him out and not that he left of his own accord. She later said that she didn’t mean it to “work out like it did and that she only wanted to give him a fright” – in other words he was to do whatever she wanted. He didn’t return to the home after that as he never trusted her again. He just went to collect his kids whenever he was allowed. She dictated everything. He went into a depression in the summer after that and ended up in hospital and she even tried to bully him while he was in hospital. I know it must have been depression that finally made him commit suicide but I am continually asking myself, if she hadn’t have been so horrible and if the courts and social services had shown some concern over the years, that this would not have happened. It shouldn’t have happened, he was loved and was very happy in our relationship, I always supported and listened to his worries. But a father needs time with his children and needs to know they love him. He was a good man but she made him feel bad about himself. His family would like to take a civil action against her but they would be at nothing in this country. Thanks for taking the time to read this, as it has got a lot of my chest. I haven’t used my partner’s name as I want my email kept confidential – as she is a dangerous woman and would sue me for slander very quickly. Thanks for your reply
 
...I cant understand why he didn't turn to me for help when he felt so low to commit suicide...
Mary, I can’t bring my partner back, but I have great memories and I had 3 great years with him. He was a lovely person, too nice for her – he deserved better, anyone does. I have gone through sheer hell, even blaming myself for not coping that he was depressed – I knew he was in bad form but didn’t realise he was as bad – I have always been there for him through every crisis in the past 3 years and helped him through a lot of sadness, so I cant understand why he didn’t turn to me for help when he felt so low to commit suicide. I have had counselling and it had helped a bit but it won’t stop the awful pain and void I and his family have. Part of us died with him. I think there should be psychology lessons in schools nowadays to deal with relationships and when things go wrong and the consequences of ill treating another human. Maybe it might just save some heartache. As I think in the next generation there will be even more bullying – a lot of women expect too much from their husbands or partners now and some men don’t respect their partners either. I think we need to educate the generation coming up or we are heading for tougher times. Annmarie
 
...On one occasion I was hospitalised when my wife hit me on the head from behind with an iron...
To Whom It May Concern: This man is a farmer and businessman. My name is x, a small farmer living at the above address. I have been a victim of domestic abuse and I am now being abused through the children. On one occasion I was hospitalised when my wife hit me on the head from behind with an iron. I suffered concussion. Up until the summer of 1997 I lived with my wife and three children aged 11-4 but since then my wife has moved out to live with married man in a rented house about three miles away, taking our three children with her. The man she is living with now is a Mr xx of no fixed abode they now live in xxxx. (She is a teacher) At one time when my children came to me they were always at the gate waiting for her for at least a half an hour before she was due to collect them. My youngest son told me that the first to the car got £1, the second a bar of chocolate, the third a nice sweet and the last a ‘yukki’ sweet. Another access arrangement was that we meet in a nearby town, then she changed their watches and clocks in the house and told them, “There you are, your Daddy doesn’t care for you, he doesn’t even bother to come and collect you”. Off she would go and then I would have to go searching for them, very often unsuccessfully. The access time would be over if and when I caught up with them.
 
...I would beg her to stop, try to hug her to show her I loved her, she would kick me, beat me with shoes, the coal shovel...
It is over twenty years ago since I met Lisa, We dated in college. On the first occasion when she assaulted me, she shredded my arms and upper body with her nails. We broke up but she coaxed me back. We finished college and got engaged, about a month before we got married she really went for me, I begged her to stop scraping, pinching, slapping and punching. A week before the wedding I got a lightly bruised eye, not that noticeable, but I still said ‘I do’. On our honeymoon Lisa was driving, I was dumped out on the motorway in England, left and picked up a few hours later. There was no physical contact for at least the first month or more except for thumps and punches to my arms and legs and scrapes. It got worse, I would beg her to stop, try to hug her to show her I loved her, she would kick me, beat me with shoes, the coal shovel, the brush or anything to hand. This went on for years. I would leave; sleep rough in ditches, cardboard boxes, under bridges and derelict houses. I can understand why a man would stay because of the children. I stayed because of hope for children and a better life. I didn’t care whether I lived or died most days, death was preferable, in fact a graceful release, but I just couldn’t do that to my family.
 
...I feel totally alone...
I HAVE been married for 13 years. I have a good job, three lovely children and a good standard of living. And I’m about to leave all this behind. I cannot stand my wife’s behaviour. The rows erupt over the most minor of things, and my wife has become really aggressive — shouting, hitting and throwing things at me. The abuse has escalated, and she has threatened me with a knife on several occasions. I do not feel safe at home and sleep alone with my bedroom door locked. The reasons for these outbursts can be as simple as me arriving home a quarter of an hour late, or one of the children spilling something on the floor. My wife has insulted my family to such an extent that they do not want anything to do with us and have told me to just leave the marriage. I feel totally alone.
 
I'm a 50 year old professional male and I'm also a battered husband...
I’m a 50 year old professional male and I’m also a battered husband. My children are grown up so my fears are not around that. I have lived with and been married for well over twenty years. I have slowly but surely modified my life to such an extent that I have very little life left. I do this so as not to provoke a violent outburst from my wife. I have been punched, kicked, scratched, hit with objects. I’ve had things thrown at me. I’ve had my hair pulled. I’ve put up with all this, I said to myself, for the sake of my children, but now they are grown up working they don’t need me. The violence has lessened over the years but lately it has increased again in both frequency and intensity. I am scared. We have a mortgage and I can’t afford to leave and keep the mortgage repayments. Are there any local support services that I can tap into? I believe that if I remain in my marriage I will be seriously hurt or killed. That’s no exaggeration. As I attempt to take back control of some aspects of my life she is becoming more violent. I need to know what my legal options are. I also need to talk to people so that I can get the courage I need to leave. Thank you for reading this, writing it down has made me feel better. Pat
 
...when ever she came home after drinking it would usually end up in a row and me being roughed up...
My name is Larry. I am married 22 years with three children. One son aged 20, now at college and two daughters, aged 14 and 15. My wife is a professional with a very good job. My story is that the last few years we lived together got bad mainly due to her drinking. I usually went along with what she wanted to do for a quiet life. I tried to stay in the family house to be with the kids. But when ever she came home after drinking it would usually end up in a row and me being roughed up. The final straw was when she beat me up, kicking me in the balls which meant having to go to the doctors. She went drinking after work one evening. I was now living in my own house, next door. She started ringing my phone demanding to talk. I hung up telling her I would only talk when she was sober. I then rang my daughter to see that she and the boys were ok. While on the phone I heard a big bang and the sound of glass breaking. At this stage I was in my bed and told my son what was just after happening. He and my daughter rushed over to my house disarming my wife of a hatchet – she was in my bedroom. She had broken the glass in the back door with the hatchet. A big argument developed. My daughter rang my wife’s sister so she could hear everything that was going on. Up to this her family knew nothing about any of this only the fact that she liked a drink and she might have a small problem. The following day I boarded up my back door and went to work. When I got home my door was fixed and she came over to say sorry. And let that be the end of it. Now when I try to bring the matter up she says I drove her to do what she did and it was my entire fault. I was brought up in a very peaceful home and from the first day I got married I found it very hard to deal with conflict. After the last incident, for the first time I went to the Gardaí and got them to log my story. Larry
 
...If there are other men out there like me, all I can say is God help them...
Dear Mary If there are other men out there like me, all I can say is God help them, if they went through what I did. When we got married I had a good job. My wife changed when we married. I had to bring my 4 month old daughter to work with me as my wife did not want her; she would vanish for days I would have to go looking for her. Every job I got I lost because of the amount of time I had to take off to look after the children. I was abused more and more as the years went on. I was scalded, scratched, kicked and lots more. The children arrived one after another. When I was at work during the day she would leave the five children on their own all day long. I gave in to her moods. She scalded two of the children, they spent a long time in the hospital with burns on their legs and backs. On many occasions I went to the Social Welfare for help, because I was a man I would get no help. Eventually I stopped asking. I did not bother anymore. Had I been a woman I would have got money and anything I wanted. Social Workers do not want to know the lone man parent. They treat the man as an outcast and will not give him any help. A man will always suffer in silence and will not look for help. My wife had affair after affairl, because of this I was given a Legal Separation. I was left to bring up the children – the youngest was 3 months old – all on my own. I got no help from any one and no one cared either because I was a male. I had to sell all my belongings. I suffered suicide point but the children held me back from this, as I love them so much. She has being living with another man now for years.
 
...I had six weeks, this is what she gave me, six weeks to leave the house and to leave my two children...
This began I suppose about five years ago. I was married, happily married I would say, for thirteen years. I had never experienced any violence ( apart from one isolated incident where she abused me in public two years into our relationship we married after another two years ) up to that point in time, not in my family, and neither did my wife. Neither of the two of us drank, we didn’t smoke, so I felt that I was incredibly unique because virtually everything I have ever heard told me that violence comes from drink, or it comes because it was begotten of other violence. I didn’t experience any of this. My wife certainly didn’t experience any of this. However, what did come to pass was that I came back home, I had been away for a few days. I walked through the door and my wife announced to me that she wanted a separation and she wanted me to leave the house. I had six weeks, this is what she gave me, six weeks to leave the house and to leave my two children. And she wouldn’t give me a reason for this. She just said, “I don’t love you anymore, you’ve got to go”. And I begged her to give me a reason, but she wouldn’t give it to me. Eventually I was forced into taking legal counsel because of the amount of letters that were hitting me every day, threatening me with exclusion, being thrown out of the house, etc. So I did go and I spoke to a number of solicitors and they asked me about my life. I explained to them my circumstances and they said, “You have a problem, it’s your best friend”. I couldn’t believe this. I had been going to this best friend of mine with all my troubles. And eventually anyway, it did come out that my wife was having an affair with my best friend. I was further devastated by this revelation as I had known him before I was married. I was going downhill fast at this stage. Up to that point in time there was no violence at all apart from the isolated public incident where she grabbed me by the hair, flung me to the floor and kicked me in the testicles. The trouble really began when I said to her, “You’re having an affair with my best friend, you know this is crazy, we can solve this”. That very night she started to taunt me, she taunted me about the fact that he was better in bed than I was. All sorts of things like that -nasty horrible things. I would be pushed in the hallway, trying to provoke me to hit her back. I wouldn’t do it, I knew better. At that point in time, I knew the reason was that if my control in any way broke, she was going to have me put out of the house. I just knew that was the game. The taunting continued. She moved out of our bed. She moved into one of the other rooms in the house. It is very difficult for me to write about this. One night my wife said to me, she was quite friendly, she said to me, “Do you want a cup of tea”. She hadn’t spoken to me in something like three weeks at this stage. I said, “Yes, thank you”. She came into the room with the cup of tea and she threw it in my face. That was how she gave me the cup of tea, and she laughed at me. I was working at this point in time, working long hours as well, trying to keep the house together. She then started a war of attrition against me, she would play the radio all night long, she would try to keep me awake, she would knock on the door, she would taunt me. She then started to accuse me of the most horrendous things and said that she would use this against me, that I had to get out of the house, otherwise I would never see my children again. I tried everything to talk to her. I said she could have the house, the car, anything. Just allow me to still see my children. She said she didn’t need to negotiate with me. She was going to get it all anyway. Why did she need to negotiate with me? And the truth was, I went to my legal counsel and I asked them, “What would I get out of this, what are my chances of being able to see my children?” And they said, “No chance, you’d be lucky to get a few hours a month”. I was really, really, really down at this stage.
 
...She became extremely jealous and she used say, I loved them more than I loved her...
Dear Mary During the marriage, it ended up that both the children and I were suffering abuse from my wife. The first indication of this was when I came home from work, the children would naturally run to say, “Daddy, Daddy”, which is something which all children would do. My wife was very jealous of the relationship that I was developing with my children. We eventually we ended up having five. She became extremely jealous and she used say, I loved them more than I loved her! I used to have to steal time with my children. She would explode and would go into verbal abuse. Shortly after this was the turning point in our marriage, where the first time she actually did some physical violence was to bite into my arm. And I still have the remnants of that scar today. After she did this, she laughed and she laughed for days afterwards, she thought it was very funny. This was also very significant because of the fact that this was the first time she did commit physical violence and she found that I would not hit her back, and from that point on she knew she could rule by violence. She could dominate the household and she could do whatever the hell she liked and she did. the level of violence actually increased. It was no longer once a month or once a week, it was virtually every single day. As I said, it wasn’t just me, it was my kids. The sort of things that she would do to me were to beat me with the T.V. aerial lead, stab me in the hand. She would drug my tea with medication, attempt strangulation and tried to throw a radio-cassette player into the bath. Fortunately enough the lead was about six or eight inches too short. About a year before my marriage actually ended, I was diagnosed mentally and physically exhausted by the doctor. My body weight dropped by two and a half stone. I was having blackouts. It got to the stage where I was actually frightened to say anything in case it actually invoked her violence and anger and boiled into more physical and more extreme violence. After the marriage actually finished, her legal people wanted the children to see a psychologist for assessment before the courts. I had the first interview with the psychologist and I explained the sort of behaviour of my wife towards the kids and me. And her first reaction was, “What did you do to make her do it?” What I did is, I stood in front of my children when she came after them, I took the punishment instead of my kids and I don’t apologise for that, I’d do it again. I had the nerve to say no, to disagree with what she wanted to do and if that didn’t work, she went to the old reliable taking medication and pseudo-attempted suicides. But this time there were actually social workers getting involved with the family and they had witnessed the assaults on me and the children, but I never received any support. My wife did but I didn’t, and at one stage she actually moved out of the house and she took the kids with her. The Health Board put her up in a house with the children and that same night she moved a man into the house.
 
...I went to the doctor and he sent me to hospital. This is a sad life...
Dear Mary, I have to way this is a sad letter for me to write. Since I spoke to you I feel a bit better. I am sorry I did not have the guts to ring you years ago. My wife has been beating me for years now but for the sake of the child and my home I have said nothing, also because of the embarrassment of people laughing at me. I am big and she is small. Nobody would believe it when she was pregnant she stabbed me with a knife but for the sake of the child I let it go. I don’t want to lose my child but she tells me that the judge will not believe me and he always takes the woman’s side. After speaking to a Garda and you I think I might have a chance to get my life back. My wife had an affair. She is still with him and she stays out until four and eight in the morning. She is gone three and four nights a week. I asked her to come home early but she said that she was under a curfew to no one. In the morning my son asks me “Is mammy home yet?” It is so sad to hear him say that – we would be better off on our own. I always took my child to mass, now she won’t let him go with me. When my son was about eight to ten months old I was feeding him in the sitting-room when Joan came in and said that she did not know why I was so fond of him as he was not even mine. I felt sick but I told her I did not care, that I loved him and I would mind him. Last Monday night when I came home from work I asked her to get her dogs out of the house. She hit me across the back with the brush and she said that I would be gone before the dogs. I told a Garda about it and he was very nice and understanding about it. He told me to go to a doctor about it so in the morning I went to the doctor and he sent me to hospital. This is a sad life. Jim
 
...when I try to bring the matter up she says I drove her to do what she did and it was all my fault...
My name is Ciaran I am married 23 years with three children. One girl 20, now at college and two boys 15 and 16. My wife is a professional with a very good job. My story is that the last few years we lived together got bad mainly due to her drinking. I usually went along with what she wanted to do for a quiet life. I tried to stay in the family house to be with the kids. But when ever she came home after drinking it would usually end up in a row and me being roughed up. Eventually I left the house and moved into another house which I used to rent. The final straw was when she beat me up, kicking me in the balls which meant having to go to the doctor. The treatment lasted six months. Another incident she went drinking after work one evening. I was now living in my own house which was next door. She started ringing my phone demanding to talk. I hung up telling her I would only talk when she was sober. I then rang my daughter to see that she and the boys were ok. While on the phone I heard a big bang and the sound of glass breaking. At this stage I was in my bed and told my daughter what was just after happening. She and my boys rushed over to my house disarming my wife of a hatchet – she was in my bedroom. She had broken the glass in the back door with it. A big argument developed. My daughter rang my wife’s sister so she could hear everything that was going on. Up to this her family knew nothing about any of this only the fact that she liked a drink and she might have a small problem. The following day I boarded up my back door and went to work. When I got home my door was fixed and she came over to say sorry. And let that be the end of it. Now when I try to bring the matter up she says I drove her to do what she did and it was all my fault. I was brought up in a very peaceful home and from the first day I got married I found it very hard to deal with the conflict. After the last incident, for the first time I went to the guards and got them to log my story. Ciaran.
 
...I had no one to talk to about my situation...
My name is Denis and I have been coming to Amen for the past 4 months. As I am from France I had no one to talk to about my situation. I felt very isolated and I was devastated when my wife took our child from our home. She also made false allegations against me. These have been fully investigated and I have been completely exonerated. She wanted me out of our home and because I wouldn’t leave willingly she tried to get a barring order against me. She failed to obtain this order as the judge said it was a mischievous application. She has now moved back into the home with our daughter. Since coming to Amen I have been able to talk about my situation to other men in similar circumstances. This has brought me relief, I feel more confident now and more able to deal with my situation. As well as group counselling I have been able to avail of one to one counselling. This has helped me enormously particularly before court and other hearings. Denis.
 
...I know I will have access but that is not the same. I don't want to be a Saturday Dad...
My name is Rowan I am 42 and I have suffered intermittent violence from my wife for many years now. I heard Ms Cleary on the radio this morning and I was glad to hear someone showing a different slant on domestic violence. For some time now all I have heard in the media has been how men are the perpetrators in this area and while I know it is important to stop all domestic violence, this has been hard to listen to. The situation has turned out in my case that my wife now wants a separation i.e. me to leave the home or to sell the family home and for me to support my wife and two children. Because of a letter from her solicitor I have had to secure a solicitor who tells me that the courts weigh heavily in favour of the woman. I have never abused my wife physically or mentally nor have I ever taken a second partner. I know the separation will grievously hurt my children. I cannot understand how when there are four of us in our family, only one person has the veto over the rest of us. I do not deserve to have my children grow up without me or I without them. I know I will have access but that is not the same. I don’t want to be a Saturday Dad. Thank you for reading this. Regards Rowan.
 
...I haven't seen my two younger children since I left in August as my wife says it would only confuse them...
Hi, I’m a forty year old man who has had to leave the family home due to verbal, mental, and now physical violence. I had to leave due to physical violence & I am now living in my car. I haven’t seen my two younger children since I left in August as my wife says it would only confuse them and that was what their social worker said also. I regularly see my eldest son who is fourteen. He hates living at the house. My wife is a bully. She has bullied me all our married life. She also bullies my 14 year old son and has in the past beaten him with a mini baseball bat and a hard plastic brush which she broke on his back. She has also kicked him in the back whilst he was on the floor. In December my wife had to attend the hospital. I drove her to and from there. One day she started throwing chairs at me and as I was getting out of the house she slammed the hall door on me cutting open my hand and fracturing and cracking my elbow. I already have a back and neck injury caused by an accident at work and can no longer go to work. Housing say because I have a house and income that I cannot be housed so I live in a car worrying about my eldest sons safety and mental health. I’m lost with what to do. The social worker said my son could live with me but I have nowhere to live. I’m going to see what the social worker can do. I’m currently living in Co. Cavan. A friend of the family has let me stay with them but for a short time. I cannot be housed because I’m a homeowner. I can’t afford accommodation because my wife gets the majority of the money. Thank you for getting back to me to try to help. It seems everywhere I go I get nowhere. Tom.
 
...I have encountered disbelief, amusement and a willingness from others to justify my wife's behaviour...
I would like to state that I am a male victim of Domestic Abuse, where the abuser is my wife. I am a member of the Gardaí. I am 40 years old. I have been married for 15 years The abuse took the form of physical, verbal, mental, emotional and psychological abuse. Physical abuse includes the following: A broken rib from a punch Three broken ribs from being pulled out of bed and hitting the floor A back injury (nerve damage) this occurred whilst I was pulled out of bed by the hair during my sleep A fractured finger from an impact blow as my hand was on the kitchen work-top Multiple bruising on many occasions I have had tufts of my hair pulled out again and again I have been kicked, punched, kneed in the groin, pushed and pulled around In the summer of I996 I received a particularly had beating from my wife. She used various tools cg. pliers, screwdrivers, snips etc. I suffered extensive bruising to my arms, legs, buttocks , back and legs. Most of the attack took place to the rear of my body. I crouched in a defensive position and used my arms to protect my head and so most of the bruising was to my arms and back. I did not use any physical means to defend myself, I did not retaliate, I simply waited for the beating to stop. A day or so later I had my injuries recorded by the family doctor (female). Her attitude was one of bemusement, indifference and hostility. She insisted on telling me about the female victims of domestic abuse she encounters, as if it was my fault. She certainly did nothing to encourage me to report further incidents. I appealed to a female Social Worker for help she suggested I should pack my bags and leave despite the fact that I have three young children. My life would not be worth living without my children, they mean everything to me. I did not take that option. This woman gave me no support whatsoever. In fact, she was positively hostile. I went to the District Court to apply for a protection and safety order. At the front desk the clerk was both surprised and amused at my plight. In the interview room the next clerk was a little more sympathetic if somewhat disbelieving. The clerk who called my name to appear in court forcefully suggested that I was the Respondent and my wife the Applicant when in fact it was the other way around. He said that men were always the Respondents. He had a very aggressive attitude towards me from start to finish. I was wearing a short sleeved shirt and bruising to my arms was clearly visible, this did not register with any of them. At this point I was feeling isolated and very nervous as I had never been in court before. I was the victim and was treated badly by all to whom I turned for help. The judge gave me a protection order, my wife laughed at this and said, “I’ll fix you” and promptly applied for a protection and safety order against me. There was not a mark on her. She was very verbally abusive to me, said I was a ******* idiot, not a real man, she could ‘have any man she wanted and suggested that perhaps I was not the father of my two boys. According to my wife I was useless, no good, full of shit, thick, an arsehole, no one else would have you, etc., etc., etc. These are some examples of the emotional and psychological abuses I have suffered for years by my wife. I have medical evidence of the injuries described in this account. I have encountered disbelief, amusement and a willingness from others to justify my wife’s behaviour. On occasions I have, on my wife’s insistence, left the family home. Then she accused me of desertion. I was denied access to my sons. Then again on her behest I have returned to my home. When I return she says I am a wonderful husband, a good father and she can’t live without me until she feels safe to return to her violent behaviour. I have put up with this abuse for years in order to be with my children. This is a partial account of some of the abuse I have endured for the past 15 years.