Posted 23 March 2015 1:39pm

An answer for Sara M.

First up, this walk is for Tara Costigan and for her children. It was instigated by Canberra Mums and supported by many people who want to support her children and to see an end to the type of violence which ended in her death. All of us live with an awareness of the potential that many men have for using violence. Those of us who don’t live with it at home see it at school, at sporting events, at pubs and clubs, on the street… We don’t see that with women, particularly with men as victims. Men’s experience of violence, regardless of who the perpetrator is, is different to women’s in many ways.

Just because its not visible doesn’t mean that men can’t be victims of abusive relationships too. We see them sometimes at Canberra Men’s Centre, but not with the same frequency as women show up at women’s support services. While many men can experience serious harm in the way that women experiencing violence can, for many men the impacts are not readily comparable.

Another important area of difference is that the broader community of men don’t have to live with the fear of violence from the women in their lives in the same way that many women live in fear of violence by men they know. Why not walk to end all violence? Because there are many different types of violence, and many different contexts in which it occurs. War, political protest, child abuse, crime-related, bullying, road rage, elder and other family violence, rape and sexual assault. These are all distinctly different, in their frequency, their pervasiveness across all areas of society, and in their short and long term impacts.

A walk to say all violence is bad would be roundly ineffectual, because too many people need to be held to account, too many people who have to live with the effects of violence have to be identified and understood and supported in too many different ways. However, if we stand up and take them on separately, we begin to change the ways in which we relate to violence as a society. Start understanding and dealing with one type more effectively and we build strengths and resources for tackling the others. This happened with child abuse, starting with what we used to call baby battering.

When people try to piggyback other types of abuse onto campaigns and activities which relate to violence to women, the outcome is often conflict and distraction from the experience of those women and the aims of the people organising AND supporting the events. Rather than reducing the overall level of violence in society by tackling a major form of it, piggybacking undermines our efforts.

If you want to support men who have been victims of abusive relationships, do it by encouraging them to seek support. Tell them to come and see us!

via Canberra Men’s Centre.

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