Domestic Abuse Bill

Written evidence submitted by Mr Andrew Pain (DAB60)

Survivor of Domestic Abuse, TEDx Speaker (Domestic Abuse – not a gender issue’ Link to talk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HgPICMQLls&t=327s ),

Business professional and currently co-leading a project to support male survivors of domestic abuse.  

 

1. I am writing to you today as a survivor of female perpetrated domestic abuse, during my marriage from 1999-2009. The relationship broke down in 2007, with a full divorce being issued in 2009. In 2012, both daughters from that marriage (aged 8 and 11 at the time) were moved to the courts to my residency.

2. I want to thank you all for the part that you’re playing as members of the House of Commons Public Bill Committee, Scrutiny Unit, on Domestic Abuse. The Domestic Abuse Bill could not have come at a more crucial time, as Covid-19 shines a spotlight on domestic abuse, with a sharp increase in incidents across the U.K. and the rest of the world. 

3. I fully support the Government in ensuring that the statutory definition of domestic abuse is fully gender inclusive/neutral. Thereby ensuring there is full alignment with both the reality of domestic abuse in the UK and a 21st century modern, inclusive and diverse country. This will reflect a human rights-based and non-ideological view of domestic abuse.  The reasons why I support this are set out in the following paragraphs

4. Despite a commitment to support all victims, domestic abuse is still seen by the majority of Governments and other national and international organisations, as an issue that exclusively affects women and girls. Male victims, (gay, straight, bisexual and transgender) may get a brief mention during debates but their experiences are often immediately minimised and parents abused by their children and sibling abuse is rarely mentioned, yet hugely common in UK homes. Without inclusive language, victims will feel less confident that they'll be taken seriously in speaking out and communities will be less aware. 

5. I often see the following in; the media, within politics and in general conversation:

"The evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of victims are women."

The UK Statistics Authority upheld complaints in 2009 and 2019, over the misleading use of the phrase "overwhelming majority" to refer to the proportion of female victims of domestic abuse.

"Relatively small numbers of men."

A substantial 786,000 men, were recorded victims of domestic abuse last year, with men being recognised as three times less likely to report their abuse than women. Many of these 786,000 men will have children that are also suffering.

"Men experience abuse to a lesser degree." 

My experiences include extreme violence and long term emotional abuse which took me years to recover from (Link to my TEDx talk where I describe my experiences and the wider struggle faced by male survivors - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HgPICMQLls)

To minimise an individual’s experience, simply because of their gender, is morally wrong.

Men are often only mentioned when discussing the need for perpetrator programmes. 

Female perpetrators are being let down, by domestic abuse organisations that fail to recognise them. There have been a number of studies that show that perpetrators are often victims of some form of historical abuse themselves and this was certainly the case with my abuser. However, whilst there are a number of male perpetrator programs in the U.K., female perpetrator programs, remain scarce. Therefore, those women perpetrating domestic abuse, can’t get the help that they need and inevitably, move on to abuse other men (or women) and their children.

6. The bold statements and comments above, are factually incorrect and are based only on prejudice and discrimination. We are finding that the domestic abuse discussions today, are gynocentric, with gamma bias, playing a pivotal role.

7. Each time a Government Minister talks about domestic abuse in The House of Commons or to the press, because a new campaign is being launched, a new law introduced, or another media article published, they have the opportunity to reach out and offer hope to all victims and their children. But when they talk about domestic abuse as an issue that only affects women and girls, it sends out a very loud and clear message to male victims and their children, that they’re invisible and that nobody cares about them. It also increases their level of isolation and despair, pushing them further into the arms of their abuser

8. I hope that by encouraging gender neutral and inclusive language within the Bill, that will foster genuine equality and encourage others to do the same, and that over time, this change in language, will help to break down the social stigma and gendered stereotypes that surround domestic abuse, and result in male victims being discriminated against, by those that should be there to help them. A discrimination that is contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

9. If gender was placed in the statutory definition, then this will lead to the creation of a victim hierarchy rather than being based on individual risk/need of a victim (and their children). This is not in keeping with equality-based, diverse or inclusive policy making or law.

10. I also support the measures regarding the cross examination of victims within the family courts. And the proposed inclusion of Economic Abuse in the new legal definition of domestic abuse. Having been cross examined by my ex-wife and ex-abuser in the family courts, I can vouch for just how distressing it is.

11. I believe that the Bill should include parental alienation "as a clearly defined act of domestic abuse against a parent." "PAS [Parental Alienation Syndrome] has an impact on the alienated parent (ex-partner) that is clearly aimed at causing psychological, emotional and financial abuse against them. It is also clearly controlling and coercive behaviour and would fit under the government definition of domestic abuse". Having suffered from parental alienation, I can testify to the damage this does to children, let alone as a parent. 

The psychological, emotional and financial abuse caused by PAS involves:

- The deliberate nature and behaviour of manipulating a child against an ex-partner causing psychological and emotional harm;

- The deliberate nature and behaviour of manipulating a child against an ex-partner is coercive and controlling behaviour;

- The psychological and emotional harm against an ex-partner by the wilful, deliberate and continual breach of Child Arrangement Orders;

- The financial abuse by the wilful and continual breach of Child Arrangement Orders means the non-resident partner having to constantly seek further legal redress ultimately with financial burden of doing so.

- In conclusion, Parental Alienation Syndrome would fit squarely with the government’s proposed statutory definition of domestic abuse and should be included as such."

12. I would respectfully request, that the Scrutiny Unit of the House of Commons Public Bill Committee on Domestic Abuse, help to make the Domestic Abuse Bill, the beginning of a Government commitment to end gendered language and uphold the Equality Act. 

13. I would be happy to meet any Member of Parliament that would be willing to hear my story of abuse, it’s long term affects and how the negative, gender stereotyping of men, as always being the perpetrator and women always the victim, seriously affected the way I was treated by the authorities.


Yours sincerely,
 

Andrew Pain 

June 2020

 

Prepared 11th June 2020