A common question we come across in our work is, ‘What about violence against men?’ There are a number of reasons we focus on the prevention of men’s violence against women, and not violence against men or violence more generally.
Firstly, statistics show that the majority of family violence is perpetrated by men against women – read this great article from our friends at The Line for a range of evidence on this topic. This is not to say that men, people in same sex relationships, or people of any other gender identity do not experience intimate partner or family violence. Anyone can experience not only physical but emotional and mental abuse. Our goal is not to diminish those experiences.
Yet, men’s violence against women is at crisis levels. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has labelled it a ‘national disgrace’[i], and it is. Most recent reports estimate that one in four Australian women has experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner[ii]. We also know that violence against women is reinforced and supported by structural levels of discrimination and devaluation, including social, economic and political exclusion. Given that men’s violence against women is based on an imbalance of power, it requires a different response to general violence or violence against men. Without a narrow focus on this specific problem, we can’t focus on the appropriate solutions.
Working to prevent men’s violence against women does not deny anyone else’s experiences or suggest that men can’t experience violence too. Preventing men’s violence against women does not take away from the battle of reducing violence for everyone. Arguing about why we focus on men’s violence against women does.
We use language like ‘men’s violence against women’ even though it can be confronting, because it is not a passive problem. Men’s violence against women stems from messages and attitudes that affect both men and women, and both men and women need to act in order to prevent it.
Preventing men’s violence against women is not an issue that excludes or belittles men. Preventing men’s violence against women is an opportunity for everyone to recognise and acknowledge the depth of the problem so that together we can make a change and improve the lives of both men and women.
We invite you to visit Make The Link to learn more.