At the recent National Conference for Male Victims of Domestic Violence, one of the numerous strong presentations stood out for me, and I’m sure for most of the 120+ people in the audience. It was the presentation given by Ian McNicholl, a survivor of domestic violence. In the final attack Ian’s partner assaulted him with a hammer, breaking numerous bones, including a part of his skull around one eye. This is a PDF of the slides he presented at the conference:
The slides should be self-explanatory. Slide #1 is of Ian giving advice to the actor who plays the character ‘Tyrone’ in Coronation Street. The programme had a storyline in which Tyrone was a victim of domestic violence. Slide #6 includes an image of the hammer with which Ian was attacked.
The Daily Express covered Ian’s story in November 2011:
From Ian’s commentary in the article:
The night before she was arrested in May 2008 I endured an attack that lasted almost seven hours, during which she beat me with a metal bar and smashed my body in various places with a hammer.
Unknown to me, the boyfriend of my neighbour’s daughter had heard the commotion and had called 999 fearing for my life.
My injuries were so severe that doctors initially thought they would have to amputate my arm.
Although Michelle’s sentences totalled 18 years, she was told if she behaved in prison she’d be out in seven years. That was in 2008. Incredibly, she was let out on licence two months ago.
Michelle Williamson served only three and a half years in prison.
Ian was registered disabled after the attack, and he still has mobility and eyesight problems which aren’t going to go away. He was homeless for a time, too, there being no available place in refuges for male victims of DV – hardly surprising given there are so few available, 15 nationally at the last count, compared with 4,000+ places for female victims of DV.
Ian told the conference he asked his ex-partner for an explanation of why she’d attacked him so violently, and an apology. He’s never received either.
If I live to be 100, I don’t imagine I’ll ever witness another presentation so moving. Many people in the 120+ strong audience – both women and men – were in tears, or holding back tears with difficulty. Ian was an inspiration. He didn’t appear to have any self-pity, he saw himself as the survivor of a nightmare. It was an honour after his presentation to meet him, shake his hand, and talk briefly with him. A humbling experience, which brings a lump to my throat even now. He spoke in his presentation of having come close to committing suicide. I haven’t the slightest doubt that had I gone through what he did, I’d have taken my life.
Female-on-male domestic violence is one of many contributors to the persistently high male suicide rate, about which the government has no interest. The latest official statistics (2011/12) showed the male/female suicide rate differential as 3.5:1. As recently as 1981 – when gendered suicide rates were first published in the UK – it was 1.9:1. The differential has almost doubled in just 30 years. The female rate has declined substantially, while the male rate has increased.
Many of the government’s policy directions – including not enabling fathers to see their children, when vindictive ex-partners decide they will deny them access – surely contribute significantly to the high male suicide rate.
[Note added 18.3.14: Three months before the conference Ian appeared (speaking on the phone, not an easy way to be interviewed) on an episode of Woman’s Hour in which the feminists in the studio maintained their men-shaming narratives. Disgraceful. From our YouTube channel:
[Note added 21.3.14: The two lady psychologists who spoke at the same conference were in a BBC studio earlier in the day, being interviewed for Woman’s Hour. They did very well, even after the presenter made a really crass remark about victims of domestic violence in her introduction. The interview – also drawn from our YouTube channel – is well worth listening to:
Ian’s story isn’t unique, of course. But this is neither the time nor the place to trot out the shocking statistics on male victims of domestic violence. I would therefore ask you to do something practical to help people like Ian, and to support Mankind Initiative, one of the very few charities in the UK which supports male victims of DV. You can make a donation through the link below. Thank you.