An attendee at today’s Mankind Initiative conference writes…

Our thanks to a supporter for this:

This morning, two days before International Men’s Day, Mankind Initiative held their annual conference.

Mankind Initiative is the UK’s national charity for victims of domestic abuse. It gets very little money from the government and relies entirely on charitable donations for the telephone helpline it operates, which is the only male-friendly domestic abuse line in the UK (01823 334244). I am not part of their charity, so this commentary is entirely unconnected with them.

Nicole Jacobs, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner who was hired two years before her position was made legal, had been invited to talk. If one paid uncritical attention to her words, things sounded good for men who were being victimised at home.

Jacobs said, for one example, that her office is concerned with men who are migrants and the difficulties they have, since they perceive a need to call for help from their partner as having a negative impact on their chances of being granted asylum. Yet if you look at her office’s web page for migrants, there is no mention of helping men and only women are recognised as victims.

Understandably at this conference, she made no mention of the £2m the government had recently allocated to help with the ‘increase in domestic abuse’ (which only ever showed up on help lines, not in refuge numbers or police reports). Had she talked about that £2m extra funding, she might have had to admit that less than 1% went to anything even vaguely like assistance for men.

If a genuine male charity like Mankind Initiative had even the money that the Commissioner costs the taxpayer – £1m per year – they could hugely increase the number of men who are helped.

But the worst of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s behaviour wasn’t even the spin she gave throughout her talk. Right after her talk, even before responding to any of the many questions being put forward to her, she left the meeting. That’s right: Nicole Jacobs, who always makes time for female victim events, did not attend the one conference specific to male victims other than to spread her propaganda and run.

Had she stayed, she would have heard from Liz Bates, an academic researcher from Cumbria University who talked of the way that men are marginalised as victims by everyone from their friends to national governments. Definitely not things wanted to be heard by Nicole Jacobs, whose experience with domestic violence is mostly with the USA’s even more extreme women-victims-only mantra.

Liz Bates also revealed, to my surprise, that there is no sex difference in the likelihood of a victim of domestic violence needing to make a trip to A&E.

Also anonymously speaking from the heart were a father who escaped with his children from a violent woman, and the mother of a man who was killed because of the systemic lack in supporting male victims.

As one speaker pointed out, the social narrative has been so slanted again male victims for so long that even a service genuinely serving both men and women needs to make it specifically clear that they will help men. A picture of a man on literature and website, and a clear statement in favour of male victims, is needed for a man to feel that the service might be for him.

But Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner, who wanted to convince the conference that she really does care about male victims, didn’t stay to hear any of this. Her remit and function come up for review in the next year; we each need to make sure she is replaced.

As one attendee commented privately to me, “I feel victimised afresh by her words and in leaving. I’d have preferred it if she’d been honest about her bigotry.”

If you are being hurt at home, don’t keep it to yourself, even if you believe it is something wrong with you. Call Mankind Initiative during normal office hours, to get their opinion: 01823 334244 and help.

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