Squaring the Circle: Contact Denial as Coercive Control?

Since Theresa May’s announcement that men who shout at their wives could face up to 14 years in prison, the issue of coercive control has been in the media.  Launched by a plethora of largely meaningless headlines, the idea that coercive control is a new offence which tightens the net around nasty men, protecting feeble victim women has been on our front pages recently.

Interpreted by women’s groups as being behaviour designed to control women’s freedoms, actually coercive control is defined as follows

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

Which pretty much makes this a gender neutral piece of legislation, meaning that it covers the behaviours of both men AND women.  The problem of course is, that any piece of gender neutral legislation, when enacted in a gender biased field, ends up re-inforcing gender biased outcomes.  Which means that this legislation ends up without a doubt, being about nasty men and defenceless women who are being bullied and nothing else.

What it is most definitely not interpreted as is ‘contact denial’ that pattern of behaviour which is both coercive and controlling in that it involves the systematic interference of a child’s relationship with a parent on a deliberate basis designed to cause harm and abuse.

So it is with sinking heart that I hear stories of FNF’ers attempts to have contact denial or parental alienation – a label it is often interwoven with, labelled domestic violence (because it is coercive control). Sinking heart not because denying a child a relationship with a parent to cause hurt and abuse to both child and parent IS NOT controlling and not coercive, but sinking heart because in the field we are working in, the lack of sophistication in the father’s movement, in raising awareness of critical issues, always leaves me either cringing or despairing.  This latest effort is again doomed to fail in my view, not because it doesn’t have truth in it but because it simply starts from a hopeless place.  Like squaring the circle, as a policy initiative, contact denial as domestic violence is a non starter unless the underlying conditions that allow breaking of relationships between parents and children are changed.  Asking policy makers who are steeped in stereotypes of bad dads and Madonna mothers to accept that said Madonnas are capable of dishing out a dose or two of coercive control by withholding their starving wains from their brutish fathers, (and calling that domestic violence) is akin to telling them that Cinderella was a right old witch who deserved what she got.  It isn’t going to work, it simply won’t wash, it will, like so many of the attempts made to change things, die a lonely death like an old man shouting into the wind.

But that said, there is truth in the statement that denial of a relationship between parent and child on a deliberate and conscious basis, IS a pattern of coercive control.  There is no doubt for example, in the work that we do at the Family Separation Clinic, that alienation in a child often continues a pattern of behaviour which was present between parents before the separation.  Fathers AND mothers are alienated in this way and it is a dynamic which is very clear and persistent in certain groups of alienating parents. It is also well recognised in the international research*.  In order for us to recognise this as mental health professionals however, we have to first of all remove the ‘lens’ through which we understand domestic abuse or as we call it at the Family Separation Clinic, family violence.

It is this lens which causes the father’s movement to fail in trying to establish policy initiatives that highlight the issue of denial of a relationship between parents and child.  This lens is the feminist analysis of family and the violence that takes place in the family.  This feminist approach,  which is unashamedly political in nature, has been popularised over the years to mean that all men’s violence stems from their inherent privilege and all women’s violence is either non existent or, where it is provable, it arises either from mental health problems (caused by men) or self defence.  To speak against this analysis is to be decried as either a victim blamer or violence denier, both of which are designed to silence critics.  This version of domestic violence is accepted almost wholesale amongst social workers and family court professionals, even though it is, without a doubt both political in nature AND based upon faulty statistical evidence.  That this approach to understanding family violence is both accepted AND unchallenged on a policy level by FNF’ers has never ceased to amaze me. Indeed there is even an FNF’er who appears to be publicly supporting feminist analysis of DV as a policy initiative in a convoluted and entirely incomprehensible strategy to improve outcomes for fathers (see comments below).  Little wonder squaring the policy circle and raising the issue of denial of contact as domestic violence looks like an eccentricity instead of the serious policy proposal it could and should be.

In order to achieve the goal of raising the issue of relationship interference and coercive control, one must first tackle  the use of feminist analysis of domestic violence as the dominant approach to understanding violence in the family.  Family violence is a serious and long standing issue which has not, in all of the forty years or more been either stopped or ameliorated by the use of feminist analysis and feminist ‘treatment’ of the problem.  That is because the feminist analysis is based upon a political construct, that of men’s inherent privilege and women’s inherent disadvantage.  The correction of this being the reversal of the power hierarchy and the deliberate punishment of men by women in order to change who holds power and control.  In the family sphere this most often hands control to women after separation and allows them to both dominate and drive the post separation relationship. In this arena, deliberate, conscious, moderate or even mild interference in relationships between children and the parent they do not live with is remarkably easy to achieve. This handing of power from men to women was a deliberate act by feminist policy makers. It was successful to the degree that it gave women control over men after separation, but it failed in its entirety to arrest patterns of coercive control in relationships between men and women.  That is because it is based on the concept of power over, not power between. In the feminist analysis, men’s power over women must be corrected by giving women power over men.  In a non feminist analysis, power over is neutralised to become power that is held between, which leads to very different outcomes that include the whole family, something that is specially important for children and especially for the parents they need all through their lives.

In a non feminist analysis of family violence used at the Family Separation Clinic, we look at patterns of transgenerational behaviours in both men AND women and we examine the ways in which power over and power between parents influences the way that they make post separation arrangements.  When we look at violent behaviours we look at the roots of this, at rage behaviours and the lack of brain development, of learned behaviours and learned helplessness and we assist families to put in place not blame and an exchange of power dynamics but learning and healing and behavioural change.  When we analyse parental alienation using a non feminist DV model, the route to repair for the  whole family becomes possible. Compare this to the routine parentectomy which is prescribed and carried out by those who use feminist approaches and which is accompanied by the easy dismissal of the needs of children for two parents working together.

That is not to say that we do not safeguard our families, we do.  That is not to say that we do not boundary individuals in families, we do.  But we also treat them and help them instead of condemning them. And for me, it is this that is the new policy initiative, not efforts to shoehorn ‘contact denial’ into a paradigm that created the very word ‘contact’ to cause fathering after separation to sound and feel to a child like something scary or not worth the effort.

To persuade people that ‘contact denial’ is an act of coercive control and therefore domestic violence also requires that the current court processes, which allow for the effective ending of a relationship between a parent and child based on allegations proven or otherwise of domestic violence are stopped.  The willingness to end a child’s relationship with a parent based upon the current system of no contact until investigation cannot be acceptable unless it is being carried out in the shadow of a feminist analysis of domestic violence. This analysis, which persuades us to accept that men are inherently dangerous, also captures mothers in its net by teaching us to assume that all allegations are true until proven otherwise. This is contrary to the justice system which teaches us that we are innocent until proven guilty but is based upon the feminist argument that all men are inherently dangerous (and in this paradigm, so are women who are evicted from their children’s lives by the controlling father who persuades the child to make allegations against her mother). All of these scenarios are happening every day in our family courts and all of them stem from the use of feminist analysis of family separation which is political in its construction and designed to drive power into the hands of women.

Family violence, however it is carried out, whether it is a one off event, situational, coercive or otherwise is a criminal act and should be heard in a criminal court without delay.  Whilst awaiting judgement, children and the parent who has been alleged to have been violent should remain in close relationship supervised, supported and faciitated.  When the allegations have been heard, then decisions can and should be made about the nature of the ongoing relationship between the parent and child, with support given where necessary and help and assistance to bring about behavioural change put in place. Should allegations be found to be malicious or unproved, these should be regarded as co-ercive controlling behaviour.  Coercive controlling behaviour in all its forms may require some intensive correction and safeguarding may well be necessary for a time. Those who control through fear and harm, whether they be mothers OR fathers should face punishment. Triaging those relationships where there is immediate danger, using a differentiation route, allows for the immediate safeguarding of those most at risk. It also prevents the routine use of false allegations and it helps those families where the roundabout of repeat violence, separation and reconciliation cycles are present.  These are the things that must change if coercive control patterns that prevent a relationship with a child after separation are to be recognised as domestic violence.

Finally, to convince the electorate that coercive control is more than bad men and oppressed women we have to raise the worth of fathers in their children’s lives, a worth which has to be upheld as distinctly different to that which is attributed to mothers. This in itself is an uphill battle and will become even more  of a problem now that the Jennifer Mcintosh circus in the form of the Mindful Policy Group has rolled into town.  If ever there was a target for those interested in modern family policy, this backward step heralded by Penelope Leach’es poisonous invective about children’s overnight stays with their father is it.. Having recently been made aware that the MPG are about to start training mediators, lawyers et al in the neuroscience of separated parenting, to my mind this is where all of the efforts of those of use committed to whole family post separation support should be focused. Remember, laws can be gender neutral but become gender biased in the enactment of them. MPG could so very easily turn the clock back forty years on services surrounding our separated families (more on that in days to come).

Can the fathers movement strategise to prevent the UK heading down the alleyways of the past or will we, even before we got to say the word modernise, find ourselves stuck in a place where contact denial is a justifiable act. Because in the world of the UK DV lobby, anyone who does not see their children must have done something to cause it and all women must be believed without question. The reality that allegations are often made by people who have psychological problems or people who are in high levels of emotional crisis is not tolerated in this world. Thus the reality of denial of the relationship between child and the parent they no longer live with as a pattern of coercive control which is designed to cause harm is both hidden and denied.

I no longer work in the charitable sector and I no longer work with government, I chose instead, with Nick, to walk away and work directly again with the families that need our help. In our world, where family violence is wrong and must be stopped, healing and teaching and changing behaviours is what helps families to end the transgenerational patterns of coercive control and non feminist/non political analysis is what makes the difference in our work. Ironically it was exactly this understanding of the field that I work in that caused a lawyer this week to accuse me of ‘spouting off’ with ‘clear political bias.’  In a field which is riddled with political bias, in which forty years of women’s political activism has effectively silenced, strangled and shunted fathers (and some mothers who are regarded simply as the unintended consequences of feminist policy) to the margins of their children’s lives, I consider it to be one of my greatest achievements to be able to speak the truth of what I see as well as continue to help families change and grow and heal.

Squaring the circle is not impossible but it requires a strategy in which the voices that speak are brave enough to face the truth of the multi-factored barriers that must change if coercive control is to include denial of a relationship with a child. Anything less is appeasement and whining into the wind and the families we work with deserve so much better than that.

* For the largest piece of research on statistical evidence around Domestic Violence worldwide please go to http://domesticviolenceresearch.org/pages/12_page_findings.htm

In this unprecedented undertaking, a total of 42 scholars and 70 research assistants at 20 universities and research institutions spent two years or more researching their topics and writing the results. Approximately 12,000 studies were considered and approximately 2,000 were summarized and organized into tables. The 17 manuscripts, which provide a review of findings on each of the topics, for a total of 2,300+ pages, appear in 5 consecutive special issues of Partner Abuse published between April, 2012 and April, 2013. All conclusions, including the extent to which the research evidence supports or undermines current theories, are based strictly on the data collected.

Facts and Statistics on Prevalence of Partner Abuse

Victimization

Overall, 24% of individuals assaulted by a partner at least once in their lifetime (23% for females and 19.3% for males)
Higher overall rates among dating students
Higher victimization for male than female high school students
Lifetime rates higher among women than men
Past year rates somewhat higher among men
Higher rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) among younger, dating populations “highlights the need for school-based IPV prevention and intervention efforts”
Perpetration

Overall, 25.3% of individuals have perpetrated IPV
Rates of female-perpetrated violence higher than male-perpetrated (28.3% vs. 21.6%)
Wide range in perpetration rates: 1.0% to 61.6% for males; 2.4% to 68.9% for women,
Range of findings due to variety of samples and operational definitions of PV
Emotional Abuse and Control

80% of individuals have perpetrated emotional abuse
Emotional abuse categorized as either expressive (in response to a provocation) or coercive (intended to monitor, control and/or threaten)
Across studies, 40% of women and 32% of men reported expressive abuse; 41% of women and 43% of men reported coercive abuse
According to national samples, 0.2% of men and 4.5% of women have been forced to have sexual intercourse by a partner
4.1% to 8% of women and 0.5% to 2% of men report at least one incident of stalking during their lifetime
Intimate stalkers comprise somewhere between one-third and one half of all stalkers.
Within studies of stalking and obsessive behaviors, gender differences are much less when all types of obsessive pursuit behaviors are considered, but more skewed toward female victims when the focus is on physical stalking
Facts and Statistics on Context

Bi-directional vs. Uni-directional

Among large population samples, 57.9% of IPV reported was bi-directional, 42% unidirectional; 13.8% of the unidirectional violence was male to female (MFPV), 28.3% was female to male (FMPV)
Among school and college samples, percentage of bidirectional violence was 51.9%; 16.2% was MFPV and 31.9% was FMPV
Among respondents reporting IPV in legal or female-oriented clinical/treatment seeking samples not associated with the military, 72.3% was bi-directional; 13.3% was MFPV, 14.4% was FMPV
Within military and male treatment samples, only 39% of IPV was bi-directional; 43.4% was MFPV and 17.3% FMPV
Unweighted rates: bidirectional rates ranged from 49.2% (legal/female treatment) to 69.7% (legal/male treatment)
Extent of bi-directionality in IPV comparable between heterosexual and LGBT populations
50.9% of IPV among Whites bilateral; 49% among Latinos; 61.8% among African-Americans
Motivation

Male and female IPV perpetrated from similar motives – primarily to get back at a partner for emotionally hurting them, because of stress or jealousy, to express anger and other feelings that they could not put into words or communicate, and to get their partner’s attention.
Eight studies directly compared men and women in the power/control motive and subjected their findings to statistical analyses. Three reported no significant gender differences and one had mixed findings. One paper found that women were more motivated to perpetrate violence as a result of power/control than were men, and three found that men were more motivated; however, gender differences were weak
Of the ten papers containing gender-specific statistical analyses, five indicated that women were significantly more likely to report self-defense as a motive for perpetration than men. Four papers did not find statistically significant gender differences, and one paper reported that men were more likely to report this motive than women. Authors point out that it might be particularly difficult for highly masculine males to admit to perpetrating violence in self-defense, as this admission implies vulnerability.
Self-defense was endorsed in most samples by only a minority of respondents, male and female. For non-perpetrator samples, the rates of self-defense reported by men ranged from 0% to 21%, and for women the range was 5% to 35%. The highest rates of reported self-defense motives (50% for men, 65.4% for women) came from samples of perpetrators, who may have reasons to overestimate this motive.
None of the studies reported that anger/retaliation was significantly more of a motive for men than women’s violence; instead, two papers indicated that anger was more likely to be a motive for women’s violence as compared to men.
Jealousy/partner cheating seems to be a motive to perpetrate violence for both men and women.

47 comments

  1. 123 · December 13, 2014

    A lack of a think-tank within FNF leave them both without co-joined policy or open to criticism for the same. There might be individuals who happen to be FNF members with both good and bad, or good but ill-informed ideas, like any individuals, but their expressions cannot be associated with FNF as a whole just because they are members. If there is an’FNF-er’ espousing such a policy initiative as outlined above – it wouldn’t surprise me – but I doubt he has the support of the membership as a whole.

    FNF fight the problem on the ground. It’s a training ground for those who want to learn how to get through a pathetic and biased system in one piece. A ‘good’ outcome is that they get standard contact and don’t spend their life savings, and borrow the next few years savings, to do so. So far as anything else is concerned, on a broader campaigning or research scale, the money appears to wastefully allocated. The regional branches doing the hard work seem to rely on their own efforts to raise their own cash.

    I’d be careful about slamming FNF too hard in case litigants who may otherwise have been helped appropriately get turned off. The sources of advice with a demonstrable record of success in family courts are very few indeed. FNF (in the regions) is one of them. If the upper echelons could get anywhere as good at what they are supposed to be doing as the regions are in their role, things’d be fine.

    Getting on to the emotional abuse. UK criminal law has no provision to assist children emotionally abused. The only place they can have their case heard is the public or private law courts of the family division. s1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 covers mental abuse but only defines physical abuse as under the remit. It was made in the days when it was adversity in childhood made people tough.

    The US has some interesting law. Florida:

    827.03 Abuse, aggravated abuse, and neglect of a child; penalties.—

    (b) “Child abuse” means:
    1. Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;
    2. An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child;

    (d) “Mental injury” means injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment in the ability of the child to function within the normal range of performance and behavior as supported by expert testimony

    (b) and (d) above would catch the effect on a child of parental alienation.

    An astute safeguard is that experts who testify in criminal courts in FL do so in public, on camera, and in any case have to be specially qualified.

    I wonder why they don’t just cut and paste the above into law. If the British Establishment cared enough for children, we’d have beaten the yanks to it. Now, we may as well admit the UK is behind, and to catch up in good enough time we need to copy. Any talk by law makers in this country will dilute the effect of any laws they pass.

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    • karenwoodall · December 13, 2014

      so who are FNF then? I am not bashing I am interested in who is representing these families at policy level. Maybe I should keep my nose out as I no longer work with government but who is going to stand up to MPG and their Mcinstoshing of the field of family separation. I love FNF groups I think they are the best pastoral care possible but some of the stuff I hear about policy sounds like poorly thought out hopeful stuff rather than the teeth that is really needed right now.

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  2. repeatedPattern · December 13, 2014

    I am sure they would want to edit it, and to thank you for drawing the mistake/typo to their attention.
    Do you have a link please, Karen. “Indeed there is even an FNF’er who appears to be publicly supporting feminist analysis of DV as a policy initiative in a convoluted and entirely incomprehensible strategy to improve outcomes for fathers”

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    • repeatedPattern · December 14, 2014

      Posts below show the info linking to the unfortunately expressed opinion, so readers can get to the bottom of that small part of Karen’s overall article.

      It looks like, in the article by Mr Apreada, he aimed at heavy *** sarcasm *** throughout, as his template concludes with
      “We have no confidence whatsoever that the Welsh Government’s existing plans contained in the Gender baed Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill as introduced will do anything to address the problems faced by male victims and so regrettably we feel that their absolute exclusion is the best course of action in the circumstances.”

      but as always, the written word only has the tone of voice in the head of the reader, not the tone in the head of the author.

      May the world recognise the gender neutral necessity of victims, perpetrators alike so that all can focus on the kid’s need not to be put in the middle of one or other parent that wants to hurt the ex more than they want to love the child

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  3. J · December 13, 2014

    Trying to think of another football analogy to throw into this discussion to follow on from the offside rule analogy I used in the previous discussion, there’s one brewing but its not quite developed enough yet!

    Instead, some comments around what I think is the main thrust of the article, which is that until attitudes towards domestic abuse change, forget any ideas that contact denial will be considered coercive control and thus domestic abuse. I have typed this into Word, and copied and pasted, so I apologise now for the length, but I think it is especially relevant to this article Karen.

    At the start of the 16 Days of Action recently, I went to a debate at a local University, which included on the panel Elfyn Llwyd MP who presented the proposed new bill to Parliament and Harry Fletcher, Criminal Justice Director of Digital Trust, who so far as I understood their relationship helped draft the proposed bill.

    Also on the panel was our local Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (who looked nonplussed throughout much of the debate), the Chief Executive of a local region of Women’s Aid, and a female solicitor who heads up a domestic abuse unit at her legal practise. A friend and I attended to represent male victims of domestic abuse, which in both our cases includes violence.

    We had hoped that the debate would consider the proposals to introduce the new apparently ‘gender neutral’ bill from a gender neutral perspective, discuss its potential merits, and scope to drastically reduce all forms of domestic abuse, and in so doing level the gender playing field, go some way to dealing with children being used as weapons after separation.

    That may sound rather over optimistic, but it was optimism born out of the fact that our local county council have over the last few years created and developed a domestic abuse forum with policies that appear to acknowledge domestic abuse to be a social rather than gender issue, and have produced some excellent literature to support this gender neutral approach.

    Further, the university where the debate was held have previously worked closely with the local council, and with groups that support both male and female victims such as my friend and I, which is how we came to be invited and attended.

    It was therefore a shock that the discussion that morning still went very much along those traditional stereotypical lines you described, in particular ‘all of women’s violence is either non existent or, where it is provable, it arises either from mental health problems (caused by men) or self defence’

    To be fair to Elfyn, he did try to rein in some of the other panel members (Harry, Women’s Aid and the solictor) and get them to talk in less gender specific terms, but he was outnumbered and the message just kept coming through that victims of domestic abuse were almost exclusively women, and this was the group that any new laws or funding or sympathy etc should focus on.

    The view of the attending Women’s Aid CE (not necessarily all entirely the same views as those held by Women’s Aid nationally, she did at least point out) was that if the new law was passed and came into effect, it would result in numerous false allegations against women, and innocent women becoming criminalised.

    She spoke almost entirely and exclusively in terms of women becoming victims of the new law, in the same way as she had about them being victims of domestic abuse. This was despite my mate having by this stage spoken extensively about the physical violence he had suffered, the bias from the police when he reported it, and the false allegations against him that had subsequently followed from his ex wife.

    Getting back on topic, and to agree with what you have said about the chances of contact denial being treated as coercive control, when I eventually got the opportunity to speak, I rather tongue in cheek went straight for the jugular, and asked if when the new law is passed, and there continues to be multiple breaches of the Court Order for my kids, and my ex continues to use them as weapons to beat me with, rather than file yet another application to the Family Court for enforcement, to be ignored, should I perhaps just dial 999 and report it as a criminal offence?!!!!

    Elfyn was quick to respond, saying that no, not at that stage, but once the Family Court proceedings had concluded, he could see no reason why I could not then report it to the police and ask them to investigate…interesting! I pushed a bit harder, pointing out that if a criminal offence was taking place, and a Family Court Judge became aware during those proceedings, surely there would be a responsibility upon the Judge to halt those proceedings and insist the police were involved?

    He responded saying that of course if Judges have concerns about the welfare of children in the Family Court arena, they would need to make appropriate referrals, but I was left feeling that maybe we had opened a whole can of worms, and a potential overlap between the family and criminal courts that, dare I say, had not been properly considered?

    As I said, my question was somewhat tongue in cheek, as knowing how difficult it is for a male victim of even physical abuse to be taken seriously, I already knew that phoning the police and crying down the phone whilst telling them that my ex wife was preventing the children from seeing me, and that this was coercive control, would frankly just be met with the same nonplussed response as the expression on their Deputy Police and Crime Commissioners face throughout the debate!!!! (I honestly felt rather sorry for him, poor bloke, he looked like he was okay really!).

    I then took my tongue out of my cheek, and pointed out rather more seriously that children being prevented unnecessarily from seeing one of their parents (I tried extremely hard to keep my own argument gender neutral) is abuse of them, and of that parent. I asked how, when the police and criminal justice system can frequently be so ineffective at dealing with even quite serious cases of domestic violence against either gender, where there might be a whole portfolio of photographic evidence of injures, they thought after a change in the law they would be able to deal with the subtleties of coercive control, and in particular when contact denial was the main issue?

    Now, at the start of the debate, the Women’s Aid CE, and the solicitor had explained how female victims are often not believed, and not taken seriously, and effectively victimised all over again by the authorities that are supposed to help and protect them……and I have to say that their combined response to my question left me knowing exactly how those women feel.

    They both said almost word for word that contact would never be allowed to be denied to any parent unless there was a very good reason for that parent not having contact with their child.

    I replied “ really?” and they both repeated it again, and in such an accusatory way that, well, I was so upset, and angry at their complete ignorance to what actually happens when a child is deliberately alienated from a parent, that I could have cried and certainly could not speak any further. They knew nothing of my situation, they made no attempt to find out, I was clearly just another winging father to them, their response was frankly disgusting.

    Apologies again for the length of this, but hopefully it has highlighted exactly what you said in your article about attitudes to domestic abuse needing to change before there is any point at all introducing the idea that contact denial is coercive control and therefore a criminal act. There are a couple of other points that arose during that debate that I will try to post later, rather than lengthen and complicate this post any further.

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    • karenwoodall · December 13, 2014

      cracking reply J really really getting to the meat and bones of this and highlighting what I am trying to say in this article. This is not about bashing FNF or FNF’ers or any other F’ers either it is about trying to dig underneath the reality facing the issue of coercive control and the way in which it is completely shunted to oneside when it is about denial of a relationship. I know that many men cannot speak up and I know that to sit in government around the policy table is terrifying when everyone else in the room is going to roar with laughter when one says that domestic violence is not a gender issue (believe me, NIck faced that on more than one occasion) but unless we face this and unless we join men and women together to fight this and unless those left with a voice in government say it somehow we are going to be Mcintoshed before you can say Jennifer. This for me is the heart of the debate about family law and how it is enacted, this for me is what policy debate and policy development needs to examine. Some will say I should keep my mouth shut but working for children and best outcomes as I do I simply cannot and actually will not because it is this issue, at the heart of our government that puts kids like Daniel Pelka and Baby P in the morgue because whilst everyone is busy saying DV is a gender issue that only affects women, these kids get killed because their fathers were shoved to the outer margins of their lives and could not protect them. This is a child protection issue as much of what I do is, this is why this needs discussing, debating and deconstructing and I am really grateful J for your contribution.

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      • J · December 13, 2014

        Thank you for those words Karen, as you and Nick have rightly recognised, it was not easy for me and my mate to sit there, then speak out, knowing that we would effectively be ridiculed for doing so by most of those on the panel. To be fair to Elfyn though, he seemed okay, possibly even onside?!!!!

        This might be an appropriate point to comment on that other point which came out from that debate about which I said I would write about. I just wanted to comment on the title of the new bill, as I am not sure if the reasons for it are widely known, and whether they are or not, it makes little sense, unless perhaps you view it from the feminist perspective that you describe so well Karen.

        So why is the new bill which is all about making a criminal offence of all forms of domestic abuse, including coercive control, emotional, psychological, financial, physical, sexual etc etc and not forgetting violence, so just why is it going to be called The Domestic Violence Bill, rather than The Domestic Abuse Bill, which would surely make far more sense as it encompasses everything else?

        During the 16 Days of Action debate, Elfyn Llwyd, who presented the proposed new bill to Parliament, stressed that his preference had been to call it The Domestic Abuse Bill, as this seemed rather more appropriate, but it had he said been changed to The Domestic Violence Bill at the insistence of Women’s Aid (nationally).

        The Women’s Aid CE woman on the panel insisted that the reason for this was continuity, so that it echoed the recently changed Government definition of domestic violence, which now includes coercive control and all the other forms of domestic abuse, which would itself I presume have been worded in that way due to input from Women’s Aid, or I guess other feminists?

        Now maybe I am being a bit picky here, maybe the actual name of the bill is rather less important than the content, or is it? Perhaps I am being a bit cynical, but I am guessing there is a motive and an agenda behind Women’s Aid wanting that word ‘violence’ to be included the title of the proposed new bill?

        Could that perhaps be to distract from the many other forms of abuse, those that are frequently inflicted on men, such as emotional, psychological and financial abuse, which can come under the collective heading of contact denial, and to focus minds on purely on the abuse suffered by women, which might typically be seen as ‘wife beating’?

        As a final thought on this issue, Panorama on Monday evening, Domestic Abuse – Caught on Camera, whilst the cases they portrayed were horrific and I have every sympathy and concern for those female victims, is it just me, or did that program focus 100% on abuse suffered by women, 100% on violence, without a single mention that other abusive behaviours can be as harmful as a violence, and men can be victims of domestic abuse too?

        What disappointed me most about program was that one of the major professional contributors was from that local university where I attended the 16 Day of Action debate, and she made no attempt in her comments on air to stress that this was not a gender but a social issue, she came over as biased as the program overall.

        I can only hope that she did indeed make balancing comments when interviewed but those were edited out by the BBC, which if that is the case, does not say much about the Panorama team, it certainly did not appear to be a balanced piece of reporting.

        Like

      • karenwoodall · December 14, 2014

        **Now, at the start of the debate, the Women’s Aid CE, and the solicitor had explained how female victims are often not believed, and not taken seriously, and effectively victimised all over again by the authorities that are supposed to help and protect them……and I have to say that their combined response to my question left me knowing exactly how those women feel.

        They both said almost word for word that contact would never be allowed to be denied to any parent unless there was a very good reason for that parent not having contact with their child.**

        This is EXACTLY my point about the political nature of the system that the family courts work in where the handing of power from one gender to the other is inbuilt into the enactment of legislation, leaving one group empowered and the other group disempowered and unheard and suffering from institutionalised abuse.

        In a binary system where men and women are pitched against each other, one wins and one loses – how can that possibly be anything other than damaging to children?

        How can that possibly be called in the best interests of children?

        It is not. It is political and it is damaging families daily.

        There are other ways of delivery post separation family support and we can and should be arguing that the current system is politically interested and not fit for purpose.

        It is NOTacceptable in the 21st Century for people to be suffering institutionalised abuse. The pendulum must be brought to a place in which everyone in the system receives the support that they need and people are treated as people, not as victims and perpetrators in a politically motivated analysis.

        Like

      • repeatedPattern · December 14, 2014

        It was not acceptable in the ’60s, and it’s less acceptable now.
        Rather than divide from people who have the same views, will you unite, and help “square the circle”, or do you think your one voice (however powerful) is enough to square it on your own (+nick) ?
        😉

        Like

      • karenwoodall · December 14, 2014

        have you been reading my comments repeatedPattern?

        Thus far my one voice and Nick’s have been speaking about this consistently for 15 years.

        Erin Pizzey speaks about it and so do others.

        If I thought I could square it on my own do you think I would be writing this publicly?

        Stop being mischievous and read what I have written.

        Like

      • repeatedPattern · December 14, 2014

        Your other responses have helped me understand your point of view better. It was a question, not intended to be mischeivous. I understand better now that you would welcome unification if the problem and solution was spelt out more clearly, so that you would not have to be an isolated voice of reason.
        Thank you for being patient.
        I hope the various places will come together after working out their internal issues first, with something that is coherent and that all or most can agree with, to ofset the powerful and harmful voice – in essence that women’s aid simply didn’t know when to stop, and neither did the politicians.

        One point which hits powerfully home – it is not a gendered issue. It never should be. It is a children issue. It is a family issue. It always has been. It always will be.

        DV – whoever is physically or emotionally violent should know it is not OK. The victim gets support regardless of trouser or skirt, the pepetrator prosecuted.
        Contact – whoever is the resident parent should never use children as pawns to hurt the other parent – it is not OK.
        It’s about acceptable behaviour vs unacceptable behaviour
        it’s about mental illness vs mental health
        it’s about intergenerational family illness repeating vs breaking patterns
        it’s about people & humans being the best they can possibly be, rather than passing issues possibly inherited from their parents onto their children

        Maybe it’s time for FNF and Women’s aid and all other gendered brands to rebrand and remove gender from the debate entirely.

        Maybe it was time 10 years ago, but better late than never.

        Like

  4. repeatedPattern · December 13, 2014

    “When we look at violent behaviours we look at the roots of this,”
    you might like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHtO8dz-8po (grandmother infl on mother =false allegations)
    “at rage behaviours and the lack of brain development””
    you might like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAL-1xzSs34

    Frankly, more straight-talking video needs to be produced perhaps with yourself and such straight talking experts as these all in 1 room at one time. Interested?

    Yes, this issue is puffed up by obscured statistics. This man says it simply, just like geldof did. Everyone knows using children as pawns to exact revenge is evil, and everyone knows it is still happening today just as much or more than it was 40 years ago.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · December 13, 2014

      thanks will have a look at this, this is the kind of stuff we need to build up and work with. I am working with Erin Pizzey on development of transgenerational models of dv analysis, this is the kind of thing we have to do to bring about change.

      Like

      • repeatedPattern · December 13, 2014

        Rumour has it that FNF are undergoing massive reorganisation at last.
        Their new website is just the tip of the iceberg.
        Under the water is a collaborative attempt to pull together a proper library.
        Perhaps it’s time to give them a second look ? 😉
        Rumour has it you have a tremendous amount of fans inside, and respect.

        Like

      • karenwoodall · December 13, 2014

        I like FNF and I like FNF’ers but I really really struggle with some of their policies and I find it deeply frustrating that we don’t have a unified voice on whole parenting strategies in the government. I will of course always give everyone as many chances as they need and my big ears are listening 🙂

        Like

  5. Vincent McGovern. · December 13, 2014

    I’m a senior member of Families Need fathers, Chair of Central and North London Branch which between them have approx 1,000 attendees per year. I won’t get into an FNFv Karen Woodall argument as that helps nobody. I have had 4 Ombudsman Investigations in my favour (2 were Parlia @Health Service) and I have addressed the Petitions Commission of European Parliament twice in 2014. The 2nd occasion I used work kindly provided by Karen Woodall. That said I personally welcome the grotesque child endangering gender discrimination laws being passed and I hope for more of them. My reasoning being men and fathers are in such denial about where they are in modern society that things will have to become worse before they will wake up and take corrective action which does not mean back to the past but rather forward in an enlightened and equal manner.

    The few people currently aware and effectively addressing this are mostly female, KW and Erin Pizzey in the lead. When I speak to men outside of this business their eyes glaze over. Similar to the last Dodo when it greeted Dutch sailors approaching it with raised clubs in the 18th century.

    In the European Parliament the MEP’s I met consider the UK to be in the dark ages. And that is from hardened feminists who unlike the toxic lot in the plethora of children’s and family court services in UK genuinely believe in equality. A huge difference in mindset and outcomes for children between Continental Europe and UK. That is the road to solution. Gender Neutral Impartial Professionalism. I won’t hold my breath.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · December 14, 2014

      Vincent, this article is not bashing FNF and not trying to start a fight with FNF either, it is based on the fact that FNF are the only voice in government speaking about these issues which affect families and they are up against the absolute might of the women’s interest groups. This leaves the field so massively unbalanced right at the time that the MPG are starting their Mcintoshing that I fear for what will happen in the next ten years. Maybe I should keep my big mouth shut but I can’t work in this field knowing what I know without speaking the truth because if I don’t then I will simply become one of those who profit from the abuse and I could not live with myself if I did that – which was why I walked away from government in the first place.

      Perhaps someone at FNF might be interested in the steps I have laid out and perhaps someone might be interested in how to develop a policy initiative – much like the one that you have initiated in Brussels around the themes we know need to be addressed. That someone will have to be brave enough to sit in a room and say that DV is not a gender issue (and it is really not if you look at the stats in the research I have laid out below) but if they do they will be better representing children and families than any of the other politically interested groups.

      I know that feminists in Europe look at what is going on here in bewilderment, I am not surprised at that. Feminism took a very different turn elsewhere to here.

      I am actually not even trying to bash feminists here, I am trying to show that using a politically interested approach to a problem like family violence in the field of family separation causes the forty years or more of repeated violence and breakdown that we have seen thus far. Which is why the UK has such high rates of family breakdown and such low rates of co-operative parenting.

      This whole concept has been kicked off by your work in Brussels and the comment made by a lawyer last week that to critique CAFCASS and the system is politically motivated. It made me realise that people do not understand that the system is already hugely politically motivated and underpinned by gendered delivery of family services. It made me realise that these arguments need to be articulated as carefullly as possible in order to try and raise colelctive awareness.

      I don’t think ANYONE who is not directly affected really understands what is going on which is why when families enter the court process they are utterly utterly bewildered and eventually destroyed by it.

      It is a family killing machine and it doesn’t have to be. We don’t kill the families we work with we repair and heal them and where we cannot do that we leave behind as much conciliation work as we possibly can so that the possiblities for healing are there.

      FNF could be pushing this possibility at policy level, you are doing so in Brussels not because this is a father’s rights issue but because it is both a family issue AND a child protection issue.

      Like

      • repeatedPattern · December 14, 2014

        so, so, so well said Karen

        Like

  6. padrestevie · December 14, 2014

    Hi Karen

    I agree that producing good counter arguments is essential. But I feel that releasing the stranglehold that a certain demographic exerts upon policy is even more important.

    You have highlighted the lenses through which family policy is examined and projected. Unfortunately, we have become so accustomed to a particular viewpoint that we have forgotten how to change the lens in order to alter the focus, depth of field and vista.

    Exinjuria and your response to him cover one of the main causes eloquently.

    https://exinjuria.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/hey-trinder-leave-them-lips-alone/

    The way in which the MOJ procures expert advice leaves a lot to be desired. I realise that this thread is specifically concerned with coercive control but the same problems apply in virtually all aspects of law.

    For some years it would seem that whenever the Ministry of Justice or its subservient Family Justice Board require an “independent report” or a piece of “research” they invariably call upon the same coterie of academics to duly oblige. These are direct commissions, as in the most recent study, but sometimes the work is directly commissioned and funded by philanthropic organisations (with other agendas) such as the Nuffield Foundation.

    I am deeply concerned to note that the lack of competition and transparency involved in appointing academics to produce reports, that bear a heavy influence upon policy and justice, appear to be less rigorous than those required in appointing a contractor to sweep our pavements. I would suggest that these defects in procurement procedures are very easily rectified and should be without delay. The MOJ should lead by example and perhaps take some lessons in good practice from other branches of government who have also been quite rightly criticised for a lack of transparency when it comes to paying for services with our money. The use of private and “philanthropic” money to fund judicial advice is also a highly questionable and perhaps unethical practice.

    This very small pool of academics are not the sole guardians of intellectual capital in the family law sphere. Their persistent input, to the exclusion of other valuable and often far more able sources, brings disproportionate influence to policy from ideologies that do not adhere to the paramountcy principle i.e they do not place the welfare of children at the heart of the family justice system and favour a doctrine in its place. Their continued domination has stultified the development of informed policy.

    Furthermore, this lack of transparency at the core of the justice system:

    • Fails to ensure value for taxpayers money,
    • Fails to ensure the highest possible standards of research and reporting,
    • Fails to ensure the best possible input,
    • Lacks diversity,
    • Prevents accountability,
    • Circumvents normal academic processes of peer review,
    • Devalues confidence in the family justice system,
    • Undermines the integrity of the family justice system,
    • Lays the system open to accusations of bias and cronyism.

    Adopting good practice in providing services that we all pay for helps ensure a level playing field. It should not need to be asked for. It should be provided as a matter of course.

    Like

    • repeatedPattern · December 14, 2014

      100% agree, even if off the direct topic.
      ’twas like mcfarlane being on the norgrove report, them implementing it, now being the judge of the last resort on what it said.
      closed detached shop. No opinions other than what the existing rulers want, are allowed..
      Which is then back to Karen’s topic the fathers rights “movement” needs to get moving and get clear. It’s not really about fathers rights, its about the rights of their children to continue their relationship with their fathers post-separation without being used by resident parents for their indictive agenda,

      Like

      • padrestevie · December 14, 2014

        Than you rP.

        The example might be a little off piste but the principle is a common one.

        The point is that arguing about the content of these reports is a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

        Encouraging transparent procurement procedures does not require legislative change and i would suggest that the burden is upon the MOJ to explain why they favour opaque procedures over transparency.

        If there is a tendering process then at least there is an opportunity to get objective information before the legislature instead of a constant flow of one-sided propaganda.

        It’s a relatively straightforward way of stemming the tide and potentially changing a responsive and reactive pattern of behaviour into one which is proactive and creative.

        All we would need to do is ensure that suitably qualified people win tenders for the work. But, although that is a separate problem at least there would be an equal opportunity.

        Like

      • karenwoodall · December 14, 2014

        BANG ON THE MONEY. This is not about fathers rights it is about the well being of children and how the gender neutral legislation is enacted in a gendered way which produces gender biased outcomes.

        We tried. We really really tried and we did get somewhere in the DWP in particular but we were beaten back by the women’s rights groups and our whole family practice got turned into something unrecognisable.

        For me the next step has to be about articulating the underlying barriers that prevent this country from adopting the kind of support to families that encourages them to co-operate instead of turning them into single parent families and pretending that this is because the other parent is somehow mad/bad or dangerous. Other countries do not operate their post separation family support in this way and we don’t have to.

        This is about the family services that surround the legislation and the way that it is enacted to drive gender biased outcomes.

        And in a gender analysis, which is a tool that is used widely in Europe to ensure that policies and practice drive equality based outcomes, our system is broken and biased.

        And that is not a political statement it is a statement of fact based upon research that we undertook in 1999 with the Oxfam UK Poverty Programme which if anyone is interested I can point you to.

        Like

  7. raybarry · December 14, 2014

    Excellent analysis as ever, Karen.

    There is a HMG e-petition which seeks to include parental alienation within the definition of domestic violence and abuse, as a first step towards criminalising this behaviour: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/60995

    On its own it won’t achieve anything, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · December 14, 2014

      will have a look Ray and sign it and will write more about this soon too. K

      Like

    • R · December 15, 2014

      signed it
      thanks for drawing attention to it

      Like

  8. Nick Woodall (@woodall_nick) · December 14, 2014

    I think that this is the kind of clueless politicking that Karen may be referring to:

    ‘Apreda took the unexpected move of backing Women’s Aid’s request for the Bill to focus on women and girls and called for the Welsh government to develop an additional strategy for helping men and boys.

    “Having read through the consultation responses received from a variety of Women’s support groups we understand their concerns about commissioners ‘coercing’ women-only DV services to open their doors to men,” said Apreda. “We share their worry about the dilution of the focus on protecting women and girls – and have come to the conclusion that the Welsh Government has completely miscalculated with this proposal.”

    ‘We believe that if the Welsh Government fails to put forward a credible, realistic, appropriately funded and timely response for male victims they will be in breach of UK legislation on Gender Equality,” said Apreda. “We stand ready to work with Welsh Government on this separate agenda and we hope we can count on the support of Welsh Women’s Aid to return the support we’re giving them now”.’

    Whilst cosying up to Women’s Aid perpetuates the problems men and boys face, it does help to ensure that the government grants keep flowing.

    Like

    • repeatedPattern · December 14, 2014

      Ahhh. Thanks Nick. The penny finally drops.
      Yes, it could have been better worded.
      Maybe Apreda’s overloaded and got it out too quickly.
      I see his approach is to hghlight that if funding only goes to one gender group, the welsh govt would be discriminating. Personally it looks like it coulda/ shoulda been better thought through.
      FNF represent mothers equally against injustice, where they are the NRP, and grandmothers too. Yes, perhaps it should not be about creating a new empire to balance against a women’s only service at all, but ensuring womens aid are opening their doors to all genders of DV.
      Perhaps an own goal in wales may have been scored here.

      Like

      • Anne O Regan · December 15, 2014

        RP, as someone who has campaigned tirelessly against the Ending Violence Against Women bill. I am shocked at the suggestion a home goal may have been scored. The situation as it stands, the title of the bill is undecided, the principle of the bill is set in stone. The overriding focus will be on Women and Girls. The Wales report last Wednesday Leighton Andrews was more concerned about should the teaching of healthy relationships in schools be included in the draft. The pilot scheme was run in my area. I sincerely hope these feminist will not be left lose on our children especially our sons. There is no possible way can we change the focus of the bill. If they changed the title they would only pay lip service to male victims. I would say Paul Apreda is right in responding in this way. A separate bill for men and boys is the only way they will secure appropriate support and funding for male victims.

        Like

      • karenwoodall · December 15, 2014

        Do you really, honestly believe that the feminist campaigners are going to give one inch or one pound of funding to a separate bill for male victims, I mean do you really? Are you not aware of the historical resistance that Women’s Aid have put up against funding being devolved to men’s issues. Anne, I am told you have worked tirelessly and I am sorry not to be able to agree with you but I am sorry, this is the biggest own goal in history. There is no likelihood of there being separate bill and no likelihood ever of there being funding for men’s shelters. This is an appeasement strategy in the hope that it will be reciprocated, it won’t be. It will die a death like a lonely old man shouting into the wind.

        I am more than willing to debate this in public or private and I am more than willing to give Paul, you or anyone else the right to reply on the matter. I am sorry if it seems personal, it isn’t, it is a matter of public interest in my view and it should be debated publicly. To have what Paul Apreda is doing compared to Erin Pizzet’s work is a travesty in my opinion and it is not right that people are lead to believe that what he is doing is somehow radical, it isn’t radical at all. It is worrying, incredibly worrying.

        Like

      • repeatedPattern · December 15, 2014

        I am not new to the situation.
        I am however new to the gender neutral idea which I’ve not seen expressed so clearly before as on Karen’s website/blog. (see final line)

        She probably is not the first. I have no idea why her message sunk into my consciousness as deeply as it did, perhaps it is timing.
        I also saw several Dr Phil videos just days before, and he uses very simple language, shing the issue to be very simple indeed.

        Violence should not be tolerated, in any form
        It doesn’t matter if the perpetrator is male, female, a child or frankly a pink alien
        It doesn’t matter if the victim is male, female, a child or frankly, a pink alien.

        We have the equality act.
        Discrimination is illegal. None of these human rights organisations should be gender focussed today – whether or not their titles or websites ‘happen’ to be so is a question of legacy and brand recognition which takes time to change. However, on the front of each in prominent place is that the doors should be open to all victims, and any which is not should rightly be pulled down just like any other illegal activity.

        It’s long since time that the batlle of the sexes debate be closed.
        Who cares anymore?
        “Shut up” & listen: recognise whether it’s 99% women and 1% men, or 99% men and 1% women, or any ratio inbetween, no organisation should be so prejudiced as to not help someone from any gender when they come for help.

        In families, Children are in the middle no matter who is beating who, or who is using them against the other parent.
        If there is geuine physical violence or co-ercive control, it matters not if the victim is a 200kg man or a 55Kg woman …. or a 10Kg child. Any door open to one should be open to all, and the services once inside delivered without fear or favour.

        The quicker the ‘adults’ shut up about their gender issues and focus on the children, the better.
        Likewise the quicker the DV polarised factions stop arguing about what percentage is what and get on providing services, sympathy & support to sufferers NO MATTER THEIR GENDER, the faster we can move on from society’s decay.

        Any govt passing a law or funding an organisation which has a hard and fast slant that violates equality, should simply be deemed unlawful and torn down.

        Thanks Karen, for helping me to see the wood for the trees, and restoring simplicity to the underlying messages.

        Like

      • karenwoodall · December 15, 2014

        it is interesting RP because laws should actually be gender aware not gender neutral because that is how you proof legislation against delivery of gender biased outcomes. If in Wales Paul Apreda had refused to support VAWG on the basis that men were not properly represented based on the actual statistical evidence which I have laid out above and he had demanded that the VAWG act was renamed and re budgeted along the lines of the equalities act then he would, in my view, have been doing something useful. But to support the VAWG act as it stands, in the belief that men would not get support and hope that in the future a separate strategy for men would be developed is just silly because DV in Wales will be defined now as VAWG and the needs of men who are victims will be dismissed popularly as has been described in comments on this blog. The place to fight for men is within the legislation which is being developed and fight it hard and fight it long with all the evidence you have at your disposal and to group together to fight it with others to build a movement that demonstrates the reality of the evidence. That chance appears to be lost now and the trojan horse that is supposedly being built in Wales is never going to get into the golden palace because the feminist resistance to it is too strong. You cannot challenge the act on the basis of the Equalities act because the definition of DV in Wales will be set both at legislation level and in the enactment of it as being about violence against women and girls, which means that challenging the lack of funding for male victims will require at least a challenge in Brussels under EU legislation and if the Tories win this election we will be pulling out of EU legislation anyway. It is folly to support this in my view and I view with dismay the comments today elsewhere that he is somehow doing something positive for fathers, I fear he is doing nothing of the sort and that what is really going on is a lot of cosying up to the dominant womes right groups in order to obtain or maintain funding and therefore somehow a ‘voice.’ What is the point of a voice if it does nothing but allow the system that has shafted families to continue? I appreciate that some don’t like this public debate, which for me is always a sign that people are anxious about what is going on, but people are very very welcome to a right of reply if they want it as is anyone in the field of this work who wants a say on this particular matter.

        Like

      • repeatedPattern · December 15, 2014

        I’m more into the coercive control part of the article, than I am the politics of wales or feminist/anti feminist debate to be honest, and I’m certainly not interested in funding at all.

        If a man walks into a women’s shelter seking refuge, having been physically abused by his wife, and is turned away to the sound of motorised cameras, I suspect all those points would become moot.

        wouldn’t that be quicker than all this debate?

        Please stop fighting amoungst each other, or i’ll set up the center for separated action groups 🙂

        Lawyers have always fomented dissent,
        No argument, no fees.
        Support equality for all, no less and (if i understand the “anti-feminists”) no more. Simple.
        Kiss)or not), make up (or make peace) and support each other for the sake of the children – isn’t that the point of this site & service? 🙂

        Without inviting criticism of Dr Phil, he does show that the entire audience are capable of understanding his point in 40 minutes. Why can’t we copy his simplicity to do this in less than 40 years? Are we making things too complicated?

        Christmas is upon us, so perhaps time will permit to gain a fresh and simple perspective.

        Happy christmas to all, including my alienated son who I hold in my heart & memories, until we get a system he deserves.

        Like

    • padrestevie · December 14, 2014

      Hi Nick

      Here are some links:

      This also links to a template for others to send in.

      https://www.fnf-bpm.org.uk/news/branch_info/index.html#.VI2DNCiwUVQ

      This links to the article you appear to quote from.

      http://www.inside-man.co.uk/2014/09/10/welsh-gender-politics-putting-male-and-female-victims-at-risk-says-mens-charity/

      Fnf do some great work at grass roots level but when i see this nonsense i feel shafted and compelled to ask,

      “Who are you working for?”

      It’s certainly not me or many other Dads like me.

      It really is painful to watch people gain positions of influence only to blow the opportunities and alienate their membership.

      I despair.

      Like

      • karenwoodall · December 14, 2014

        I do too Padre Stevie but perhaps there are some FNF voices who might be interested in doing something different……I have my big ears listening for possibilities. K

        Like

    • karenwoodall · December 14, 2014

      If what Paul Apreda is doing is arguing for separately funded and separately delivered refuges for men then what he also needs to be doing is arguing that they are funded properly in ways that reflect the statistical evidence on DV affected men. He then needs to be arguing with Women’s Aid that if 40% of victims of DV in Wales are men then 40% of the funding for DV in Wales needs to be going to fund separately constituted refuges for men. And he needs to be asking Women’s Aid to support that. I hope he might come on here and tell us whether that is indeed what he is doing and what Women’s Aid’s response to that demand is.

      IN order for Women’s Aid to support refuges and funding for male DV victims they must first accept that a) women are violent and b) men do not deserve the violence they receive. If they can and do accept that then we are onto a winner but given that the argument about male victims of DV is usually articulated as same sex violence – man on man or women’s self defence, I cannot see this happening in the near future.

      The core of this argument is – are women violent? The evidence I have posted, which is the largest study in the world of the evidence is – yes they are. This study shows us that violence in families is not gendered, it is not about patriarchy and it is not about bad men and innocent women. When we grasp that as a whole we will take one giant leap forward in our support of families and we will begin to tackle the problem of transgenerational harm done by violence in the family. And the family will become a stronger and safer place and the red herring of patriarchy, which has taken us down some blind alleyways over the past forty years will be exposed for what it is – a political construct which has no place whatsoever in family services.

      Alternatively Mr Apreda can carry on with his unfathomable strategy of appeasing feminists in the Welsh Government and elsewhere and change nothing at all for the vulnerable families and children he is supposed to be representing.

      Like

      • Anne O Regan · December 15, 2014

        I don’t believe it would be Women’s Aid would be providing the funding if it were a separate bill for men. Safer Wales fund the DYN project for male victims who are also very involved in Women’s aid. If Paul Apreda is right, then perhaps Women’s aid wouldn’t get 98% of the funding when men make up 40% of the victims. If Pauls strategy is unfathomable how would you tackle this feminist dominated Welsh government on changing policies?

        Like

      • karenwoodall · December 15, 2014

        I have laid it out for you Anne as clearly as I possibly can. It won’t be Women’s Aid who provide the funding no, but it will be Women’s Aid you have to fight for the funding and the ‘accurate statistics’ they use. And it will have to be people whose minds are already made up and persuaded by five years of women’s aid et al’s strategising that you have to ask for support…and when you do ask for 40% of the funding because men suffer violence too, you will be met by the stonewalling of the collective feminist groups who will laugh at the idea that violence is not gendered …because of course it is gendered, the ‘statistics’prove that it is and anyway why are you arguing about it, FNF BPM supported the VAWG act….Anne, I am really really sorry but I think this is a terrible own goal which is going to have lasting repercussions for fathers and men in general for a long time to come.

        Like

  9. Eric D. Tarkington · December 15, 2014

    Personally, I think the law will have little effect on the big picture, devastating only a handful of additional fathers. An imprisoned father can’t be bled for money, and due process makes criminal law expensive to the system. The key here is that the terrorists are already giving us all the terror they can, so there isn’t much new to fear.

    In the smaller picture, individuals may suffer exquisite agony for as long as they live under the influence of the new law.

    Erin Pizzey shared a link to this post on Facebook, and a very valuable discussion developed there.

    Like

  10. Anne O Regan · December 15, 2014

    This seems personal and not very becoming of an organisation who is working for a common purpose.

    Like

    • karenwoodall · December 15, 2014

      the personal is political Anne and if you feel this what we are doing is the same thing as FNF in Wales the I am afraid you are very wrong indeed, what we are doing and what is being done in Wales is just NOT the same, I am afraid you are very much mistaken in your beliefs, whether that is becoming or not is not really something I am interested in as it does not further the issue it simply tries to silence debate.

      Like

    • padrestevie · December 15, 2014

      Hi Anne,

      I have a great deal of respect for you and everything you have done. You are without doubt one of the nicest and most caring people it has been my pleasure to meet. You are also one of the most sincere. I must answer a few points you’ve made.

      Firstly though I need to provide a few links:

      http://www.leightonandrews.com/

      (For anyone that does not know who Leighton Andrews is, he is the Labour Welsh Assembly Member for the Rhondda and he actively promotes Welsh Womens Aid.)

      Here is a link to the EVAW backing from Nicky Morgan MP:

      http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/news/172/education-secretary-nicky-morgan-backs-new-evaw-schools-factsheet-on-vawg

      Here is a link to the Factsheet and “accurate” information sources they refer to:

      http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/data/files/Factsheet_on_VAWG_for_Schools.pdf

      Karens excellent response is in this blog (08-07-14)

      (N.B “accurate” here is a euphemism for gynocentric.)

      Here is a link to an article in which Yvette Cooper preaches her support for the indoctrination of young lads:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2761674/Labour-s-school-lessons-beat-abuse-Shadow-Home-Secretary-says-children-receive-compulsory-relationship-education-prevent-violence-against-women.html

      Karen’s excellent response (27-09-14) is in this blog.

      Anne, you spoke about your fears for the education of our children and Leighton Andrew’s deliberating. You will note that Nicky Morgan actually gave her support to the EVAW factsheet being circulated to schools in September. So while Leighton Andrews ponders the bill and reviews pilot schemes, IT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. And, I’d be very surprised if he did not know that. It’s yet another example of a fait acomplis by a very well resourced, organised, political, tenacious and resourceful set of organisations. I believe this initiative actually started life as a briefing note to an MOJ committee, but they’ve seen an opening and gone for it.

      However, like all good fanatics they are quick off the mark and they’ve turned to the Jesuit maxim of St. Francis Xavier i.e “Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man”. I guess this works pretty well for moulding women too. This may seem a little irrelevant but it’s an illustration of how slick and streetwise these people are. If you blink they’ll have your eyes. Once they’ve had those they’ll be back for the sockets.

      I gather that the deliberations for the bill before the WAG began around 2009. In other words there have been at least 5 years to formulate a cogent position or make agreements with “partner” organisations. Where are they? If there is a reciprocal arrangement then where are the heads of terms or the written agreements? These are fundamental necessities. Without them you have bought worthless froth and snake oil.

      I cannot accept that we are now in the unhappy situation of having to accept anything. Five years is ample time to have sorted out the basics and got this right. Under the circumstance, such a garbled and incoherent response is unacceptable.

      Next year we will be celebrating the 800th birthday of Magna Carta. Nonetheless, it took a mere 783 years before the Human Rights Bill was enacted in 1998. If instead of squeezing concessions from King John the people had taken a backward step then do you think that we would have got the human rights act sooner or later? Also, bear in mind that we may loose the HRA next year so where will that leave us? (The short answer is up a certain creek without a paddle.)

      I know you are a fervent trade unionist so I’ll frame a similar question. Have workers won concessions to basic human decency by defending their rights or entrusting them to someone else to look after until another day?

      I’m sorry to say that we have all been badly let down and you are shooting the messengers.

      Like

      • Anne O Regan · December 16, 2014

        The messengers ?

        Like

      • karenwoodall · December 16, 2014

        I think Padre Stevie might be referring to those of us who view what has happened in Wales with grave concern.

        Like

  11. Kat · December 15, 2014

    I think that keeping the issue of ending violence against women separate from ending violence against men is damaging to both men and women. If you look at e.g. the Duluth model it does not address underlying psychological problems i.e. the presumption is that violence is some ALL men are capable of and ending violence against women is dependent on ALL men taking responsibility for their violence. There are plenty of other examples of this presumption of collective guilt of all men (#yesallmen and heforshe spring to mind).

    A presumption of collective guilt of all men is obviously harming men as they are not taken serious when they are the victim. It is also damaging to male perpetrators because it is not acknowledging their underlying problems so help is not efficient. However, I strongly believe it is damaging to women too: To the female perpetrators as they are denied any help, but also to the very women who were portrayed in last week’s Panorama program on domestic violence. Each of them a victim to the very psychologically damaged men that are not recognized as perpetrators. No wonder these women are not always believed, their situation simply does not fit the “violence against women is something all men can do”. When all women are victims we fail to see the real victims. Their experience is so extreme that it falls outside our everyday experiences of men and the feminist models do not allow for that scenario.

    Conveniently these women then make perfect advertising for the feminist organizations who claim that violence against women is not taken serious enough. They can cynically claim that we need more measures to deal with violence against women, failing to realize that the very idea that violence is gendered rather than based in psychological traits/damage is what failed these women in the first place.

    The idea that any good will come from separating the issues ending violence against women from ending violence against men thus seems very counter productive to me.

    Like

  12. Al Mc · January 10, 2015

    Thanks for this debate which I have read with interest and in stark reality of my own situation and plight. The family courts are so canted in favour of the mother that such false allegations have to be defended from the stand point of guilt on my, as the Father’s, part. The mother continues to breach orders for contact which is just ignored by all agencies (CAFCASS & Childrens Services) which is coercive control and abusive behaviour to all. Still, the courts go and instil this manifestation and magnify the ramifications yet further on the kchildren in leaving me as dad to pay for a house the mother has not enough means or willing to indemnify me from. I am used as her cash cow such that the law has commuted any providence from myself as equal on a Child Arrangement Order (shared time) to the mother. Incredible, she’s in clover due to courts not accepting financial servitude, mental control & alienation. The ramifications of this ignorance of alienation and coercion is to effect the kids for years to come.
    The read of this threat has been of some comfort to me, whilst consumed by despair.

    Like

  13. Marketing Linda Turner · January 27, 2015

    Reblogged this on PARENTS HEALING FROM ESTRANGEMENT and commented:
    What do you do if you are denied any contact details? Address, phone number, email, facebook etc?

    Like

  14. daveyone1 · January 28, 2015

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

    Like

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