Transcript of interview with Kate Russell and Paul aka MahdDogg

This transcript is a companion piece to “Government guidelines leave male abuse victims out in the cold”.

Normal: SPB

Bold: Mahddogg

Italic: Kate Russell

 

Right, for both of you then: In your own words what is the aim of your campaign?

For me it’s about justice, pure and simple. Once we started looking into the overwhelmingly gender biased portrayal of domestic abuse victim support material and awareness campaigning by UK police authorities we followed the breadcrumb back to the source: the Home Office statutory guidance on coercive control, issued in December 2015 to support the new law… That guidance, as written, expressly advises gender bias against men… it’s unlawful, it’s wrong, and it’s morally corrupt

For me, it’s to get to the heart of why there is gender bias in the treatment of Domestic Abuse victims, which I think we have identified, and address it head on. Domestic Violence is a massively underreported crime yet the Home Office is issuing guidance to the police that is based upon CPS prosecution statistics, and is not representative of the entire breadth and diversity of victims, male, female, gay or bi or trans. It’s ignoring and therefore not targeting these groups. The guidance must be changed so that policing and investigation of Domestic Abuse and coercive/controlling behaviour is gender and sexuality blind.

100% of the authorities who have responded to my question about whether they use that document to inform policy making in policing domestic abuse, stated in writing they do use it as guidance

I know from my experience that there is a stigma amongst male victims in particular. Guidance of this kind is what keeps us from reporting our abuse. Because it seems like the authorities don’t care.

yes.. and men don’t report it because this stigma tells them they won’t be believed, and might lose access to their kids, or face arrest themselves. No wonder they don’t report it

That last one is at the forefront of every man’s mind when we’re under attack too. It’s why we don’t defend ourselves

So this becomes not only about getting the government to change guidance appropriately, and authorities to adjust accordingly, but also to affect a massive change in culture as well.

Absolutely. If the home office admit they were wrong then we can use that as a springboard to start asking police authorites and the care services to review their policies and offer real support to ALL victims

That’s the hope, just this one step isn’t going to be enough to effect a full on shift in culture, but this one step will be massive in it’s impact on victims of domestic abuse and violence. All it takes is for Theresa May and the Home Office to change 3 paragraphs to reflect the reality.

It’s also about changing the perception of male victims about what is happening to them.. if they see posters expressing male victims then maybe they will feel more confident to take action and save themselves and their kids. And if female abusers see these poster maybe it will make them wake up to the reality of what they are doing

While no one wants to admit they are a victim, understanding that you are can help you make the moves you need to get help and get safe.

Every journey begins with a single step. In this case that step is rewriting 3 paragraphs

That’s all. Right there, and will change so much.

Theresa may can do that, on her own, in her office, in about 10 minutes. And the document as written is UNLAWFUL, by the government’s own definition

We’ve done the research to back up the change; it’s in breach of The Equality Act. I’ve been reading a lot of acts.

If we were discussing a minority here, people would be up in arms about the under reporting of the crime, and would launch a media campaign to make them more aware. But it’s men… half the population. So that aspect just doesn’t get spoken about. Instead we launch campaigns to encourage more women to come forward.

That’s the bias that results in documents like the Guidance. Where we can see from the Violence Against Women Report from the CPS shows that 84% of their reports come from women. Women ARE reporting, more should too, of course. Women are already responding to the last 30 years of work done by domestic violence campaigning and services.

There is a blatant hypocrisy here. Have you received any backing from any help groups or charities that deal with domestic abuse?

There have been a number of small groups who have been in contact with Kate and I throughout the campaign and back before we even started.

Lots of small charities and support groups are helping push the petition, and if you read the comments you will see dozens and dozens of personal accounts from abused men who have not reported their abuse. But the mainstream organisations supporting domestic abuse victims all suffer the same bias, and all refer to the statutory guidance when questioned. Having the guidance changed would take away that place the hide and make the well-funded organisations have to stand up and be counted.

Having seen the posters, would you also say that as well as discriminating against men, it is also on the side of being racist and homophobic?

Not racist or homophobic no. Those are proactive discriminations. What we’re dealing with here is lack of support and omission of the true statistics. It’s not a wilful discrimination, but equally corrosive to the victims who are not represented.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it homophobic, that’s heading into hate crime territory, however it definitely does exclude Gay and Bi relationships as all seem to depict heterosexual relationships. As to race, I wouldn’t say so. A lot of campaigns do have a good balance of ethnicities represented.

Agreed on the ethnicities fact, but that goes back to my point about minority representation. It’s very ‘fashionable’ to support minorities. “Fashionable” is perhaps trivialising that point too much.. but you get my drift I hope.

I can’t say it better than that. It’s certainly something that is proactively addressed. However there is one “-ist” that hasn’t been mentioned: sexist. [Are these campaigns] sexist?”

And instead of responding to newspaper polls where the public overwhelmingly agree the campaigns are sexist, some public servants instead vote brigade their cronies to swing the poll results back the other way. While being paid a salary by public money, half of which comes from the pockets of men.

Then claim to be victims of an “Orchestrated Campaign” against the police.

It occurs to me that even if we get the guidance changed, these biased approaches will still exist, but with the guidance document changed to express the gender/sexuality neutral status of the crime it will take away their place to hide when challenged. That has to be a positive thing for everyone.

Just out of interest what kind of media exposure have you had so far?

We had an interview on BBC 3 Counties radio which kind of kicked it all off and gave us the idea to target the guidance document

That was an hour of radio time on this subject. A good start too. We’ve been pushing everything so far through social networks; even through there, we’re getting a good feel as to public response. It has been overwhelmingly positive. I’m sitting here with the petition page open watching the numbers go up. That’s a heartening thing to see.

Less heartening are the dozens and dozens of stories from abuse victims who feel they don’t have a voice.

Is the petition just for May, or is it requesting a debate in Parliament?

Just May. She has the power to change it It is fully within the home secretary’s power to change the guidance as laid out in Section 77 of the Serious Crime Act 2015. The simple facts are, the document as it stands is unlawful by the government’s own definition, and Theresa May can put that right in less than an hours work probably. She has yet to reply to repeated emails and tweets to the Home Office account though. So much for ‘public servant’.

Refusing to do so, well, that would send a very clear message to victims of domestic abuse everywhere.

This is not a topic for debate.. there is no debate.. it’s the right and moral thing to do

It just occurred to me that this may well fall under a Human Right issue. Has this been explored aat all?

Hmm… not expressly. This petition is the first step. If we get no joy, we won’t stop. Any person who is sane can see the document is wrong

But if she refuses then it may very well become a human rights issue.

I mean, it uses statistics taken from the Violence against Women and Girls Crime Report 2013-2014 to assert that most victims are women…

And everyone in those statistics reported and it lead to a prosecution.

That’s like going into a brazillain meat BBQ restaurant to assert that most people are meat eaters, or going into a vegan restaurant to assert we’re all vegetarians.

The Office of National Statistics covers unreported crime and includes male victims. Putting them at 33% of all victims of abuse. 33.33% to be precise.

It’s another prime example of the government only using facts that they want to use.

When the government office in charge of national statistics says that the numbers the guidance relies on can’t be used as national statistical data then they have no argument to make.

One of the problems historically in bringing light to this issue is that it is usually argued back and forth between people with extreme ideologies – feminists vs. mens rights activists. It’s the reason we wanted to be clear in the petition that this is not about Men vs. Women. I campaign for gender neutrality and against gender bias in the tech sector. I couldn’t be more moderate politically. And Mahddogg is a victim – WAS a victim.. though it’s a dreadful label to put on someone who has shown such strength of character in raising this issue.

A survivor, and I’d like to see more of us.

We don’t care who you are – if you’re suffering domestic abuse, you deserve to get treated equally.

This is not an issue to use as a political or ideological football. It can affect anyone, from any walk of life. That’s the importance of all of this. The law is good, its application is wrong.

Theresa may needs to understand that this isn’t going away

Guys this is brilliant thank you.

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