So my jaw hit the floor today when I read an article in the Telegraph saying that a woman's refuge in Dorset is to close because it doesn't cater for men.
I don't wish to minimise the misery that can be caused when a woman beats a man. I merely wish to make two points:
Firstly, Dorset County Council's website already lists a refuge that will take battered men.
Secondly, there would be fewer abused women if abusive men carried a message stamped on their forehead, or written on a T-shirt, that they were bad news. This is, of course, the same for women, but - at the risk of being interpreted as a sexist - men tend to be bigger, stronger and heavier than women.
I remember a woman's refuge up north where guests would be subjected to an interrogation if they were accompanied by a male to within sight of the shelter, because the staff were only too aware of the manipulative nature of men who are disordered enough to confuse their partner (or partners) with a punchbag.
I don't say "manipulative" lightly. Men who hate women enough to want to hit them can be so persuasive that members of staff in the services with which they make contact have been known to be seduced.
And that's the point. The Telegraph article informs us:
Managers now believe money would be better spent helping domestic violence victims of both sexes to stay in their homes.Any council that values the health, safety and even lives of women in risk from the people they think they love will have an "exit strategy" - ie that a woman who is in fear from her partner should be ready to leave the family home at short notice. But what if there's nowhere to go, or if the "exit strategy" is half-an-hour a week during which laughing-boy can aver his love for his silent spouse?
They will be helped by an "outreach service" which aims to keep more people in their own homes.
Because if a refuge is opened that caters for both men and women that have been battered, two things are certain: firstly, that most residents will be there in good faith; but secondly, that men who are so pathetic that they can only relate to women by abusing them emotionally, financially, physically and/or sexually will target said refuge like a laser-guided missile.
The Revd Brian Ellis, a Dorset County Councillor for the Liberal Democrat Party, has opposed the move in the strongest terms, saying:
The women who use the refuge are there because of what men have done to them and their children.In two decades as a psychiatric nurse I met too many good women beaten beyond the point of sanity. Dear God, when will the people who govern us realise that ideological statements do not release people from misery?
"When people suffer from domestic violence they need an escape route so it's just incredible that this decision has been taken.
"They need an immediate escape and that's what's being taken away"