Tuesday, August 4, 2009


As a man, the subject of men abusing women makes my blood boil. That's why I would never consider myself a suitable candidate for a worker at a woman's refuge. People who work with battered/abused women need both to analyse the situation at hand as dispassionately as is possible, and avoid crossing the line that separates helper from "rescuer".

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.

They will be helped by an "outreach service" which aims to keep more people in their own 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?

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.

"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"
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?


  1. Not quite sure I understand. Wouldn't there be separate (wholly separate) areas for men and women, if a single agency did both? Our local Catholic Worker house has separate buildings for men and women (includes abused women), with the women's house surrounded by barbed wire and steel doors that, unless a Worker is present, aren't opened for visitors.

  2. What riled me is the politically correct diversity agenda being applied without any reference to how things happen in the real world. My interpretation is that the existing shelter is being closed down because it doesn't admit battered men in the building as it exists.

    Another example of this agenda is that radical socialist feminist Harriet Harman, standing in for Gordon Brown for a week, has spent so much time advancing statements like women tend to run things better than men, Lehman Brothers wouldn't have run into problems if it were Lehman Sisters, etc. She may well be right, but she spent so much time on this that, in the real world, proposals to raise the number of successful prosecutions for rape have had to be put on the back-burner.

  3. Re Ms. Harman's comments: Women are people, too. We screw up, just like other people. Do we really have to make everyone else put us on a pedestal? Because I don't really like being on one.

  4. Actually the one person in my life who is on a pedestal is my wife - sometimes she complains about it, for the reasons you state!

    Your local shelter sounds interesting.

  5. They are famous - started by Dorothy Day's followers.

  6. I've heard a lot of good things about her. I'd love to have met her.


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