Violence Against Men

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:23 pm on 10th June 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat 3:23 pm, 10th June 2010

We do, unfortunately, Johann.

Petitioners have come forward to ask MSPs to lend a hand in standing up for the victims of domestic abuse. That means all victims of domestic abuse and not just some. I have had both men and women victims of domestic abuse in tears in my advice surgeries, each with their terrible problems, asking for help. Across the benches in the Parliament, we are all aware of the problems that are associated with men's violence against women, but some are unaware of or choose to ignore the problems of women's violence against men. That has held up any practical help for victims.

The victims of women's violence against men seem to have to face an added burden. They are often disbelieved when they come forward. They face an extra problem because of the stigma that is attached to the issue. Male victims have told me that, when they summoned up the courage to call the police, because of assumptions that were made the police automatically arrested them. Imagine that— the victim was arrested. That added further insult to the real injury to the person who called for help. We need to change those perceptions. Would it not be helpful to all the male victims of domestic abuse to see even one advert on television in which their situation was depicted? I ask the minister to consider that.

After 11 years of asking, I am delighted with the appointment of Alex Neil as the responsible minister. We now have someone who is committed to addressing the issue. Whatever the political differences between us—there are many—I take the opportunity to commend Alex Neil for his courage and his commitment in coming to the aid of all victims of domestic abuse, whether male or female.

I hope that we will all see the evil of domestic abuse for what it is—an evil that is perpetrated on the weaker member of a relationship. It is not a gender issue. If we treat it as such, no progress will be made in tackling its true evil. Members should not continue with the mistake of saying that it is simply a gender issue. It is about the abuse of one person in a relationship by their partner. Once we recognise that, we might at last get on the right track and have a chance of helping all those victims who really do need our help.