We met on April 12th to get the project started. We discussed the different issues encountered by men who may want to seek help for various forms of victimization. The main theme that came out of the conversation is that it is difficult to consider the topic without paying close attention to the lenses we use to view men. Social ideas about gender and victimization are sensitive. We also touched on the social and psychological isolation that happens when we experience violence as men and the need for a safe space to discuss these issues. We are hoping to raise our numbers for the next group discussion. If interested, please contact us.
We met again on May 11th and saw more people interested in the topic. Of note, service providers made up a larger proportion of attendees. The discussion centred on how to raise awareness of male-identified survivors while honouring the work done by feminist and women’s rights groups. The overarching theme of the ideas brought forward was that this space was made possible by those who championed services and supports for women experiencing intimate partner violence. We also focused on the practical details of what services for men may look like. Building identical services for men that we offer women would likely be inappropriate; the systemic issues experienced are not the same. We also started brainstorming about sustainable and cost-effective ways to offer support for men. The common issue that comes up when men discuss violence is that it can be triggering or even traumatizing when one discloses to a service provider or loved one and the experience of victimization is dismissed. On this note, we felt that perhaps a dedicated answering service and outreach worker would be a reasonable first step toward offering services for male victims. This could be a way to provide counselling specifically for men in a way that is safe, inclusive, and respectful of other services. We are planning to develop a draft of a paper resource for distribution and get feedback at our next meeting.
We saw some new faces at our meeting on June 15. We continued to discuss how the issue of male-identified victims can be explored without taking space away from the discourse of violence against women. We felt that being explicit about our intentions is a reasonable approach. The discussion went deeper into the idea that there is resistance to acknowledging male victimization. This may be in part due to the harms caused by some of the behaviours that we feel stem from it. The discussion also requires careful consideration of political and social interests. We do have to respect and honour the various positions people come from when exploring the topic. We finished the afternoon with a review of the print resource we are preparing for distribution after the project is complete. Our plan is to get some feedback from other service providers in the community before we finalize the resource. There is one meeting left and we also plan to organize a public panel or presentation on the topic.
Our final meeting was on July 12. We took the time to discuss the development of the project and revisit the various themes discussed. Feedback was sought on a second draft of the print resource we are producing. This resource will be complete shortly and distributed to our networks and community members. The common thread in all our discussions was that the language and ideas we bring to this topic must be carefully considered so that we find a healthy space within the larger communities we live and work in. We know that males can be victimized in numerous ways by perpetrators of all genders. We also know that their experiences differ from those of systemically oppressed groups. We also spent some time working out the practical details of offering services within the current set of resources at the practice. We decided that presently we could offer men who are experiencing Intimate Partner Violence supportive counselling and case management through the Halifax Pro-Bono Counselling Clinic. We hope that this project will begin to raise awareness of the issue and that male survivors will find the help they need.