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5.4.5 - Responding to men who claim to be victims of family violence

While men can be victims of family violence, men are more likely to be harmed by a stranger than by a family member. Quantitative research clearly indicates that the majority of incidents are perpetrated by men against women and their children.

The following sections look at things judicial officers should bear in mind, and some of the questions they can ask, when assessing a situation in which a man claims to be a victim of family violence.

Incidence of abuse towards men

The research evidence and experience of family violence professionals unambiguously demonstrates that relatively few men in heterosexual relationships are solely victims of intimate partner violence. The majority of women who use some form of violence towards their partner have been subjected to (worse) violence by that man before, or on the same occasion.

Often, men who are genuinely victims of family violence experience the violence from a same sex partner, carer or a male relative.

Men who are the principle users of family violence often try to present as a victim or the victim of violence. Sometimes they succeed in convincing themselves, police and others. This is because:

It is important to remember that people experiencing fear or terror will sometimes make bad decisions, which might add to their portrayal as being ‘hysterical’ or ‘out of control’. Women, if they feel safe enough, may undertake small acts of retaliation, which can be construed as ‘evidence’ of a pattern of violence on their part.

Establishing whether a man is a victim

There are a number of questions a judicial officer can consider asking when a man presents as an affected family member (even in a police application), including:

In addition to responses to the questions above, judicial officers might also wish to consider the following questions and issues:

If in any doubt about whether the man is the victim (or the sole victim), judicial officers can refer the man to the Men’s Referral Service who can assess the situation further and make appropriate referrals (note that the Men’s Referral Service will not provide reports to the Court).

Men who are victims

Men who are genuinely victims of violence from female partners or other family members (e.g. adolescent or adult children) might be assisted by:

Last updated: 21 March 2011

See Also

5.4 - Men

5.4.1 - Men’s use of violence towards family members

5.4.2 - Men’s behaviour change programs - the preferred approach

5.4.3 - Unhelpful and unsafe approaches to men’s use of family violence

5.4.4 - Judicial responses

5.4.6 - Responding to men in same sex relationships