And have in the past been known to share my life with other angry men I have a deep understanding of the contradiction that is our societies solution to the battered and abused women issue.
We have gone to such great lengths to provide hidden shelters, counselling and financial assistance to the multitude of women out there who have found themselves in a situation that may endanger the safety and security of both them and their children; a movement I wholeheartedly applaud and support.
It confuses me however, that with so much evidence pointing in the direction of there being a serious problem within our society regarding anger and control issues that we have done almost nothing to provide the same support for men that we are so willing and able to provide for women.
As far as I can see, we have only provided a band aid solution and have not taken the time to seek out the solutions to the root cause of these troubles. Now this is not to say that the women’s shelters are not needed, indeed they are and will continue to be unless something is done about the men who batter and abuse. However, it seems to me that waiting until the man lashes out and physically harms a woman or a child and then treating him while he is paying his debt to society while sitting in a jail cell is just not an efficient way to solve the problem.
Again, I have to point out that it is not only men who do the abusing, and I am certainly not trying to imply that women are not equally capable of violence; I am making the observation that services are available for women, free and supported both by government and independent organizations. What about the men? What is available for them?
There are free drug programmes... There are free alcohol programmes... and if you go to jail for more than two years in Canada, there are free counselling and anger management programmes available for the inmates... wonderful...
So we wait it seems, for the men to suffer a break down and commit a crime that is serious enough to land them in federal prison, or for them to become dependent on a substance that helps to ease the weight of whatever burden they are carrying. It is only once they have hit bottom, and lost the trust and support of their family and friends through desperate action that we the people offer to help them turn their lives around. It is an unjust and unbalanced system and it is a system that needs to be changed.
Now many would argue that there is a social stigma that disallows men to reach out for help, that their male ego, fearful of admitting weakness may get in the way. I argue that we provide hidden centres for women so that they may remove themselves from society for however long it takes them to heal. Many women who have been victims of abuse, rape and other violent crimes have found their way to safe havens, where they can rebuild their lives away from the prying and often judgemental eyes of the public. Why can we not provide the same for men?
Others may argue that abusers are not aware of their anger issues, that they do not know that they need help and not knowing means that they will not willingly seek out the help that they need. I argue that this is just not so. That any man who has hit a child or a woman knows he has done wrong, he knows that he has hurt somebody he loves and he knows also that the feelings of guilt that come after the act of rage are not feelings he would like to continue to feel. What he does not know is how to stop...
So then you say, but there are so many counselling programmes out there, and so many independent Dr’s who provide counselling services, why do we need more. The problem is not a lack of services, the problem is a lack of FREE or government subsidized services. The problem is that it can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars to sign up for and attend some of the programmes available to men. Anger management does not come cheap and in today’s troubled financial times as the burden on men to provide for their families becomes heavier the need to provide them with a way to deal with their growing frustration becomes more desperate.
I simply cannot condone a system that continues to treat the symptoms and does nothing to find a cure for the disease; it is like treating the pain of a broken bone and doing nothing to re-align the bone so that it may heal. So how do we build a splint that will help the bone to knit?
The problem to me seems overwhelming and I am at a loss as to where to start except to say that thinking about the problem and recognizing that there is indeed a problem to begin with is a sure fire way to begin the journey that ends in finding a solution. So today I am thinking about the problem, and realizing that it is there and that it needs to be addressed and hoping against hope that the right people will come along to help to build a system that provides the same support to the men in our lives that has been thanks to the tireless efforts of so many been providing for us women in the past.
Niki Norlock, author of Truth - My Synchromystic Journey