BATTERED BY THE GENTLER SEX; Support Network for Abused Men Gets Thousands of Calls - but Little Government Cash
Byline: TOM PRENDEVILLE
A LEADING campaigner against domestic violence claims the government had DITCHED a report which said men were just as likely to be victims as women.
Mary Cleary says the Department of Health took the shock decision because it's afraid of upsetting the feminist movement.
The tough-talking battler came forward to denounce the official silent treatment of male victims of domestic violence in the home.
Since she set up AMEN over five years ago, her voluntary organisation has received more than 25,000 desperate calls from battered men who were living with violent women.
"I stopped counting the numbers long ago, but we have seen everything from cuts, scratches, bruises, scalding and stabbings to broken bones," she told us.
"I have even seen unfortunate men who were so badly injured that they ended up on life support machines."
As an Accident & Emergency nurse, Navan-based Mary was well-placed to witness the scale of the hidden tragedy.
So much so, that five years ago she decided to do something to highlight the forgotten male victims of domestic violence.
"Every day I still pick up the papers and read about the number of battered wives and it sounded like every woman in the country was being beaten up.
"And that's simply not true. Most of it is hysteria whipped up by vested interest groups."
And Mary Cleary ought to know, having worked both in shelters caring for battered wives and as a frontline casualty nurse.
She claims domestic violence has now become a national industry worth more than EUR100 million a year in Government, EU and charity funding.
And she claims that's money which is largely wasted on legions of highly paid consultants and administrators who work out of plush offices.
Yet Mary Cleary's organisation has to get by on virtually crumbs - a miserly EUR20,000 a year to be precise:
"When women end up going to a refuge it's not free - they have to pay for a bed every night.
"Organisations cashing in on their plight now constitutes the fastest growing industry in the western World," she says.
The Justice Department which has responsibility for equality. has just granted EUR122,000 to a new quango called the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency.
Amazingly, representatives of male victims have been totally excluded.
She added that the same situation existed in Britain where a new Domestic Violence Register was being set up - but it will include only the names of men who have attacked women.
According to Mary Cleary only feminist agenda-driven agencies need apply for funding in Ireland.
"How a Government Department with responsibility for equality can justify giving EUR122,000 to this body beggars belief."
The Department of Health allocated EUR12 million this year for the provision of services for women who find themselves victims of domestic violence.
Yet in contrast, male victims in a similar predicament received only EUR20,000 - 600 times less.
Mary points out that the same cash strapped Health Department managed to find another EUR322,000 to give to the "sexist domestic violence industry".
"I call it the Department of Injustice and Inequality. They provide endless funds for women's groups but nothing for men in a similar position."
Amazingly, Department of Health research which was released discreetly but never publicised, revealed that men were every bit as likely to be victims of domestic violence as women.
A spokesman for the department said the report was only released on the internet.
He said the report, entitled Men and Domestic Violence: What Research Tells Us, was an in-house document.
"It was to see how health boards could approach the issue," he said. …