MAY PEN, Clarendon - Domestic violence support groups and the police are being urged to offer more support to men who suffer from domestic abuse.
The suggestion was made by Joseph Raphael, a member of the audience at the launch of a domestic violence sensitization programme, Moving Onward from Violence to Empowerment (MOVE) at the May Pen Police Station on Tuesday.
Raphael said there was widespread impression that it is almost always women who struggle with the effects of domestic disputes and as such male victims, particularly those who suffer emotional abuse, are given little or no support.
Men, said Raphael, are more often than not seen as the aggressors.
"It is a battle of the sexes; we have been hearing about it for ages," Raphael said. "Males are more physical so they have been using their feet and hands as weapons, while women have been using words.
"Sometimes women really say some hurtful things, which sow a seed inside the man that grows and bears a very horrible and abusive fruit. We tend to always see men as the aggressors, but we should also look at the fact that women sometimes push men to the brink of violence," he added.
He added: "They (women) need to be told exactly what it is to abuse someone. Let them know that there are different types of abuse so that they can also see when they are guilty of doing it to their partners and start to take some responsibility for their actions," he said.
Dr Walter Leavell, whose organisation, the Clarendon Peace and Justice Centre, is spearheading MOVE, supported the call for cases of domestic abuse involving male victims to be given more attention.
"Although we are working with victims, as far as women are concerned, there are a lot of men who are being abused," he said.
"A lot of perpetrators are out there and I would like to see at some point in time the Clarendon Peace and Justice Centre, also other agencies, direct and more attention towards the perpetrators; they also need counselling," added Dr Leavell, a certified domestic violence counsellor in the United States.
Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Manchester, Clarendon and St Elizabeth, Derrick Cochrane, who was a guest at the launch, agreed that generally female victims tend to get more support from the public in domestic dispute cases, but assured the audience that the police treat cases involving male victims with equal importance.
"I want to make it clear that there is absolutely no bias in reporting domestic abuse to the police. We have had numerous calls from men asking for help and we have responded accordingly," he said.
Cochrane, in the meantime, renewed calls for the public to report cases of domestic abuse, irrespective of the victim's gender, to the police.