During several years of physical, financial, emotional and psychological abuse, I was targeted at work by my abuser, which resulted in a nervous breakdown. As a result of my experiences, I launched Domestic Abuse Business Support Ltd (DABS), to help to support and protect employees, (regardless of gender, ability, sexuality, ethnicity or social and workplace position) and the businesses that they work for, against the very real threat, of domestic abuse in the workplace.
I give talks on the subject of domestic abuse against men and domestic abuse in the workplace, as well as running the DABS workplace training courses and assisting companies to implement robust domestic abuse policies.
My talks have been delivered to representatives of domestic abuse frontline agencies, Councils, The Army, Navy, Royal Air Force and Marines, the Police, Ministry of Defence and the U. K’s National Health Service. My story has also been featured in a number of national and internationally distributed newspapers and magazines.
I am available nationally and internationally, for conference speeches, business consultation and support, and media interviews.
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At DABS and the Bridging the Gap Project, we are committed to challenging the gendered language being used in many areas of global society, when discussing domestic abuse.
Currently, domestic abuse is seen by the majority of world Governments, charities and other national and international organisations, as an issue that exclusively affects women and girls. Male victims, (gay, straight, bisexual and transgender) may get a brief mention at some point during debates but their experiences are often immediately minimised, with comments and phrases such as:
- “Women comprise the “overwhelming” majority of domestic abuse victims”
- “Relatively small numbers of men”
- “Men experience abuse to a lesser degree”
- Or worse, men are only mentioned when discussing the need for perpetrator programmes
In the U.K. (and I’m sure, many other countries), these comments are factually incorrect and are based only on prejudice and discrimination. We are finding that the majority of domestic abuse discussions today, are gynocentric, with gamma bias, in favour of women, playing a pivotal role.
In the year ending March 2019, 1.6 million women and a substantial 786,000 men, were recorded victims of domestic abuse in the U.K. The number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher and each person will have been a victim to multiple ongoing incidents.
- Did you know that in the U.K. men are widely recognised, as being three times less likely than women, to report their abuse? Source, Mankind Initiative
- Did you know that there are no refuge spaces for men in London? Source, ONS
Each time a Government Minister of any country, talks about domestic abuse because a new campaign is being launched, a new law introduced, or another media article published, they have the opportunity to reach out and offer hope to all victims. But when they talk about domestic abuse as an issue that only affects women and girls, it sends out a very loud and clear message to male victims and their children, that they’re invisible and that nobody cares about them. Further increasing their feeling of isolation and despair and pushing them further into the arms of their abuser.
Language shapes our attitudes, beliefs, values, and understanding of what is truth. Our language is the ‘heart’ of who we are as a person. Language can both isolate us, or bring us closer together.
-A quote by an unknown author.
This is why I have started, “Bridging the Gap,” a global project, aiming to change the written and verbal language that we all use, to discuss domestic abuse. We hope to bring people together, who support the idea, that no Individual sufferer, survivor or perpetrator of domestic abuse, should receive preferential treatment, simply because of their gender.
We believe that all victims, deserve to be equally recognised and supported, regardless of their gender, ability, sexuality, ethnicity, religion or social and workplace position.
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We hope that we can achieve this, by encouraging people like those of you reading today, to support the Bridging the Gap Project, by using gender neutral and inclusive language, that fosters genuine equality and encourages others to do the same. In turn, we hope that over time, this change in language, will help to break down the social stigma and negative gender stereotypes, that surround domestic abuse and result in male victims being discriminated against, by those that should be there to help them.
Let’s be clear, this project favours no gender and is not an attempt to deny the statistics or diminish the experiences of women and girls. We fully support all efforts to protect women and girls, but that should not be to the detriment of male victims.
Unfortunately, there is an all-pervasive suspicion of male victims and an obvious willingness to overlook female, (straight, gay, bisexual or trans) perpetrators. This is lodged deep within the global domestic abuse system, based on some perverse notion, that male victims, by virtue of their masculinity, are unfeeling brutes, incapable of being impacted as seriously as women, by domestic abuse. Male victims and their children are often left feeling criminalised, worthless, belittled, powerless and irrelevant.
Equally, female perpetrators are being let down, by Governments and organisations that fail to recognise them. There have been a number of studies that show that perpetrators are often victims of some form of historical abuse themselves and this was certainly the case with my abuser. However, perpetrator programs for women remain scarce. Therefore, those women perpetrating domestic abuse, can’t get the help that they need and inevitably, move on to abuse other men and their children.
Finally, we are encouraging people not to use the term “domestic violence” and instead, replace it with “domestic abuse”. By using the term “domestic violence” it only reinforces the belief in society, that you are not a victim unless you are being punched, slapped, kicked or grabbed. We need to educate society, that domestic abuse is far more than a punch or a slap and in doing so, I’m sure that we will see, far more men and women, recognising that they are actually in an abusive relationship and coming forward, to get the help that desperately need.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, please reach out and speak to someone you trust.
For more details about the “Bridging the Gap Project” and DABS, click here to visit our website.
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Ten years on, never give up.
— Robert S Wells (@DABSupport) May 17, 2020
About The Author
Robert Wells is former Military Police Officer and security professional. I’m a published author, speaker, domestic abuse survivor and Director at, Domestic Abuse Business Support Ltd (DABS), the home of The “Bridging The Gap Project,” based in Great Britain.
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