09 January 2014

Victim Support

The Australian Institute of Criminology has released a 52 page report [PDF] by Samantha Bricknell, Hayley Boxall and Hannah Andrevski on Male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence: Service needs and experiences in court (Research in Policy and Practice no. 126) funded through Victims of Crime Research Fund administered by Victims Services, NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice.

The AIC indicates that the study, which covers victims living in NSW, is "important because of the paucity of male-focused victimology research undertaken in Australia and internationally".

It involved "a comprehensive review of the currently available literature and interviews with focus groups, and criminal justice and support service representatives who have contact with male victims of violence as part of their everyday work", with the victim population defined as adult males (aged 18 years and over) who had experienced some form of non-sexual/non-domestic violence (eg aggravated or non-aggravated physical assault, armed robbery or stalking).

The focus was to explore the -
  • availability and appropriateness of support services in NSW for male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence; 
  • perceived barriers for male victims in accessing support services; and 
  • impact of participating in the court process on these victims. 
The research findings suggest, unsurprisingly, that violent offences and participating in the trials of perpetrators "can have a significant impact on male victims".
While many male victims of violence will obtain the support they require from informal sources, some would benefit from engaging with formal services. 
At time of writing, victim support services in NSW had some capacity to assist male victims of violence, particularly when they were participating in court proceedings. However, a range of barriers such as feeling ashamed of the victimisation and being seen as ‘weak’ and unmasculine, or just lack of knowledge about the availability and accessibility of support services, influenced whether a male victim engaged with formal support services. 
This was exacerbated by lack of recognition within the criminal justice that male victims of non-sexual violence may require assistance or even meet eligibility criteria for support services. Some male victims may choose not to engage with services if they were not seen as appropriate or meeting their needs.