That's it! I've had it! I've had just about enough of the fact that we don't seem to be able to use facts properly!
On Tuesday, the Crown Prosecution Service released their annual 'Violence Against Women and Girls Crime Report' for 2015-16 and for the first time ever, they revealed something that some of us already know but many didn't realise... the data includes violence against men and boys.
For the first time, this year the report explicitly states that the report is "Inclusive of Data on Men and Boys". Admittedly, its in tiny thin white letters on the front cover and then there's reference to it in a paragraph written by the DPP herself, Alison Saunders, foreword.
This is a real step forward and was expected based on her statement in the Guardian in July 2015 which was in response to an open letter in the same publication my organistion, Survivors Manchester, was part of.
Of course I admit, I was disappointed that this was really the only mention of it but it's something and when you're a male survivor of sexual abuse and rape, it can feel like these small steps in public recognition are huge victories. So when the CPS press release landed on the news desks of the mainstream media and the articles and features began to come out I remember how short lived this feeling of victory is.
The headlines told readers of the "Violent crimes against women are at an all-time high" and opinion pieces described how "I'm sick of living in a culture that tolerates violence against women".
If you haven't already noticed, I'm a man and I too am sick of living in a culture that appears to tolerate violence against women. I'm furious that an apparent lack of money is resulting in women's refuges and safe houses are being closed putting women and children at enormous risk. I am livid that young girls are being sexually exploited to meet the needs of adults!
But you know what else I'm furious about? The fact that boys and men have been whitewashed out of practically all of the press reporting on this issue, and do you know whose fault that is (apart from the journalists writing the pieces), the authorities publishing the reports.
I'm angry at the CPS and other statutory agencies of the complete lack of understanding of the detrimental impact on boys and men of labelling their experiences of rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, violence against women and girls.
I am a man, not a woman or girl, a man who was sexually abused and raped by a man and have many times felt less of a man because of what happened. I do not want to be categorised as a woman or girl, I want to be seen as the man that I am! So why cant you do that for me? Why can't you tell me how many men like me have been through what I've been through because I want to remember I'm not the only one. Every time I want to talk about sexual violation against boys and men, I feel like I have to say something about this doesn't mean I'm ignoring women and girls. Why do I feel like I have to do that, this isn't a competition for goodness sake.
Labelling sexual abuse, rape, sexual exploitation, domestic violence, prostitution, and forced marriage as 'violence against women and girls' is not only factually incorrect but also it silences the boys and men from ever stepping out of their darkness. It tells journalists and the public alike this is an issue affecting women and girls and nothing else. It creates tension between those organisations supporting women and girls, and those supporting men and boys. It puts those of us support males at a disadvantage in the funding race as we don't have the nationally recognised data to prove a need.
It makes healing even more difficult, as if it isn't tough enough.
From Owen Jones Guardian piece, to social media's meltdown on the dissemination of data, write this heartfelt plea... GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT because your 'accidentally' ignoring male victims and that's unacceptable.