WITH A family violence series of articles, like the NZ Herald's this week, the inevitable complaint usually comes up: what about women who abuse men?
It's a valid question to ask, because it certainly happens. There will be men who take out restraining orders against their partners. There are men who have the bruises, the tears, the fear.
For those who have this complaint, I urge them to read the Herald's story "I didn't think about it as domestic abuse", which is a male's story on being physically assaulted by his wife.
Yesterday morning I got the phone call from someone arguing that the system was stacked in favour of women. His son had been abused for years by his partner, and authorities could not help. What could we do about it?
This touches on the age-old concept of journalism: when all else fails, go to the media. Which is all well and good if someone is prepared to talk. Because there's another axiom of journalism: can we hear it from the horse's mouth.
People often feel the media should investigate systems of bureaucracy, to analyse whether a system is working or is inefficient or failing. But in order to do that, you have to have a victim who has suffered through that system and wants to talk about it.
Without a victim, it's simply an opinion, a point of view. With a victim, you have a first-hand experience, which can be used to confront a bureaucracy.
A victim also has the right to decide whether or not to disclose their story, and, in a situation like family violence, I would certainly prefer that a third party didn't pre-empt them. Every family violence situation has complexities, complications, and emotional turmoil.
From an outsider, if it was laid bare, it would sound matter-of-fact awful, but these situations are deeply personal, and change day to day.
Culturally, it would not be easy for a man to disclose that he suffered because his female partner was violent to him.
For those who might struggle to disclose, every Herald story on family violence this week has a link to "speak up", to enable people to write their own stories, for others to read.
That may be a useful first step to putting your story together -- and seeing how other people react to it.