E = Encouragement

As part of the Acronym for R.E.S.P.E.C.T let’s go to E = Encouragement

There are plenty of knockers in the world. One of the things that Aussies are noted for (and not in a good way) is we are the best at “cutting down the tall poppies”, pulling down anyone who dares to step out of the masses and declare their independence and differences.

In the family violence services and prevention space this appears in two forms. You must comply with the current orthodoxy on how to prevent family violence or you are virulently opposed to the “man haters” and attack! We see both at work on social media (and in mainstream media) and none of it is particularly edifying.

Which is why I am writing “The Real Men Challenge” which is taking a “strength based approach” to the problem of family violence. I don’t have any problem calling I out bad behaviour when I see it or challenge faulty logic or thinking. Correcting someone or offering a counter argument is a long way from the personal abuse and “labelling” that seems to be the primary weapon on social media.

Which is why “Encouragement” should be a central part of RESPECT.

When we deal with victims/survivors of family violence we want to encourage (and another E word, empower) them to make positive decisions to get out of their controlling relationship or to seek help. And stand with them and encourage them on the journey. Words like “you can do this” and “we support you” are so important (especially when they have been robbed of their self worth and confidence).

We also need to encourage friends and family to rally around the victim/survivor as they work it all out and support them.

We need to encourage the community to not give into “family violence fatigue” but instead maintain the determination to keep doing something about it. Hold White Ribbon Fund Raisers, education sessions, use music or art to get the message across.

We also want to encourage everyone to “Stand Up, Speak Out and Act” to prevent family violence.

And finally we want to encourage men.

Encourage men to use their God given positive qualities of courage, strength, justice, determination to call out bad behaviour when they see it. To call out their mates when they are just plain wrong. And for those men who recognise they need to change, to admit they need help and then get the help. We can create a better world by not pulling these men down but lifting them up to attain the higher qualities of manhood.

And, encourage men to be the positive role models to their children, to their families, in their workplaces, in the community.

Men, be a leader of good. People are watching and take notice.


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R = Red Flags

As part of the Acronym for R.E.S.P.E.C.T let’s start at R = Red Flags

At the core of family violence is power and control. There may not be violence present and the perpetrator may present as charming, affable and on the surface “a really nice guy” (or gal). There are no threats, no verbal abuse but under the surface, there is this sinister controlling behaviour at work. Behaviour that is not immediately obvious but the Red Flags are there.

Here is an example from a couple we know. The wife is away with a friend for a weekend end away. On the day they are to return, he uses the smart phone “Find my Phone” feature to track her journey and make sure she is home on time. He calls it “caring”, we call it a “Red Flag”. When my wife is away somewhere I might get a call to say she’s arrived safe or when she is leaving and when she expects to be home. I wouldn’t think about trying to track her journey. After all she is a smart, intelligent and self sufficient woman and a good driver in a safe car.

Here are some more “Red Flags” to think about.

The “Red Flag” of social isolation. Where the controlling partner decides who their partner can see and when.

The “Red Flag” of financial control. Where the controlling partner controls all of the finances.

The “Red Flag” of fear. I will have to ask “Bill” if that’s all right. “Bill” may not like that.

The “Red Flag” of guilt. “It’s your fault”. “You are such an idiot”. “Why do you do that all the time” and so it goes on.

What are some of the “Red Flags” that you have witnessed?

Have you called them out?


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12 Traits of The Man of God

Such a good list. Comments please.

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More conversation on “toxic masculinity”

Unfortunately to the average Aussie male (and males in other countries), the term “toxic masculinity” is heard as “masculinity is toxic”. This failure of communication brings such strident and strong resistance that those of us who are committed to reducing family violence need to rethink how we communicate this important message.

Men, we are with you.

But we are against your attitudes and behaviours that are just plain wrong.

But as we talk about the things that are wrong we also need to talk about the things in men that are good.

“Positive masculinity”

Which is why I am writing a book “Real Men Challenge” and encouraging this conversation … 

What is a good man?

What is positive masculinity?

Happy for your contributions.

(See the original post on FB)


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How “Toxic Masculinity” fails the pub test

A firestorm has erupted over the last week with Gillette releasing an ad which portrays aspects of “toxic masculinity” and then a call to men to do better. In the same week, the American Psychology Assoication (APA) released a comprehensive report on the mental health of men and in it attacked “Toxic Masculinity”.

The argument after that on social media but also in main stream media fell into two distinct and opposing camps. Those that applauded the Ad and the report for shining the light on “Toxic masculinity” and telling men to get over it and in the other group who saw this as an attack on men as a group and especially the “good men” who treat women with utmost respect and are unfairly tarnished by the “toxic masculinity” brush.

As a White Ribbon Ambassador I talk to school groups, adolescent boys, fathers, sports groups and women. I completely understand the issue that family violence is a “man’s problem” as the primary perpetrators of extreme violence are men which includes murder (one woman a week is murdered by a man who is their partner or former partner). That “power and control” is at the centre of this cultural and attitudinal problem that man (and women) use in family situations to “control” their partner’s behaviour through a variety of means (psychological, social, financial, spiritual right through to the physical). When asked “what about male victims”, I can articulate the fundamental question back to those who are asking “are they living in fear?”, and most often they are not. For women, who live in a relationship that has family violence present (in all their forms), they do live in fear and need help and support to safely exit that relationship.

Having said all that, after reading articles by various prominent women who have come out on both sides of the argument and the APA report, it is clear that the term “toxic masculinity” fails the pub test. Ordinary Australians (both men & women) hear this this as “maculinity is toxic” and therefore an attack on men as a group and fails to recognise the good in men and the “positive masculinity” that does exist but has been lost in this “toxic conversation”.

I hope that as I continue to write my book ”Real Men Challenge” that those who read this can join in the discussion to clearly state what are those “positive masculinity” traits we approve and applaud in men but also to challenge those “toxic behaviours” in both men and women and call them out.

Posted in Family Violence, Men, Values, White Ribbon Ambassador | 2 Comments