The discipline of victimology emerged to address the perceived exclusion of the ‘voice’ or views of victims of crime from criminological research. However, victimology research has also appeared to focus on specific victim populations with less attention to others. In particular, there has been an emphasis on the experiences of female victims of violence, often to the exclusion of male victims. Yet crime and victimisation statistics have consistently demonstrated that it is men, not women, who are more at risk of experiencing violence in Australia (excluding domestic violence, kidnapping and sexual assault where females are more likely to be the victim).
The paucity of male-focused victimology research undertaken in Australia and internationally means it is currently unclear what the support needs of male victims are and if these support needs are being met by the currently available support services, programs and schemes. In this report, findings are presented from a study commissioned by the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice Victims Services that sought to address this knowledge gap by exploring the experiences and support needs of male victims of violence (excluding sexual assault and domestic violence) living in New South Wales. The study involved a comprehensive review of the currently available literature and interviews and focus groups with criminal justice and support service representatives who have contact with male victims of violence as part of their everyday work.
While the focus of the research was not to understand men’s experience of victimisation, there was a view among stakeholders that men often experience feelings of shame as a result of the offence, or at the other end of the spectrum, perceive their victimisation as a ‘rite of passage’. Stakeholders also noted that, at time of interview, male victims of violence generally comprised a much smaller proportion of formal support agencies caseloads and there was no support service operating in New South Wales that specifically targeted male victims of crime (with the exception of MensLine). Many of the stakeholders found it difficult to articulate how a male-specific service would differ from the programs and schemes already available in New South Wales, although it was highlighted that such a service would provide clients with the option of working with male support workers and may deliver emotional support through structured activities. While there are a range of barriers that minimise the accessibility of some services to male victims, there was a general consensus that male victims of violence were not prioritised by formal support services unless they presented with high levels of emotional distress.
The study described in this report is one of the first of its kind conducted in Australia and highlights a number of issues relating to the accessibility and appropriateness of the support services currently available in Australia to male victims of violence. However, to better understand the impact of the offence on male victims, why some men choose to engage with formal support services and others do not and the experiences of those men who do engage with these services, the views of male victims themselves need to be sought. The Australian Institute of Criminology has developed a comprehensive methodology to elicit the views of male victims of violence and hopes to explore these issues with male victims in a proposed second phase of this research.