Thousands of Australian Dads affected by separation and divorce have been encouraged to participate in a mass abduction of their children on the 1st of December.
The abduction, being promoted by Australian online group Domestic Violence Against Men, has urged it’s 19,000 members to “grab their kids and run to another state, then report the mother for sexual abuse.”
A follow up post says that the protest will force media attention onto the issue of fathers being wrongfully accused by women and losing access to their children. But there has been a mixed reaction from group members, with some believing the stunt is misguided, selfish and will cause harm to the children. Others believe that a shocking, attention-grabbing stunt is necessary to put the spotlight on suffering men who feel they have nowhere else to turn.
The picture of Domestic Violence in Australia is alarming: Statistics say that Police are called to an incidence of domestic violence every two minutes. And, the statistics also show that women tend to be victims more often than men. But that number is changing.
More men are victims of domestic violence than ever before
Recent figures released by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), show that in fact, the number of domestic violence-related murders in New South Wales has doubled over the past year. The figures suggest that 38 people were killed by those with which they had a domestic relationship in the 12 months to March 2019, up from 19 the previous year.
The most significant increase was seen in male victims of domestic violence homicides.
Whereas women accounted for 15 of the victims, up from 11 the previous year, men made up 14, compared with five the previous year.
Seven victims were children killed by a parent, up from one the previous year, and, it should be noted that the categories extends beyond partners, to include relatives, carers and those who live together but are not in an intimate relationship.
False accusations ruin lives
Two disturbing cases of men falsly accused and prosecuted have made headlines in recent months. The first is the case of Daniel Jones, who’s former fiancé Sarah Jane Parkinson fabricated an intricate a web of lies, including a false diary, a carefully planted condom wrapper, a self-inflicted head injury, a fake knife wound, a staged burglary, all of which led to Daniel Jones spending four months in one of Australia’s toughest prisons.
Despite the fact that Daniels’ innocence was ultimately proven and Parkinson is now serving three years in jail for making false allegations, Daniels’ parents are broke, having had to pay $800,000 in legal bills. Their marriage did not survive the ordeal. Daniel himself almost suicided too. Prosecutors say that Sarah’s motive was that she wanted possession of the home she and Daniel bought together, just weeks before she began her campaign against him.
The second case, involves a Sydney man who cannot be named. He is currently suing the NSW Government for maliciously prosecuting a false rape claim made against him by his then wife. On legal advice, the man had pleaded guilty to two counts of domestic violence — relating to an email and damage to his then wife’s mobile phone (after discovering explicit text messages between her and another man) but the judge dismissed those charges without recording a conviction.
A jury then acquitted the man of rape, domestic violence, assault and other charges in 2017 after Sydney District Court Judge Mark Williams issued a rare Prasad direction, which allows a jury to find a defendant not guilty any time after the close of the Crown in cases where there is insufficient evidence to justify a conviction. However, he spent 32 days in remand, which he says was an “extraordinarily difficult” experience and one which made him contemplate suicide several times.
In both cases, the victims say that Police were heavy handed and deliberate in their pursuit of the alleged perpetrators. And while in these cases, there were no children involved, those who have been through the Family Court system, say that it too, has been known to fail wrongly accused fathers.
Family Law Courts under review
The family law courts do not have an easy task. Child custody cases can be wickedly complex, especially when one or both parents are alleging abuse. And, the impacts of making the wrong decision can be devastating; children may be ordered into the care of an abusive parent, or prohibited from seeing a safe and loving one. They are not easy decisions, and they require great skill and understanding to get right.
The Family Court system is now under review, and it’s hoped that a full investigation of the system will make it more accessible and fairer for all involved, particularly the children, who are the most impacted victims of all.
Beware of the consequences
Men considering participating in the stunt on December 1 need to understand that if they breach family court orders, break the law by taking their children, or make false accusations face the possibility of serious legal consequences.
If you have had false domestic violence claims made against you, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.