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General Discussions / One Missing Child Is One Too Many
« Last post by Mary-Jane on February 19, 2018, 01:33:46 PM »

One Missing Child Is One Too Many

Missing Children’s Statistics:

The lack of a common definition of “missing child,” and a common response to the issue, results in few reliable statistics on the scope of the problem around the world.

Even with this challenge, we know that:

In Australia, an estimated 20,000 children are reported missing every year. Australian Federal Police, National Coordination Centre.

In Canada, an estimated 45,288 children are reported missing each year. Government of Canada, Canada’s Missing – 2015 Fast Fact Sheet.

In Germany, an estimated 100,000 children are reported missing each year. Initiative Vermisste Kinder.

In India, an estimated 96,000 children go missing each year. Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Missing Children of India.

In Jamaica, an estimated 1,984 children were reporting missing in 2015. Jamaica’s Office of Children’s Registry

In Russia, an estimated 45,000 children were reported missing in 2015. Interview with Pavel Astakhov MIA “Russia Today”, Apr. 4, 2016.

In Spain, an estimated 20,000 children are reported missing every year. Spain Joins EU Hotline for Missing Children, Sep. 22, 2010.

In the United Kingdom, an estimated 112,853 children are reported missing every year. National Crime Agency, UK Missing Persons Bureau.

In the United States, an estimated 460,000 children are reported missing every year. Federal Bureau of Investigation, NCIC.

This, however, is only a snapshot of the problem. In many countries, statistics on missing children are not even available; and, unfortunately, even available statistics may be inaccurate due to: under-reporting/under-recognition; inflation; incorrect database entry of case information; and deletion of records once a case is closed.

The lack of numbers, and the discrepancy in the numbers that do exist, is one of the key reasons why ICMEC developed and advocates for the Model Missing Child Framework, which assists countries with building strong, well-rounded national responses, and facilitates more efficient investigations, management, and resolution of missing children cases.

We firmly believe that one missing child is one too many, and we are committed to improving the global understanding of and response to missing and abducted children.

Rapid Emergency Child Alert Systems

In the United States, the AMBER Alert Program – named for 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and murdered near her grandparents’ home in Texas in 1996 – is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and transportation agencies in which an urgent bulletin is activated in the most serious child-abduction cases.

AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response.” The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child. Broadcasters use the Emergency Alert System to air a description of the abducted child and suspected abductor. The alert is distributed through various technology (e.g., text message, e-mail, fax, radio and television broadcast, social media, etc.) to reach the largest number of people in the fastest time possible.

In addition to the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, emergency child abduction alert systems are in place in the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Each country has its own criteria and guidelines for how and when to launch an alert.

Within the European Union, an EU-wide alert system is being considered with the aim of all EU Member States sharing information if a child has gone missing and there is the possibility that he or she has left his or her home country. This system will be led by law enforcement with the help of NGOs. The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), with the support of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S.-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, assists countries around the world with developing alert programs and sharing best practices.

For more information on how to develop a rapid emergency child alert system please read ICMEC’s Framework.

General Discussion Law / A Same-Sex Domestic Violence Epidemic Is Silent
« Last post by Mary-Jane on February 19, 2018, 12:05:36 PM »
A Same-Sex Domestic Violence Epidemic Is Silent

Typical framing of partner abuse as a heterosexual issue—with men abusing women—does a disservice to victims in abusive homosexual relationships.

Two months into their relationship, Chris's boyfriend José pushed him to the ground in a fit of anger and ripped the clothes off his body. "We had gone out dancing, and when we got home, I was changing in front of him," said Chris, 34.

"I had on my favorite pair of underwear; it was the pair I had worn the first time we went out. He saw the underwear, and just flew into a rage, saying, 'How dare you wear those! Those are for me!'"

José threw him on the floor of their bedroom closet, and smashed the only light bulb in the room, leaving them in darkness. He loomed above Chris on the floor as he tore the underwear away. That was the first time things had ever turned violent between the two.

"I was in such a state of shock," Chris recounted seven years later, his fingers tapping at a wine glass stem and his brown eyes drifting. "I thought, 'Oh, he's just jealous; it's the drinking,' and I let it go. There was a lot of drinking in this relationship. No drugs, but lots of drinking."

"The idea that a woman can be the one who's abusive throws a wrench in the traditional view. The idea that only men can be batterers makes it a lot harder for men to get access to shelter."

The second time was worse. "He was angry at something—I can't remember what—and I was laughing," said Chris. José again became incensed, strode into the kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife. "He pulled me by my hair, had me on my knees and had the butcher knife at my neck."

Chris says he didn't react. At the time, his sister was pregnant, and he wanted to live to see his niece. "I talked him down, told him to give me the knife. I put my hand on his, and we put the knife back in place together," said Chris, demonstrating by holding his two hands together.

That night, José locked their bedroom door for fear that Chris would escape and tell someone. The next morning, he told Chris, "You know I didn't mean it, right?"

"That was his way of apologizing to me," Chris scoffed. The relationship lasted nine months, but continued to affect Chris for years after it ended.


Sam, 25, describes himself as having been "naive and impressionable," during the time he was dating David. "He's not a stupid person," Sam told me over Skype. "He never hit me or threw things directly at me, but he would frighten me enough to make me back down."

According to Sam, David became increasingly controlling after they moved in together, three or four months into their relationship. At that point, because of the apartment lease, he said, "it was too late to just up and go."

One of David's main methods of control was evoking pity and threatening to harm himself.

"He would get very sad and upset which, in hindsight, was a plea for compassion," Sam said, "As time went on, he became controlling through jealousy. Any attention that I didn't give to him—whether I gave it to friends, family, or other guys, even just other gay men who were my friends—he would get very upset if I hung out with them too much."

David eventually forced Sam to open a joint bank account so that Sam couldn't "stockpile" any funds and move out. He increasingly tried to cut off Sam’s contacts with friends and family.

After two and a half years, Sam managed to end the relationship after David admitted he had returned to using cocaine.


LaTesha, 18, is a consummate Queens girl. Tough and stoic behind her soft voice and hooded sweatshirt, she is about to graduate from high school and wants to study criminal justice in college. She has already been beaten up by a girlfriend. "It only happened when we got into an argument," she said, her brown eyes getting serious. "If she felt like she was being disrespected, she would swing at me."

"We always argued," she continued. "But you know how a couple can argue and then just be back to normal? We would argue, be back to normal. When we argued again, she would bring up the last argument. And it would just build up.” There was always something to argue about and usually, LaTesha said, it was girls.

"She was so insecure," LaTesha recalled. "If I'd be hanging out with one of my friends who was a girl, she'd see me and say 'What's this? You cheating on me?' And I always told her, 'You need to stop.' And then we would get into it. It was a pattern. We would break up for one week, get back together another. We must have broken up about 20 times."

The final break-up happened when Monique landed several punches on LaTesha in front of the staff of Safe Space, an LGBT community center in Jamaica, Queens.


"There can be a fear of making the community look bad. Some people might have a legitimate fear of being looked down on."

Chris, Sam, and LaTesha are smart people with educations, plans, and busy social lives. They all identify as homosexual, and they all have had experiences with physically or psychologically abusive partners who left them financially, mentally, or emotionally damaged. Domestic violence—or as it's often referred to today, intimate partner violence—is usually discussed in the context of heterosexual relationships. But partner violence is also an issue in the LGBTQ community, a fact that has only come to light in recent years.

Tre'Andre Valentine, the Community Programs Coordinator at The Network/La Red, a Boston-based domestic violence support group specifically for LGBTQ people, says that because domestic violence is still thought of as a heterosexual problem, there can be major hurdles when trying to find funding and conduct research, as well as when providing services to people who don't fit in the stereotype of a domestic violence survivor. "The idea that a woman can be the one who's abusive throws a wrench in the traditional view," Valentine said. "The idea that only men can be batterers makes it a lot harder for men to get access to shelter."

Yejin Lee, an associate at the Anti-Violence Program in New York City, said that the assumption of heterosexuality has been a huge stumbling block for gays and lesbians seeking refuge from an abuser. "One problem is the way domestic violence has been framed for the past 30 years," she said. Since the entire movement against domestic abuse started as a battered women's movement, Lee said, we are ingrained to think that victims are all are married, straight women.

As a mental health counselor with the Violence Recovery Program in Boston, Jessica Newman says that because the default assumption is that people are straight, there can be an attitude within shelters that a gay person somehow “deserved” the violence. "Same-sex relationships are often demonized or marginalized," she said, "So some people's attitudes are 'it serves you right.'"

But Newman, Lee, and Valentine all added that there are also internal factors that keep a cover of darkness over the issue of domestic violence in the gay community.

"There can be a fear of making the community look bad," said Newman. "Some people might have a real and legitimate fear of being looked down on, or not finding services through the police, judicial system, or a shelter. People don't want that negative image of the community out there."

Valentine added, "There's the idea that we'll be airing dirty laundry. It sort of discredits the community to say that abuse is happening, after all the work we've been doing [to enter mainstream society]. There's the feeling that we don't want to attach something additionally bad to us, so it's not talked about."

Sitting in a small restaurant near Madison Square Garden, Chris mulled over his past. "I know gay couples in the Bronx who beat the shit out of each other," he said. "The weird thing is, it's like fighting with your brother. You're going at each other, and you're not taking it seriously, and you don't think of it as a problem, it's just the fabric of your relationship. But you don't realize it's a piece of fabric you can cut out."

Raised in a conservative, military family, with a history of sexual abuse running on both sides, Chris said he always felt like the odd one out growing up. "I was raised to tolerate what was dished out," he remembered. "It was just dysfunctional. I grew up with a closeted uncle who died of AIDS and a mother who hit my father, who would then turn around and hit us."

Chris moved from Chicago to New York when he was 21 so that he could live life as an out gay man, he said. "I had a full time job, full time benefits, and my own apartment," he said. "That didn't last."

Chris met José at a lounge in Washington Heights in late September 2004, and for him, it was love at first sight. "I saw his eyes, the way he dressed," he said. "He made me feel secure. He was a husky guy. My ideal: a masculine Latino."

A honeymoon period ensued and within three months the two were living together. Chris said he doted on José, alienating friends and family in the process. But the honeymoon period ended soon after José moved in. He started taking over everything in Chris's life. "It started with verbal abuse," Chris said. "Little things: put downs about the apartment, about me, and then it turned into everything. He wasn't happy with anything."

"I grew up self-conscious. I was made to feel inferior at school and at home," Chris continued. "And I just lost all the self-esteem that I had found when I came here and came out. I'm smart! I graduated from college, I've won awards. And he just made me feel like so much less than I was. [But] the less happy he was, the more I would try to fix things."

Chris sensed José wasn't happy, but it never occurred to him that the relationship had turned bad, or would soon turn physically violent.

"I didn't tell anybody [about the violence in the relationship],” Chris said. “I didn't want to! They're just going to tell you what you don't want to hear."

The summer after José moved in, after those first incidents of violence, Chris was mugged on the street outside their apartment. The thief punched him in the nose, but when Chris went to run after him, José grabbed his arm and stopped him.

"He wouldn't let me call the cops," recalled Chris. "José didn't have legal papers to be in the U.S. and he was scared of what might happen."

Furious, traumatized, and gushing blood, Chris turned around and backhanded José on the street. The two stood looking at each other. Chris remembers this as the moment when the relationship truly began to go downhill.

"I didn't think about leaving until that moment," he said. "It got to the point where I was crying in public. I was crying at work. I couldn't speak my feelings."

The very last time José turned violent was close to the end of their relationship. "He was always on the phone a lot," Chris said. "So one time I reached for his phone to go through it and see who he was talking to, and he just grabbed my wrist and twisted."

By this point, Chris remembers, José was out all the time and coming home late, or not coming home at all. In August of 2005, Chris kept a promise to himself. "I told him, 'I can't count on these fingers how many times you've lied,'" Chris said, spreading all ten fingers out on the table in front of him. "And I promised myself once I couldn't count your lies on these fingers, it would be over.'"

That night, Chris went out without José. "I told myself if I could kiss someone else, then I didn't really love him. Well, I kissed someone else, and I went home and told him to move out."

Data on the rates of same-sex partner abuse have only become available in recent years. Even today, many of the statistics and materials on domestic violence put out by organizations like the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Justice still focus exclusively on heterosexual relationships, and specifically heterosexual women. While the CDC does provide some resources on its website for the LGBT population, the vast majority of the information is targeted at women.  Materials provided by the CDC for violence prevention and survivor empowerment prominently feature women in their statistics and photographs.

"[LGBTQ people] have not had a very good relationship with police and law enforcement, so folks may not be reporting it."

In 2013, the CDC released the results of a 2010 study on victimization by sexual orientation, and admitted that “little is known about the national prevalence of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking among lesbian, gay, and bisexual women and men in the United States.” The report found that bisexual women had an overwhelming prevalence of violent partners in their lives: 75 percent had been with a violent partner, as opposed to 46 percent of lesbian women and 43 percent of straight women. For bisexual men, that number was 47 percent. For gay men, it was 40 percent, and 21 percent for straight men.

The most recent statistics available on same-sex intimate partner violence from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which focuses on LGBT relationships, reported 21 incidents of intimate partner homicides in the LGBT community, the highest ever. Nearly half of them were gay men and, for the second year in a row, the majority of survivors were people of color—62 percent.

In 2012, NCAVP programs around the country received 2,679 reports of intimate partner violence, a decrease of around 32 percent from 2011. However the report noted that many of the NCAVP’s member organizations were operating at decreased capacity due to limiting the number of cases they were able to take. The report said that excluding data from organizations, there was actually a 29 percent increase in reports of violence from 2011 to 2012.

"Statistics are very controversial," wrote Curt Rogers, executive director of the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Program, in an email. "And it's possible that men are underreported. The bottom line for me [is that] it happens to men, period, so we should be inclusive in our approach and not marginalize the male victim population."

Valentine, from The Network/La Red, said that in his experience, the rates of violence in the LGBTQ community seem comparable to those in the straight community. "The rate of domestic violence that has been documented is one in four women, and it's pretty much the same for LGBTQ folks," he said.

"Reporting can be really difficult, and historically we [LGBTQ people] have not had a very good relationship with police and law enforcement, so folks may not be reporting it."

In any case, he continued, the police might not believe the victims when they call, the attitude often being, "You're both men, work it out between yourselves," or, "Women aren't violent; they don't hit each other."

Indeed, according to the NCAVP report, only 16.5 percent of survivors reported interacting with the police, but in one-third of those cases, the survivor was arrested instead of the abuser. A mere 3.7 percent of survivors reported seeking access to shelters.

"We need to change the way we look at domestic violence," Rogers said. "I don't see it in any way as a gender issue. I see it as a power and a control issue."


Sam met his first and, so far, only boyfriend, David, outside of a club one night while he was in his second year of college. "The first thing I remember thinking when I saw him was 'Oh God, never,'" he said, laughing. "As in, I would never date somebody like that. He was very assertive; almost a purposely bitchy persona, which is not uncommon in the club scene."

But date they did. After a bit of flirting back and forth on Facebook, within three or four months, as Sam remembers it, they were living together.

"In hindsight," said Sam, "I sort of already knew things were off, which really should have been my chance to get away. But it wasn't until we moved in when I started to realize that amount of control that was going on."

David soon became aware that Sam was unhappy and, according to Sam, he increasingly tried to force a façade of a stable life and healthy relationship on him.

"He went from using emotions to manipulate me, to smashing things, to threatening to commit suicide, to threatening to harm our cat, to threatening to ruin me in various ways—socially, academically, that kind of thing. About a year in, I tried twice to get out of it. He would say 'Okay, that's fine,' and then he would smash up the apartment. He would smash mirrors or push the Christmas tree over or threaten to kill himself. That's usually when the threats became the worst, when he was trying to control me into staying," Sam said, recounting once incident when he tried to break up with David, and David smashed an entire rack of drying dishes, saying, 'Well I guess we don't need any couples dishes anymore.'"

Sam insisted that David was delusional and trying to cling to the idea of a stable, normal life with Sam. David, as it turns out, did not have a stable background. He came from a troubled family: His mother was alcoholic, and his parents, while loving, were dysfunctional and destructive. In addition, David told Sam that an older boy had molested him when he was 12 or 13. He developed a cocaine habit that, he told Sam when they met, he had kicked.

Both men eventually grew depressed, and Sam felt increasingly frightened and isolated by David's behavior—not to mention embarrassed that the neighbors could always hear when David flew off the handle. He had only one friend he felt he could turn to, who of course pleaded with Sam to break things off.

During this time, David began slipping back into cocaine use, and Sam buried himself in his studies. Focusing on earning an honors degree, he said, helped get him through.

"Often he would try to 'guilt trip' me about the time I spent doing school," Sam recalled. "But I was able to hang on to that as sort of a hope and a goal."

In December 2010, David forced Sam into an engagement. "I was so afraid of what he was capable of," Sam recalled. "It was less problematic to keep this up than to break it up." Then, in mid-August 2011, David came forward and admitted he had started using cocaine again.

"I was in the shower," said Sam. "And he came in the washroom and said, 'I have something to tell you. I've been doing cocaine again. A lot of it, and spending a good chunk of our money on it.' We'd been really struggling money-wise, like, probably below poverty line at some points."

Sam got out of the shower and went out, and David began making calls to friends and family, admitting his problem, telling them that he'd been lying to them and taking money from them.

"Years ago, he had had one slip up," Sam said. "And I said, 'Okay, I get it, you're a recovering addict. But you do it again, you slip up again, and it's over.' And that's the card I pulled. I'd been looking for a way out for two years."

The psychology of domestic abuse, both those who perpetrate it and those who survive it, has been studied for years. Multiple factors have been shown to contribute, including childhood abuse, mental illness, cultural norms, stress, and unbalanced power dynamics in the relationship.

Brian Norton has been a therapist in New York for 12 years, specializing in "challenges related to gay men (homophobia, coming out, etc.)" and couples therapy. He said that often a controlling or abusive personality forms in childhood.

"We all recreate the same dynamics over and over again. Ninety-nine if not 100 percent of the time, victims have had previous abusive relationships."

Abusive relationships are, of course, emotionally draining for the victim. "It's disorienting," Norton said. "One minute they're telling you they love you, and being strong, and loving and positive; then they're cheating on you, or not respecting you, and not paying attention to what you need."

Benjamin Seaman, also a New York-based therapist who has been practicing since 2001, specializes in polyamorous relationships and has also seen the "full spectrum" of gay couples. In Seaman's philosophy, violence and abuse are "usually the tools of someone who feels powerless." Seaman agreed that bad relationships fuel other bad relationships and that sometimes the lingering stress of abusive childhood incidents leads to an ongoing shame in adulthood. This can further contribute to stress in a gay relationship, said Seaman, when one or both of the people are "self-loathing" gays.

Norton gave the example of one couple currently in his care. "One person in the couple doesn't have his life together, and his partner does. He feels intimidated and threatened by the success and stability of the partner. So he became abusive."


"I didn't see it as [her] beating me. But I had to realize that's not the answer for when we get into altercations.”

LaTesha, the high-school student from Queens, admits that when she was in first grade, she used to "do things that we weren't supposed to do" with a next door neighbor's daughter. The first person she came out to was her best friend when she was 15. Her mother found out by reading her diary. "She was just like, 'You love girls now? Not in my house!' and she started bashing me. And so I told her I would never tell her anything ever again."

LaTesha was 16 when she met Monique, who was 18, in school. The two started dating, and soon after, started fighting. "This scar, on my neck? Her," she said softly, massaging the thin line with her fingers. "That's from her nails."

LaTesha insists the two didn't physically fight often in their 19 months together. "I'm not the type to do that," she said. "If I love somebody, I will never put my hands on them. I just figured that she got mad, and she swung. That’s what happens when people get mad—I didn't see it as she was beating me. I didn't see it as that. But then I had to realize that's not always the answer for when we get into altercations.”

Others noticed. "People would come to me and ask what happened, 'cause I would usually have scratches or a little bruise on my face. I'd tell them I got into it with her and they'd say, 'I don't' understand why you're putting yourself through this.' I'd be like, 'Well, I love her, and I'm going to accept her for who she is.'"

Monique began trying to manipulate LaTesha, telling her who she could and couldn't hang out with. She bought LaTesha a cell phone and then took it back when she thought LaTesha was texting other girls. When they fought, Monique would hurl insults at LaTesha, saying, "I hope you die of AIDS," and calling her a slut. After the last time the two broke up, LaTesha said, "She just wouldn't let it go. She tried to get back with me. I was still in love with her [Monique], but I didn't want to be with her anymore."

At the time, LaTesha had started dating another girl. Monique didn't like this, tracked the pair down at Safe Space, and came in swinging at the new girlfriend. A final confrontation occurred in front of staff, counselors, and peers at Safe Space. LaTesha had begun volunteering as a peer educator there after she and Monique broke up for the last time. "I could have gotten banned from Safe Space," LaTesha said of the fight.

"We weren't even together, and she was, quote-unquote, in love with me. I was just like, 'No. You're not going to hit her. You got a problem, it's between me and you.' And she swung at me. She got in my face and said, 'What are you gonna do?' And she hit me, and then she did it again."

The Safe Space staff managed to separate the two, and LaTesha remained a peer counselor with the group.

Lesbian women can have a very hard time finding shelter. And sometimes, an abuser will call a shelter claiming to be a victim. "What may happen," said Valentine at Network/La Red, "is that both a survivor and an abuser can access services, so it might not be the safest harbor for a lesbian survivor."

Newman at the Violence Recovery Program said that proper screening techniques can help enhance shelters' safety. "We screen both parties," she said. "And we won't work with batterers. We'll refer them to a batterer's intervention program. But I've definitely seen it. People will see themselves as victims when they're not."

It's tough enough to get into a domestic violence shelter if you're straight, no matter your gender. Kristen Clonan is a spokesperson for Safe Horizon, which claims to be New York City's largest provider of domestic violence residence with nine shelters and around 725 beds throughout the city. Clonan said that in 2011, nearly 2,500 women, children, and men sought out shelter at Safe Horizon, and Safe Horizon's three hotlines field 163,000 calls annually.

"The staff might have a non-discrimination policy, but it's not enforced, and that definitely affects a lot of survivors."

That's a lot of demand for 725 beds. And shelters that cater to LGBT people are even more perilously few and far between. Cassildra Aguilera, the LGBTQ program coordinator for Safe Space, said there is one shelter in New York City that identifies as LGBTQ-specific, with 200 beds. Of the mainstream shelters, only 12 are LGBTQ friendly, and all are based in Manhattan. According to Network/La Red in Boston, only two of the 30 domestic violence shelters in Massachusetts are specifically geared toward LGBTQ people: Network/La Red, and the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Program. Of mainstream programs, only eight accept LGBT people. Many shelters, even if they say they're LGBT-friendly, reportedly fail when it comes to providing for LGBT safety needs.

Valentine of The Network/La Red said there's a lot of homophobia in shelters among shelter residents. "The staff might have a non-discrimination policy, but it's not enforced, and that definitely affects a lot of survivors."

Transgender people have an especially hard time, according to Newman. They might not find a shelter, because often neither men's nor women's shelters take transgendered people. If they find a place in a homeless shelter, they might be housed with the men, which could be dangerous, or with women, which can agitate shelter residents. Curious people may ask intrusive questions, or they might not be seen as "real" women or "real" men, which, Newman said, is tremendously demeaning.

A month after breaking up with José, Chris tried to commit suicide. He failed, and shortly after began a course of therapy that, he says, helped him come to terms not only with this damaging relationship, but also with his tumultuous family life. After a rough few years during which he suffered from depression and severely decreased libido, he has just begun to make his way into the dating scene again. He has a steady job working in children’s after-school education.

Sam graduated from college and has begun a master’s degree program. He and his friends work to actively ignore and cut David out of their lives, despite David's repeated attempts to be in touch and get back together. And Sam says he has begun to date again, as his mental health has slowly improved with the help of his psychiatrist and his counselor.

Soon after the last violent encounter with Monique, LaTesha met the girlfriend she is currently seeing and says that she has definitely learned from her experience with Monique.

"The girlfriend I have now, she's so much different than before. You know, if we argue, we just won't talk to each other. If we play-fight, and we know it's about to get serious, we'll stop."

LaTesha is still a volunteer peer educator with Safe Space. Every week, she works to educate the Queens community about the LGBT population and spread the message of safe sex and healthy relationships.

In May 2013, President Obama re-authorized the Violence Against Women Act. While the law still focuses on women in heterosexual relationships, it has a new section that includes coverage of same-sex partners—a big sign that attitudes are changing. Rogers and Newman both agree that circumstances are improving for gays seeking shelter and help.

"Twenty years ago there was nothing," Rogers said. "Now there are significantly more resources and a much higher likelihood of a positive response from mainstream providers and first responders."

As individuals and society come to recognize same-sex partner violence as an existing problem, there is hope.

Forgotten Stories of Violence Against Gay Men in New Zealand and Australia

Tess McClure Feb 16 2017, 2:33am

We spoke to photographer Sean Coyle about his work memorializing sites of homophobic violence.

A toilet block, a seaside clifftop, a lamp-lit street: The scenes photographed by Sean Coyle don't immediately give away signs of a dark past. But all are the sites of horrifying violence, inflicted on gay men in Australia and New Zealand since the 1970s.

Many of the locations have had their violent histories erased or forgotten, but Coyle's new exhibition, Cruising Wonderland, acts as a memorial to the notorious sites of homophobic hate crimes across Australasia. We spoke to Coyle about his project, his work, and his hopes for the future.

VICE: Can you tell us a little about the "Wonderland" that lends the title to this latest body of work?
Sean Coyle: I was looking at the history of New South Wales in Australia, which has a horrific history of homophobic violence, especially in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. I was looking at where that had happened, and the cliffs of Bondi were one of the significant sites. A number of men were thrown off the cliffs, and it was ignored by police or just treated as a suicide. Multiple men this happened to, and they didn't think to connect the dots. It was a particularly tough time in New Zealand and Australian history because it was in the height of the AIDS epidemic and the panic about AIDS by society, and that sort of fueled these groups of youths that took it on themselves to dish out violence to men and treat it as a sport, "poofter bashing." Anyway, in looking at this particular site, Bondi, I did a bit of research about the surrounding area and discovered that for about five years an early colonial theme park had existed there called Wonderland. I felt, having done the research about the site, it was quite a poignant historic reference: Wonderland.

And some of the other locations that appear in your photographs, are they each historically significant for acts of violence? What are their stories?
Yeah, the different places are. I photographed this toilet block in Hamilton, where a man was stabbed in the back by another man. The attacker also stabbed another man in a different toilet block as well. In court, he said he wanted to rid the world of homosexuals. And the other photo is Inverlochy Place, which is a Wellington Street where the 14-year-old Jeff Whittington was bashed and left for dead a number of years ago, because he was wearing nail polish on his way home one night. [Editor's Note: Whittington died from his injuries].

They are really dark and heavy subjects to be dealing with. How's it been for you, the experience of making the work and engaging with the stories as well?
The work is dark, and it's dark on purpose. Not just thematically dark, but the works are actually dark to see—so that they sort of just appear out of darkness, and I think that's really important for the work and in thinking about it. For me, lightness means clarity, and because I don't have that much clarity on the reasons behind why these things happen, the darkness is a really important aspect of it. Highlighting the dark history, for me, in particular the queer dark history in Australasia, I think is important. They become memorials, and it's important for us to remember. To remember our histories and move forward.

I imagine that these locations aren't memorialized in other, more formal ways, like the cliffs at Bondi and so on. Is this a way for you to begin that?
Yeah, it is. The tricky thing is trying ways to memorialize without sensationalizing as well. The work is somber and reflective in content, and actual material surface as well. Most of the work you see, they're printed on metal, so it's an incredibly glossy surface: When you are looking at the work, you're also seeing yourself in the work reflected into it. They're self reflective, and the somber nature of the content does allow for us to think and remember.

You're exhibiting as part of pride festival. Do you have any particular hopes with how people react with the work? Or what they take away from it?
I hope that people see beyond the images and are aware of the history and the place that it comes from. In the writing surrounding it, I hope that I've been clear about that. It is an opportunity to reflect on some of the dark history that queer people in New Zealand and Australia have been subjected to, and continue to be around the world, so while it's dark, I hope that people leave with some sense of hope, as well, of where we're moving to, and there are some works in the exhibition that do speak of hope, and are not hopeless.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Cruising Wonderland is running until April 2 at TSB Wallace Arts Centre in Auckland as part of pride festival.

Barriers to male victims accessing formal support services

While some male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence may experience a range of significant and negative consequences as a result of their victimisation, the literature and findings from stakeholder consultations suggest a large proportion of male victims may not be accessing formal support services following an incidence of violence. For many men, this is probably because they do not actually need formal support. Others, however, who may benefit from contact with formal support services, do not do so. The perceived and actual barriers to men engaging with formal support services that were raised by stakeholders and/or suggested in the literature are discussed here. Some of these barriers are quite specific to men, whereas others are more generic yet potentially more potent for men in combination with other, recognised obstacles.
Personal and social barriers to male victims engaging with formal support services

Men set up their own barriers and boundaries (Service provider personal communication September 2012)

In describing the personal and social barriers that may inhibit male victims from seeking formal support, it is important that generalisations about male responses are not liberally applied. Nonetheless (and while stakeholders were hesitant about supporting generalities), there was agreement that social norms about what it means to be a man, privacy concerns and knowledge about the availability of victim support contributed as much as systematic barriers in discouraging contact with formal support.

Social norms and the concept of shame

Men, as observed by one stakeholder, were ‘victims of endemic machismo’ (Service provider personal communication September 2012). The effect was an unwillingness by some men to show any weakness, a default response of putting on a ‘tough front’ and a consequent denial of need for support, either informal or formal. Stakeholders attributed this trend in part to strong social interpretations of masculinity within some cultural groups. However, it should not be assumed that gender constructs only apply to men from backgrounds with acknowledged or overt cultural norms about masculinity, as they were just as valid for men (eg young men) from other social or cultural backgrounds.

Tied to male reticence about seeking support is the concept of shame. Again, the effect that shame can elicit on both male responses to victimisation and their help-seeking behaviour was largely identified as being more acute among Indigenous or CALD (eg Pacific, Middle Eastern, Sudanese) men but certainly not absent among other adult male victims. This shame originated from the experience of victimisation (ie being in circumstances where they were ‘helpless’ and unable to ‘protect themselves’ or others (Service providers personal communication September 2012)), compounded by self, family and/or social disapproval about perceived inability to cope and possible need for assistance. Indeed, shame was almost universally cited among the stakeholders interviewed as a highly influential constraint.

Help-seeking behaviour

The literature on help-seeking behaviour was shown in an earlier section of this report to be limited and the findings inconsistent. What emerged from the consultations, however, was a view that some men were less inclined to look for victim support and were less likely to know where to look.

Men don’t know where to turn to (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

Indeed, it was suggested that men’s denial of need for support required the use of external prompting to encourage contact with victim support services. As one (male) service provider observed:

This macho bullshit…means that men won’t go and find services themselves, they need to be referred (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

Men may deflect attention away from their support needs by focusing the service provider’s efforts towards their family members. As one stakeholder observed ‘[a] bloke feels obliged to put himself in the backseat and focus attention on everyone else’ (Service provider personal communication October 2012). One of a few examples provided by stakeholders was that of an elderly man whose relative had been a victim of a homicide. This man, who saw his position as the ‘protector’ of the family and contended that any support should be provided to the sister of the deceased, in spite of the service provider’s opinion that the man was the one more in need of support (Service provider personal communication September 2012). It was mentioned in the previous section that female relatives sometimes take it on upon themselves to enquire about services for male victims, often because they know their male relative will not make that step.

Interestingly, a few service providers suggested that male victims may be more willing to engage in support services if they came in the guise of structured and purposeful activity, such as Men’s Sheds and other forms of male cooperatives. Some men may be disinclined to seek or respond to support services if it is provided in conventional formats (eg one-to-one counselling) but more willing in situations where support is an outcome rather than the focus of the activity. These cooperatives were likened to ‘group therapy over a cup of tea’ (Service provider personal communication October 2012) and in a sense, represent an alternate way for male victims to respond to and cope with the effects of their victimisation. This feedback is supported by the literature, which suggested that

many men define themselves via their work, often feeling more comfortable in the workplace than in health oriented settings such as community health centres, hospitals, maternal and child health centres and general practices (Malcher 2009: 92).

This observation sheds some light on why men may be more comfortable undertaking structured activities that are underpinned by therapeutic principles and aims, rather than engaging with services that are easily identifiable as having a health or support focus.

Past experience and trust

Past experience and trust was nominated by stakeholders as a possible contributory factor in low reporting rates to police for male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence, and were suggested again when explaining disconnection from formal support. The consequence of past experience with Australian victim support services, unfortunately, was not raised and hence cannot be expanded upon here.

Stakeholder discussion of the effect of previous experience and trust generally referred to what individuals had been exposed to outside of Australia, which translated into fear or suspicion of local authority, such as law enforcement and potentially government-sponsored support services. This was potentially more potent among refugees and persons from countries characterised by civil unrest or where law enforcement operated less ethically. In some cases, one stakeholder explained, the professionals or service providers who had worked with refugees in their country of birth or while in transit had been involved in that person’s mistreatment (Service provider personal communication September 2012). The mistreatment, and its impact on other traumas experienced, sometimes meant male refugee clients withdrew or did not engage with the support services being offered to them in Australia.

More locally based trust issues, particularly with the police and other government services, were suggested as potentially affecting Indigenous male victims’ willingness to engage with victim support. If the support offered was perceived as being in some way connected to the police, however tenuous the link, then men were potentially less likely to engage with the service. Yet stakeholders also highlighted the importance of this first contact between the victim and police, suggesting that it was critical for the establishment of trust in the broader criminal justice system and in turn, victim engagement with formal support services. In situations where male victims felt the police did not take the matter seriously or assumed they were in some way responsible for their victimisation, trust may be irrevocably broken and formal engagement lost.

Small community and cultural effects

The small community effect is not exclusive to men but may interact with other more recognisably male-specific barriers to influence choice about engaging with support services. ‘Small communities’ is used here to refer to small population groups resident in regional and remote areas of New South Wales (eg ‘small country towns’) and/or members of specific community groups (typically but not exclusively Indigenous and CALD communities).

The protection of privacy and confidentiality is a significant factor in whether victims of violent crime (be they men or women) choose to report the incident to police and if they choose to consult with support services, either independently or where referred. Fears about a breach of privacy may be considerable when victims are experiencing shame, there is the risk of reprisal or social condemnation for reporting the matter and/or there is the risk of misunderstanding from the family or peer group about using victim support services. Stakeholders who worked in regional settings or who had contact with male victims from regional and remote parts of New South Wales noted that the limited number of services available outside of Sydney almost certainly added to concerns among some male victims that the nature of their victimisation or their use of formal support, even from General Practitioners, could become more widely known. In other words, ‘your business inevitably became everyone else’s business’.

Fear of exposure was similarly recognised for men from communities in which the acceptance of support per se and support from outside the immediate family or peer group was an ‘unfamiliar way of doing things’ (Service provider personal communication September 2012). Such social/cultural pressures have already been discussed in shaping men’s responses to victimisation. In this context, men may be worried about the judgement they will receive from the family and possibly the community if they acknowledge their victim status (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

Often contiguous with fear or distrust of police described above is community censure. These social effects are not unique to men but cultural constructs around solidarity could enact stronger pressures to comply with what the community expects.

It was observed that members of some communities are fearful of reporting because community mores, be they broadly held or stipulated by a smaller group of influential elements, make it ‘highly dangerous’ for them to interact with the police. These scenarios generally refer to the risk of reprisal from the offender(s) or their associates and family members if contact with the police is made. Community censure also encompasses disapproval of making a complaint (in this case, reporting a matter to the police) against another member of the community. It was acknowledged, for example, that among Indigenous communities ‘you don’t go to the police and “dog” another Indigenous person’ (Service provider personal communication September 2012). This maxim was felt so strongly in the community this stakeholder worked with that the majority of male victim witnesses they encountered only rarely were providing evidence against an Indigenous defendant. In other words, there was an apparent and significant reticence to report a violent offence committed by another Indigenous person, particularly if they were from among the victim’s immediate community.

Transient lifestyle

A small number of stakeholders highlighted the effect of transient lifestyles on retention rates with support services among men. Young Indigenous men, for example, often travel back and forth between different parts of the state, making it difficult for them to stay connected with formal support services. In such situations, services may have to eventually disengage with the client. For men leading transient lifestyles who wish to access or maintain some form of formal support, flexible options of service provision may be difficult to find. One service provider recounted their experience trying to organise counselling for one male victim who was moving around the state. The client wanted to access counselling over the phone, but did not want to call a service such as Lifeline. The service provider attempted to locate a counsellor who would be willing to provide their services over the phone but was unsuccessful.

Structural/systematic barriers to engaging male victims in formal support services

Structural and systematic barriers encompass broader issues of availability, accessibility and appropriateness which are common themes when discussing service provision.


It was suggested that generally speaking, men have not been seen as a priority for victim support services. This has led, according to a number of stakeholders, to unevenness in the focus of service provision and a prevailing belief among some court partners and service providers that male victims are more capable of coping with their victimisation than women. Consequently, male victims of violence who potentially would have benefitted from being referred to a formal support service may not be. This oversight prompted one service provider to produce a pamphlet specifically for male victims after an assessment that there was little information available to this group of victims (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

In particular, a number of service providers observed that the kinds of support and assistance they could offer victims attending court were in part influenced by the gender of the victim. As one court-based service provider argued:

If you’re a female victim of violence I can put you in a safe room, offer you a cup of tea and a biscuit and three support workers will be there. You don’t even have to be a victim of actual violence as long as you have an AVO [Apprehended Violence Order] you are protected from seeing the offender and their family. If you’re a male victim I’ve got nothing for you. I can give you a newspaper and that’s about it…There’s a huge difference between the services that are there for women and men (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

The main example provided by stakeholders in relation to this issue concerned the use of ‘safe rooms’. Safe rooms are areas situated within court facilities that have been allocated to victims and witnesses of crime so they do not have to sit in the court or the general waiting area. A number of stakeholders noted that being asked to sit in court or the general waiting area could be stressful for victims, particularly if they were afraid or nervous about seeing the perpetrator and their family. Although the availability of safe rooms differs between courts, it appears that most safe rooms are for the exclusive use of women. Consequently, male victims have little option but to sit in the court or the waiting area.

That being said, a number of stakeholders argued that court partners, service providers and the police are adept at identifying high-needs male victims when they came into contact with them. Victims often identified as requiring assistance were characterised as showing signs of emotional distress and agitation, needing constant reassurance and not appearing to have informal support such as family and friends. Service providers noted that court partners had demonstrated a willingness to refer these high-needs victims to formal support services. This suggests, however, that male victims who do not exhibit these behaviours may not be identified by court partners and service providers and therefore referred. In these circumstances, it may be difficult for the court partner or service provider to recognise need for additional support, unless interaction with the victim after the initial contact is for some reason continued and/or evidence of need for support is demonstrated through some other means.

Service provider priority areas

As noted in previous sections of this report, some of the victim support services that are currently available in New South Wales focus their resources on a small number of priority crime types and victim groups. This means that in practice, male victims who do not fall into these priority areas may not be referred to specific formal support programs. For example, one program operating in New South Wales focuses on male and female victims of sexual and domestic violence, and children victim/witnesses. Thus, this service usually had few male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence on its client lists.

Resource issues and a high demand for services are common factors in the establishment of provider priority areas and violent crimes that are collectively seen as particularly serious will justifiably be the focus of support attention. However, it does mean that in practice male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence are often not prioritised by these services and may have fewer options to receive formal support and assistance.

Limitations of support services currently available

While there are a range of services that male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence may engage with, there are a number of limitations associated with these programs that may act as specific barriers to this group of victims. First, as presented in Table 4, not all NSW services are available across the state, with most operating in metropolitan Sydney and larger regional centres. Male victims attending court or residing in areas not covered by these services have fewer options for engaging with services. Stakeholders said this was a particular issue in regional and remote areas. Men living in these areas often had only one of two options—their General Practitioner or telephone-based referral and support. Similarly, many court support services are only located in one level of court, typically the local courts. While there are notable exceptions to this rule (eg Mission Australia Court Support Service and the DPP WAS), some male victims attending district or higher courts may not have access to similar levels of support.

Of the victim support services operating in New South Wales, there is currently a lack of services that address the needs of men and specific groups of male victims. MensLine is the only male-specific service available, but its focus is on men experiencing familial and relationship issues, rather than victim support per se. Male victims of sexual assault have some options open to them but services for other male victims of violence were described as ‘generally lacking’ in the state (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

Finally, there appears to be a shortage of services for specific groups of men who are perceived as being particularly vulnerable, either because of their victimisation or because they may sit outside mainstream service provision. For example, the lack of targeted services for homosexual men was highlighted by a number of stakeholders, who noted that this may act as a barrier to homosexual male victims engaging with formal support services. Communication barriers for victims who do not have English as their first language, combined with identified problems about the availability and proficiency of translators, was raised too, although as an issue for CALD communities more generally rather than men specifically.

The scarcity of culturally appropriate services for Indigenous victims in New South Wales, particularly in regional areas, was another concern. One of the reasons for this shortage was the emphasis of attention on offenders and ‘getting them back on track’ (Service provider personal communication September 2012). Hence, the bulk of culturally appropriate support services for Indigenous victims in New South Wales are undertaken by a relatively small group of support workers. Where appropriate services were not available, support workers had to refer their clients to mainstream services, which were not necessarily suitable for some of their male clients. For example, one service provider attributed their clients’ reluctance to accept referrals to the reason that ‘black men do not want to talk about how they feel with white women’ (Service provider personal communication September 2012).

The experiences of this service provider and others referred to throughout this report, is supported by a broader body of literature that has found that many health services currently operating in Indigenous communities are not culturally appropriate for their target population. One of the most common explanations for this gap is that Western understandings and conceptions of health issues, particularly mental illness, are at odds with those held by Indigenous communities (see Vicary & Bishop 2005, Vicary & Westerman 2004; Ypinazar et al. 2007 for an overview of these differences). For example, many Indigenous communities believe that feelings of distress, depression and anxiety are caused by a ‘spiritual or law transgression’ (Vicary & Bishop 2005: 11), or spending too much time away from country, rather than a discrete disease or traumatic event (eg experiencing violence). As a result of this gap, many Indigenous persons prefer traditional methods of healing and will only approach Western services when they have exhausted all other options (Vicary & Bishop 2005).

In light of the disparities, commentators have increasingly emphasised the importance of Indigenous services being culturally competent—services that integrate the ‘practitioner’s cultural awareness and knowledge into the clinical context’ (Berry & Crowe 2009: 7). Culturally appropriate practices that have been identified in relation to the Australian Indigenous population include the use of cultural consultants (Indigenous persons who are willing to vouch for non-Indigenous practitioners), non-direct questioning of patients by practitioners, assessing patients within the context of their culture, family and community, and encouraging practitioners to develop a thorough understanding of the family, tribal and skin groups living in the area (Berry & Crowe 2009; Westerman 2004).

Another culturally competent practice that is relevant to the current research concerns the gender of practitioners and service providers. Research indicates that Indigenous persons are raised to relate to and interact with other people of their own gender (Westerman 2004). Indigenous men may not engage with services staffed predominantly by women. However, the suggestion that Indigenous men may prefer to engage with male practitioners was not unique to this group.

As mentioned earlier, all of the support services consulted as part of this project were staffed predominantly by women. Many stakeholders did not perceive the female-dominated support workforce as being a particular barrier for male victims seeking assistance, yet a small number acknowledged that it had caused some issues. Occasionally, male victims specifically asked to speak to a man, a request they sometimes found logistically difficult to accommodate. Further, some service providers said that from time to time they had difficulty interacting with male clients and had wondered whether a male support worker would have been more appropriate. In debating the relative merits of male and female support persons’ responses to male victims of violence, it was suggested that male support workers may be better at normalising victims’ feelings of fear and shame and reinstating their perceived masculinity. Conversely, some stakeholders argued that men may be able to approach women with an expectation of support and emotional comfort. Men may be reluctant to appear vulnerable in front of another man.

Male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence: Service needs and experiences in court - Executive summary

Reported crime and crime victimisation data from Australia shows that, with the exception of sexual assault and kidnapping/abduction, men are more likely than women to be victims of violent offences (ABS 2013a, 2013b). However, a review of the victimology literature revealed that adult male victims of violence were largely missing from broader discussions around the impact of violent offences on victims and their subsequent support needs. In response to this apparent omission, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) was funded under the Victims of Crime Research Fund (administered by Victims Services, NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice), to undertake a small exploratory study examining the:

support needs and experiences of adult male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence, including when they participate in the trial of perpetrators; and
accessibility and appropriateness of existing formal victim support services in New South Wales for this group of victims.

For the purposes of the research, the victim population was defined as adult males (aged 18 years and over) who had experienced some form of non-sexual/non-domestic violence (eg aggravated or non-aggravated physical assault, armed robbery or stalking) that was committed in New South Wales.

The focus of the research project was to explore the:

    availability and appropriateness of support services in New South Wales for male victims of non- 
    sexual and non-domestic violence;
    perceived barriers for male victims in accessing support services; and
    impact of participating in the court process on these victims.

The project involved two interrelated research methods—a comprehensive literature review and interviews, and focus groups with representatives from victim support and criminal justice agencies who had contact with male victims of violence as part of their everyday work. The AIC conducted nine focus groups and six interviews involving a total of 33 stakeholders during the research period. Key findings from the research are outlined below.

Support services for male victims of violence—A snapshot

In New South Wales, there are currently a number of support agencies and programs that male victims may choose to engage with following a violent offence. These programs and agencies differ from one another on a number of points, including their location, service delivery model, identified priority areas and types of support provided. None of these programs, however, were specifically targeted at men.

A review of these victim support programs and organisations indicated that support services were best placed to engage with male victims at a number of points—immediately following the incident, prior to attending court and during court proceedings. Some service providers acknowledged that they had experienced difficulty engaging with some male clients and a number said they used different engagement techniques when approaching men. While there was variability between programs in the proportion of their caseload that comprised male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence, male victims tended to represent only a small proportion of clients.

Stakeholder perceptions of the experiences of male victims of violence

To assist in understanding the factors that influence a male victim’s decision to engage with a formal support service, stakeholders were asked to comment (based on their experiences working with male victims of violence) on how this victim group respond to both their victimisation and participation in court as victim/witnesses. Stakeholders admitted their reticence in making general statements about male responses to victimisation, noting that other factors besides gender (eg prior victimisation and the circumstances, and level of the harm inflicted) influenced the way that men and women respond to experiences of victimisation. However, some noted that male victims were likely to experience feelings of shame as a result of the offence, which was attributed to feelings of failure and emasculation. Further, there was general consensus that male victims experiencing distress as a result of the offence often ‘presented’ differently to women (at least publicly) and were more likely to display emotions such as anger than were their female counterparts. Some of the more belligerent responses displayed by some men were particularly pronounced when they were attending court as a victim/witness. In these situations, stakeholders attributed victim behaviour to feelings of fear and frustration, and a lack of knowledge about the court process and the role of the victim/witness in the proceedings.

Of particular significance were stakeholder observations that some men normalise certain types of violence (notably ‘pub brawls’ and their ilk). In these circumstances, men may not acknowledge the impact of the victimisation nor see any reason to report the matter or seek assistance, other than from medical services to treat injuries sustained.

Groups of men who were identified by stakeholders as potentially vulnerable included:

    young men (ie 18–25 years);
    homosexual men;
    Indigenous men;
    men from culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD);
    men with a mental illness and/or an acquired brain injury (ABI);
    drug-affected men;
    refugees; and

Some of these victim groups were identified as being particularly vulnerable because they were constrained by social or cultural influences that affected acknowledgement of their victim status (eg Indigenous men and young men). Other groups were identified on the basis that their previous experiences with the criminal justice system (either domestically or in their country of origin) meant they did not believe the offence would be responded to appropriately and so were less likely to report the offence and/or engage with services (eg victim–offenders and refugees). Finally, some groups were identified as potentially more vulnerable because the support services that were available did not meet their specific needs (eg men with ABI and homosexual men).

The pathway of contact

The process through which victims of crime negotiate the criminal justice system and are presented with opportunities to engage with formal support services, may be likened to a pathway where points of contact take place, or preferably should take place, between victims and formal support services. The ‘pathway of contact’ described by stakeholders suggests that services for male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence were more readily available when males were formally linked into the criminal justice system. However, access to these services in the first instance and their likelihood of remaining engaged with the service, appears to be dependent on a range of factors. These include:

    the nature of first contact between the victim and attending police officer;
    service provider identification of the victim as requiring support;
    service provider priorities;
    appropriateness and accessibility of services, and referral options;
    service provider formal follow-up processes; and
    victim self-initiative.

The way in which programs came into contact with clients is similarly variable, but all program representatives were consistent in their view that the quality and content of the first contact with male clients was particularly crucial. Further, most of the stakeholders observed that male victims were much more receptive to an offer of assistance if it focused on guidance and information, with underlying emotional support.

Male victims were less likely to engage with formal support services if they did not report the matter to the police and if they were unable to establish rapport with the attending police officer (or the support worker). The support services that are available to male victims also appear to decrease significantly following finalisation of court proceedings. While these trends are not necessarily unique to male victims, the identified points of disconnection were potentially more acute among male victims and particularly male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence.

Barriers to male victims accessing formal support services

Barriers to formal victim support were described by stakeholders as comprising a mix of personal, social and structural factors. Personal and social barriers included:

    the shame of the victimisation and being seen as ‘weak’ and unmasculine;
    lack of knowledge about the availability and accessibility of support services;
    privacy concerns and fear of reprisal for reporting the offence (particularly among men living in
    small communities);
    prior negative experiences when dealing with the police and/or support services; and/or
    transient lifestyles.

Structural and systematic barriers included criminal justice partners failing to identify male victims as requiring assistance, support service eligibility criteria and priority areas, and the location of services. It was also suggested that some male victims may choose not to engage with services if they were not seen as appropriate or meeting their needs. In particular, the lack of male support workers was seen as a potential barrier for male victims who wanted to talk to a man rather than a woman.

Some of these barriers were quite specific to men, whereas others were more generic yet potentially more potent in combination with other recognised obstacles. Some groups of men were confronted with multiple barriers that acted to foster self-denial regarding the need for support and/or gave few options to the victim or referring service provider in providing support services. It is the combination of these barriers that may be perceived as potentially ‘discriminating’ against this group of victims from obtaining support where needed.

Male victims were described by one stakeholder as a ‘hidden group’ in that they were not being recognised as requiring the assistance of formal support services and hence resources were not being allocated to them. This ‘non-recognition’ may represent the most profound barrier for male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence, as the violence they experience, unless perceived as being particularly ‘serious’ (eg homicide), is infrequently identified by service providers as a priority for assistance. This is not to suggest that male victims of non-sexual and non-domestic violence are overlooked, but rather that services may not be as accessible to them as other victim groups.


The findings from this research suggest:

    violent offences and participating in the trials of perpetrators can have a significant impact on male
    while many male victims of violence will obtain the support they require from informal sources,
    some would benefit from engaging with formal support services;
    there were, at time of writing, a range of victim support services operating in New South Wales
    that had some capacity to assist male victims of violence, particularly when they were participating
    in court proceedings; and
    there were a range of barriers that could influence whether a male victim engaged with formal
    support services, including social and personal factors (eg privacy concerns among men living in
    small communities) and structural barriers (eg support service eligibility criteria).

However, while the stakeholders who were interviewed as part of this research have considerable experience working with victims of crime as part of their everyday duties, to present a more complete discussion, the thoughts and experiences of the victims themselves should be compared and coalesced with the perceptions and experiences of service providers.

It is recommended that further research, which incorporates the observations of male victims, be pursued to develop a better understanding of the experiences and support needs of this under-researched victim group, as well as indicating where support options may be expanded or adapted to meet the needs of men.

General Discussion Law / Emerging issues in domestic/family violence research
« Last post by Mary-Jane on February 18, 2018, 07:16:30 PM »
Emerging issues in domestic/family violence research


This paper presents an overview of the key emerging issues in Australian domestic and family violence research. In particular, the paper considers this research in the context of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities; the elderly; those with disabilities; people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; Indigenous communities; homelessness; the impact on children; and issues around perpetrator programs.

This paper presents an overview of some of the key emerging issues in Australian domestic and family violence (D/FV) research. In particular, the paper considers research in the context of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) communities; among the elderly; those with disabilities and people from cultural and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds; family violence and Indigenous communities; the relevance of homelessness; the impact of D/FV on children; and issues around perpetrator programs.

Domestic and family violence in gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities

Jeffries and Ball (2008) argued that the Australian criminological and social science research community has largely been silent on the issue of same-sex domestic violence (SSDV). Pitts et al. (2006) conducted an online survey with 5,476 Australians who identified as GLBTI and described D/FV as a hidden issue in the gay and lesbian community. Indeed, the authors suggested that ‘many GLBTI people do not identify family violence when they experience it because of a lack of recognition of its existence in same sex relationships’ (Pitt et al. 2006: 51). Notwithstanding this limitation, the report found that 33 percent of respondents had been in a relationship with an abusive partner, although it was not clear whether this was within the context of a same-sex relationship. In a later study of 390 Victorian respondents, 31 percent of GLBT respondents had been in a same sex relationship where they were subject to abuse by their partner, with lesbians more likely than gay men to report such abuse (41% vs 29%; Leonard et al. 2008). A recent study has found that the prevalence, types and contextual triggers of violence in male same-sex relationships parallel abuse in opposite sex relationships (Kay & Jeffries forthcoming).

WHV noted that one form of violence which is specific to GLBTI relationships is the abusive partner ‘outing’ or threatening to ‘out’ their partner to family, friends, colleagues or the general community (WHV 2009); similar issues may arise in terms of disclosing HIV positive status (Chan 2005). Irwin (2008: 208) found that the lesbians she interviewed were unsure about ‘what was acceptable, unacceptable or normal behaviour’ in such relationships. In addition, SSDV victims may be particularly vulnerable due to isolation from their support networks and may feel that acknowledging the existence of the violence may further feed any homophobia (WHV 2009).

In a study by Pitts et al. (2006), of those participants who had experienced abuse, only one in 10 had reported the abuse to the police; this rose to 18 and 19 percent respectively for those who reported being hit or forced to have sex. Pitt et al. (2006: 52) acknowledged police measures to improve relationships with GLBTI people which ‘appear to be having some positive impact and should be developed further’. By way of example, the NSW Attorney-General’s Department (2003) Domestic Violence Interagency Guidelines state the importance of police officers contacting gay and lesbian liaison officers in appropriate circumstances. It was also recently reported that NSW Police and the Anti-Violence Campaign would collaborate in 2010 on a campaign to encourage GLBT victims of crime to come forward, with specific reference to D/FV incidents (Potts 2009).

One issue of concern to Pitt et al. (2006) was the lack of referral options for female perpetrators and male victims within mainstream services. Leonard et al. (2008) found that only six percent of GLBT people who reported same-sex partner abuse to police were referred to advice or support services. In 2006, Victoria Police reported that there were no publicly-funded family violence counselling agencies to which they could refer male victims of same sex partner abuse and Leonard et al. (2008: 50) inferred that ‘domestic and sexual violence services may not be meeting the needs of victims of same sex partner abuse’.

Zhou (2009) has suggested that although the NCRVWC’s Plan of Action explicitly acknowledges domestic violence in lesbian relationships (eg see Zhou 2009: 138), it excludes such violence in gay male relationships and does not recognise the unique aspects of SSDV. Future research in this context should include research on the frequency and prevalence of GLBTI D/FV and the contexts in which it occurs; consideration of the impact of such violence on the individual and community generally; information on help seeking and the provision of safe and relevant services; furthering awareness of the incidence and perceptions of and responses to GLBTI domestic violence; and the development of inclusive policy responses (see Irwin 2008; Jeffries & Ball 2008).

This is an extract from: "Emerging issues in domestic/family violence research" by Lorana Bartels (ISSN:1836-9111)

General Discussion Law / A Deeper Look at Stalking
« Last post by Mary-Jane on February 18, 2018, 03:29:37 PM »
A Deeper Look at Stalking

Lorraine Sheridan is an author of several books and more than 50 articles on the topic of stalking. Now the Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Curtin University and her colleagues are conducting research on stalking within the LGBTIQ community.

The team are looking into the types of harassment behaviours that people judge to be unacceptable and acceptable. 

The study will compare the experiences of people in the LGBTIQ community with those of people in wider society and their looking for people to take part in the research.

Dr Sherdian spoke to Graeme Watson on RTRFM’s program ‘All Things Queer‘ earlier this week.

How do you define what stalking is?

That’s a really big question. I did a PhD on stalking nearly 20 years ago, that makes me feel old, but I think my first ten studies were on how to define stalking. It’s really difficult compared to other crimes, because your average stalking case is about two years.

It’s not a quick thing like a robbery or a sexual assault. Stalking goes on and on and it’s often lots of little things put together. So we tend to look at it in the ‘eye of the beholder’ that somebody feels like they are being harassed, it feels like things are out of control, somebody’s not being treated appropriately – we tend to say it’s stalking. Anything can constitute stalking, sending somebody texts, walking past their house, asking questions about them, right up to rape and murder.

It’s quite a big spectrum that we’re talking about isn’t it?

It’s a really big spectrum. Half of all stalkers will have had a romantic relationship with their victim as well, so it cuts across domestic abuse issues. You can have stranger stalkers, you can have mentally ill stalkers, you can have stalkers who generally want to have a relationship but don’t have the social skills – so they’re not actually very harmful but they may appear harmful. It’s actually really really difficult to identify stalking.

Is it a modern phenomenon or is it something we’ve always had?

It’s always been there, funnily enough we got a law against it 15-20 years ago,  ancient Rome had a law against it, it’s mentioned in Shakespeare’s dark sonnets,  its always been around.

I guess on of the more common things we hear about is cyber stalking, stalking happening through the online world.  Where do we draw the line, if I’m looking a someone’s Facebook page too often – when do we move into the world of stalking?

It’s when it’s taken your life over as well. As the actual stalker, when you’re feeling consumed and that you can’t really operate without looking at this person, without following this person, without finding something new about this person, without monitoring this person.  When it starts to consume you, as well as affecting the victim, then you’ve got a problem.

You and your colleagues are about to look into stalking in the LGBTIQ community, what do we know about stalking in our community?

Amazingly very little, we’re hardly talking about a very small minority group, but there have actually been no studies about harassment in the community, and there is over a thousand studies now in general stalking. So we thought it was high time, just in case there are any kind of special needs for the LGBTIQ community; there may or may not be.

I did some research on male rape, particularly in the queer community, about twenty years ago in England. We found there that there were some special needs. I just wondered if there were any here, and if we find a need, we can feed that back into service providers.

We do hear a lot of anecdotal stories, we hear people say ‘My stalker’s back’, is there anecdotal evidence to warrant this new research?

Yes, there’s lots of story evidence on social media, more scientifically we do know that about one in four or five women will be stalked in their lifetime, and about one in twenty men. But of the men, they are more likely to be stalked by other men. Women are more likely to be stalked by men. What we don’t know is anything about their former relationship. We don’t know if it started as romantic or if it’s homophobic. We don;t know where it comes from, and that’s what we’d really like to know. We don’t know anything about the trans or intersex communities at all.

When we talk about stalking it’s often linked to violence, or escalates to violence. Are their key things that let us know when that behaviour is moving in that direction?

The people who are most likely to be violent, the stalker’s most likely to be violent, not exclusively, but they are normally the people that the victim has had a relationship with. Usually you will see trigger and warning signs. We’ll see close monitoring while the relationship was intact and we will see basically jealousy signs.

But these are the times of cases where people will say ‘Oh, your so lucky to have that kind of attention, wish I had that kind of attention,” because stalkers are often very attractive, well educated with a high economic social status. They’re not like normal criminals. These are the cases that are most likely to resolve in murder.

High status, decent individuals, stalking an ex, they’re the ones most likely to lead to the death of the victim.

If someone feels  that they are being stalked, what should they do? What actions should you take?

Record everything, no matter how innocuous it seems, because sometimes you can have a bit of a job convincing the authorities that this is a serious incident. You have demonstrate that lots of little things are adding up. Sometimes two plus two, plus two, plus two, ends up at one hundred and two. You’ve got to demonstrate these things adding up. You have to re-create a course of conduct that would give a reasonable person fear and then get straight to the police and keep recording, recording recording!

Keep stuff that you’re being sent, no matter how horrible or distasteful it may be. Keep a hold of it, keep a record always.

How can people get involved in your research?

We’ve got a questionnaire online, so it doesn’t cost people anything to come and see us, you can do it in the privacy of your own home.  We’re looking at people’s experiences, but also what they think of various harassing behaviours. We’re interested in what people think is acceptable. We’re doing it in twelve different countries as well.

We’re already seeing that the experiences that people have are quite similar and are pretty constant between countries. We’ve had results from Egypt, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Finland, Japan, Indonesia and Italy. The experiences are pretty constant between countries but people’s judgments about what is acceptable vary radically.

You find in countries where it’s a lot more normal, particularly for women, to be routinely sexually assaulted – or treated in a submissive manner – these countries tend to be more accepting of the behavior.

The survey is open to everyone and takes between 10-15 minutes to complete.

General Discussion Law / Domestic Violence Statistics and Facts
« Last post by Mary-Jane on February 18, 2018, 03:00:49 PM »
Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Statistics and Facts

Definition: Domestic violence involves violence or abuse by one person against another in a familial or intimate relationship.

Domestic violence is most commonly thought of as intimate partner violence, but can also include violence or abuse from a family member.


The term “intimate partner violence” includes the following acts as inflicted or caused by a current or former intimate partner:

1. Actual or threats of physical violence
2. Actual or threats of sexual violence
3. Emotional or psychological abuse (e.g., name calling or putdowns, threats to “out” a person’s sexual orientation to family, work or friends)
4. Stalking (e.g., excessive calls/texts/emails, monitoring daily activities, using technology to track a person’s location)
5. Financial abuse (e.g., withholding money, ruining credit, stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job)
6. Threats to “out” a person’s sexual orientation to family, work or friends

Intimate partners can include:

    Current or former spouses
    Boyfriends or girlfriends
    Dating partners
    Sexual partners

Domestic violence can occur in heterosexual and same-sex relationships.

Statistics and Facts: National Domestic Violence Statistics

1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2017)
1 in 10 women in the United States will be raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime. (CDC, 2010)
Approximately 16.9% of women and 8.0% of men will experience sexual violence other than rape by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. (CDC, 2010)
Data on sexual violence against men may be underreported.

An estimated 9.7% of women and 2.3% of men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime. (CDC, 2017)
Nearly half of all women and men in the United States will experience psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2017)
Over half of female and male victims of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before 25 years of age. (CDC, 2010)

Domestic Violence Experienced by Race/Ethnicity

Almost half (47.5%) of American Indian/Alaska Native women, 45.1% of non-Hispanic Black women, 37.3% of non-Hispanic White women, 34.4% of Hispanic women, and 18.3% of Asian-Pacific Islander women experience contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2017)

Domestic Violence and Sexual Orientation

2 in 5 lesbian women, 3 in 5 bisexual women, and 1 in 3 heterosexual women will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2010)
1 in 4 gay men, 1 in 3 bisexual men, and 3 in 10 heterosexual men will experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner
in their lifetime. (CDC, 2010)

Domestic Violence in New York City

Intimate partner homicide accounts for over half of all NYC family-related homicides. (NYC DV Fatality Review Committee, 2016)
The New York City Police Department responds to approximately 230,000 domestic incidents each year. (NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence)

Grindr security flaw has potential stalking implications for Australians

A security flaw found in Grindr, that led to serious issues of violence and harassment overseas recently, has potential implications for Australian men who use the app, according to a Curtin University researcher.

A PERTH university researcher has commissioned a study into the high rates of stalking within the LGBTI community, which comes in light of recent news of security flaws found in a popular hook-up phone app.

Based on anecdotal evidence, the study by Curtin University senior lecturer Dr Lorraine Sheridan will examine the apparent higher-than-average rates of harassment and stalking experienced by LGBTI people.

Dr Sheridan has been researching issues surrounding stalking and has campaigned for survivor rights for 18 years. Her work, which has appeared in over 50 scientific papers, on stalking has also been influential in informing change within federal laws.

The Curtin University research comes on the heels of recent news from SBS2’s The Feed about a security flaw found within the popular gay hook-up/dating phone app, Grindr, which led to several serious cases of stalking and harassment in Russia.

Grindr has over 500 million users in almost 200 countries, many of which still have varying views on homosexuality that has resulted in wide-spread violence and discrimination.

Apps like Grindr are reportedly popular within these countries as it can provide a much more discreet means to meet other gay men, instead of public spaces.

A security flaw was revealed recently where accessing Grindr’s servers from three different places and triangulating the information could extrapolate specific data of a user’s location. The data was said to be so precise, it could pinpoint where a user was within their house.

In Russia, 2311 users were found, making them vulnerable to the country’s infamous “gay propaganda” legislation and homophobic violence. In Iran, where the death penalty is enforced, 349 men were identified.

On September 5, Grindr’s blog explained that the company was taking measures to keep its users safe in places prone to violence against the gay community.

The “show distance” function has been completely removed in certain regions according to messages now published within the app.

In a country like Australia where gay and bisexual men who use the app are fortunate to not have to worry about law enforcement crackdown, security flaws within the cyber world could still be a potential problem, according to Dr Sheridan.

“Phones are probably the most important tool that a stalker has… Phones can be used to send messages, speak to victims, track victims, etc,” Dr Sheridan told the Star Observer.

Cyber harassment was very common in results from a study of 1051 self-defined stalking victims conducted by Dr Sheridan two years ago in Australia, the UK and the USA.

“Almost half (47.5 per cent) reported harassment via the internet, but only 7.2 per cent of the sample was judged to have been cyberstalked,” Dr Sheridan said.

“A majority of cases that started online then moved into the physical world. Almost 90% had been bothered via phones. The study set out to examine whether cyberstalking represents a distinct form of stalking, or is simply one more invasive technique available to the stalker.

“Overall, the findings provided a picture more of similarity between stalking cases that range from purely on-line to exclusively off-line, than of marked difference. So, we concluded that cyberstalking is a question of degree, rather than a distinct form of contact.”

While the very nature of offline stalking and harassment made physical assaults and abuse more common, verbal abuse was common in the cyber world.

“Physical violence was more common in the purely offline group but stalking that began online frequently led to physical violence and vandalism. Verbal abuse occurred in a majority of cases,” Dr Sheridan said.

“In terms of effects on the victim, offline stalking was associated more with changes to the victim’s social and employment spheres, while online stalking was more strongly associated with loss of family and friends.

“Perhaps the most important finding in terms of effects on victims was that levels of all medical and psychological effects, and most social and financial effects did not differ significantly according to degree of cyber involvement.”

According to Dr Sheridan, disabled people were over-represented as online stalking victims.

“In the current work, disabled persons were over-represented as the victims of online stalkers, and it is possible that the disabled can yield heightened benefits from using the internet to order and arrange various services,” she said.

The Curtin study — which is now available online — is seeking LGBTI people along with the heterosexual community, to complete a survey that aims to increase understanding of harassment, how it’s viewed and experienced and further inform support and investigative services.

“We did some work on male rape in London and found that gay men who had been assaulted has particular needs that were not being met,” Dr Sheridan said.

“Maybe this work could also identify that stalking victims in the LGBTIQ community mate have particular needs that service providers need to know about.”

Hall of Shame / Salvation Army reject vulnerable transgender people
« Last post by Mary-Jane on February 16, 2018, 01:06:32 PM »
Salvation Army rehab centre faces charges for rejecting vulnerable transgender people

By Nick Duffy 14th July 2017, 8:38 PM #PinkNews #CurrentAffairs

A substance abuse center that refused to serve transgender people is one of four facing action in New York over discriminatory policies.

The NYC Commission on Human Rights this week filed four complaints against substance abuse centers across the City for discriminatory policies involving the intake of transgender patients. 

The complaints, filed on behalf of the City, come after the Commission investigated reports of discrimination from advocates.

Following tips from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, the Commission began testing substance abuse centers for discriminatory practices.

The Commission’s testers approached more than a dozen substance abuse centers citywide to inquire whether the centers accepted transgender patients for treatment and where those patients would be housed.

The Commission found that one center outright refused to accept transgender patients, telling a Commission tester that “no, we don’t [accept transgender patients].”

Representatives at other centers told Commission testers that transgender women would be housed according to their gender assigned at birth, in violation of gender identity protections under the NYC Human Rights Law.

One representative said that “people with moving male parts would be housed with men,” while another said “it depends on how far along the person is in the process.” Representatives also said that they perform physical examinations on transgender patients to determine whether they are on hormone medication or have had surgery.

It has been illegal in New York City to discriminate against individuals based on their gender identity since 2002, when the New York City Council passed legislation to include gender identity as a protected class under the NYC Human Rights Law.

The rehab centres could face fines of up to $250,000 over discriminatory practises.

Noah Lewis of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund had made the tip, after hearing of transgender people being turned away from the centers.

He said: “People seeking drug treatment are being turned away simply because they’re transgender. That’s unacceptable.

“Transgender people are disproportionately discriminated against in their daily lives, at their jobs, in restaurants, and on the street. Enough is enough. No one seeking treatment for drug use should be met with discrimination or harassment, and I’m glad the Commission is taking action so that people seeking treatment can get the help they need.”

The centers include Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (Brooklyn), Addicts Rehabilitation Center (Manhattan), Promesa Residential Health Care Facility (Bronx), and the Thomas and Marie White Health Center (Queens).

The Commission’s complaints, filed by its Law Enforcement Bureau, charge the centers with gender identity discrimination for refusing to accept transgender patients and for discriminatory housing policies, including assigning rooms based on a patient’s gender assigned at birth rather than their gender identity, subjecting patients to physical examinations, and forcing transgender patients into separate rooms.

The substance abuse centers involved in these investigations have been notified of the alleged violations and the Commission continues the investigations.

New York’s First Lady Chirlane McCray, who leads the city’s mental health and substance misuse efforts, said: “The last thing New Yorkers battling addiction, depression, or any mental health challenges need is discrimination and harassment at the door.

“Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity when receiving health services, just like anyone else. I am proud to live in a city that fights for transgender rights and look forward to further strengthening anti-discrimination protections for all New Yorkers.”

The  Deputy Commissioner of the Law Enforcement Bureau at the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Hollis V. Pfitsch. said: “At a time when the federal government is rolling back LGBTQ protections, New York City is doubling down on its efforts to make sure everyone is treated equally and with respect.

“Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have been targets of bias and discrimination for far too long. The Commission fights to protect every person regardless of their gender identity in New York City and will hold accountable anyone who discriminates against another person for being who they are. In New York City, everyone has the right to be themselves without hatred, violence, or discrimination.”

NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said: “New York City welcomes all genders, gender identities, and gender expression — this includes health care facilities.

“I applaud the Commission on Human Rights’ efforts to redress these facilities and ensure that those who need help can get it without being discriminated against.”

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