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Cochrane Times - October 15, 2003

It’s not easy being male. Speaker tells Cochrane group men face significant challenges

Samara Cygman

 — Victims of sexual abuse. Victims of domestic violence. Victims of spousal alienation.

These terms often conjure up images of battered women, but that is not always the case.

Men too, feel the brunt of these onslaughts, says Paul Millar, vice-president of the Men’s Educational Support Association.

Millar was speaking Oct. 10 to a group of about 20 Cochrane Ideas Society members -- a casual gathering of open minds and ideas.

The group meets over coffee and tea on the second Friday of every month to embark on philosophical discussions or even just talk about a good book they’re reading.

On this particular Friday, they were huddled around an overhead presentation about issues like custody, access, child support, false allegations, parental alienation, reproductive fraud and domestic violence in relation to the non-custodial parent.

Millar started off by explaining that, while his organization caters mostly to men, they do have some women in the group.

He assured them their organization is not made up of woman-haters and he has seen his fair share of misbehaving men.

“There is a lot of male misbehaving in the area of child custody and support,” said Millar. “Just keep that in mind.”

According to Millar, the courts are mostly in favour of women in custody battles. He said nine times out of ten, women are awarded custody of their children.

“You are more likely, as a woman, to get your kids in court. The courts don’t award things in an even way,” said Millar.

So by default, most men are facing access issues.

“They are really going through the wringer, trying to see their kids,” said Millar.

The problem with access is it’s very easy to disrupt and no one is around to witness it.

Mothers may not show up with the children to the pre-arranged meeting place. She could say the children are sick or she could leave if the father isn’t there right on time.

“It happens privately and no one is there to witness it,” said Millar.

Men are also sometimes subject to parental alienation, when one parent systematically cuts down the other.

“It’s the symbolic destruction of the other parent and it’s fairly easy to do because frankly, divorces are bitter,” said Millar.

Domestic violence is typically something that men don’t report when they experience it and therefore find it hard to handle.

“This is an issue for men too and it’s typically difficult for them to deal with,” said Millar.

If you would like Millar to speak at your function or for more information about MESA or the services they offer, check out the web site at www.mesacanada.com

The Cochrane Ideas Society will be meeting Nov. 14 at the Anglican Parish of All Saints at 7 p.m. to listen to Alberta Wildfire Officer, Rick Arthur, give a presentation called 2003 -- Bad Year to be a Tree.