If the title of this post made you roll your eyes and made you think, ‘here we go another men’s rights group’. Only then I suggest that you read on.
A journey has started here in Adelaide, South Australia. A journey that is challenging but very hopeful. Aaron Merritt and James Somerville, both Support Workers in the community are out to make awareness for a very unique cause. Male’s victimised in Domestic Violence (DV). Aaron himself came to realisation when he was that victim. He was one of very few men that went to seek help, advice and support from services. Instead of being assisted he felt more isolated, and even at times he was made to feel he was the perpetrator. One of his only real supports was his friend James.
With both men having careers in the community sector, they are always looking out for gaps in the system. However they never realised it would have been a personal issue that assisted them to fall straight through that Gap. They stated, “We noticed a major gap in government funding for men in DV situations.” They had a point when they spoke about the amazing support women have on the sensitive issue. So both Aaron and James put their heads together to do something about it. So they created awareness through what they are calling “Beards Out.”
Beards Out wants to bring enough awareness to the community to help change the legislation on DV. To become an organisation where men can feel safe and have somewhere to go. Although they feel very strongly and predominately want to focus on men in these situations, they don’t want to single anyone out. There first task is making awareness and raising money for them to have the resources to complete their vision. All while doing that, they also want to make everyone aware this is not some other Men’s rights group. Once greatly established anyone who becomes a victim; men, women, gay or straight. They will be there for them for guidance and support. I had a chance to ask them some questions. They are as follows:
How Did You Come Up With The Idea?
“Due to personal circumstances for Aaron, we noticed a major gap in government funding when it comes to funding for men in domestic violence situations. There is funding available to support women who are victims of domestic violence, but there isn’t anything available for men. This also includes the gay and lesbian community.”
What Is The Main Aim Of The Idea?
“Beard’s Out was born to see change in the legislation. It is imperative that we see change to government legislation so we can see help and support implemented to all victims of domestic violence.”
What Is Being Offered By Beards Out?
“Once making enough awareness and raising the funds needed. What we would like to offer are safe places throughout South Australia to all victims who are in need of support. The problem is that a lot of men don’t know how to get support. It’s a cliché subject for men because men do not want to admit that they have been victimised. We need to help men speak up so they can seek support. 77% of suicide victims that have taken their own life are men. Most cases who don’t know how, or feel like they can’t get help. But then where would they go? We want to raise awareness for this and show men that it is ok to ask for help, that they aren’t any less of a person because they have been victimised. We want to help not just men, but women, gay or straight. It doesn’t matter. Everyone is equal in seeking help when they need it. The help doesn’t just extend to the victims, but to the perpetrators, that ask for help so they can better themselves and not have a repeat occurrence.”
Where Do You See Beards Out In Five Years?
“One word, ‘National.’ After fully establishing here in South Australia, we aim to start Beard’s Out and show South Australia that we are here to support. During the first 5 years, we intend on branching to every state of Australia. This isn’t just something that is affecting South Australia. It affects all of Australia, so much so that we can justify saying it affects the world. This is a very large problem across the entire planet. Will we go global? And of course, if there are countries that are being affected with this same problem, then yes we will branch out and we will do what it takes to battle this hidden epidemic.”
What Are The Struggles Of Becoming Another “Making Awareness” Group?
“I think you’ve answered your own question their Phil. The brand, who we are, what we are and who we intend to help. Fresh name, fresh face, fresh ideas, which all can be potentially controversial. These are the things we will battle. Yes, we are new and the idea is fresh. It’s different because we are starting to have a voice for men in these situations, while not singling any gender or sexuality out. Because it is such a taboo subject, people don’t see it. People don’t realise the extent of how much damage is being caused by this hidden epidemic. As we continue to grow, the brand will become better known. Beard’s Out was born because we were looking at ways to get help for Aaron for when he needed it the most. Aaron was treated horribly in response to what took place. They simply didn’t know that Aaron was the victim, just assumed he was the perpetrator. This is when we noticed the lack of support that men had in this situation. We saw an opening and we’ve grabbed it by the beard as we like to say. Grabbing it by the beard shows it’s in your face and on your face.”
How Many People Are On The Band Wagon To Help Get The Awareness Out There?
“Right now we have Aaron and James as the co-founders. During the last month while getting to know people outside of our world, we have taken on board 5 other volunteers who will stand by us and help build our brand. This includes 2 males and 3 females, who all bring something different to the table. It has been a very exciting process for us, while we have continued to build Beard’s Out and the things we aim to achieve. We will always be looking for volunteers to help fundraise while making awareness.”
What Can We Do As A Community To Support this Cause?
“Right now donations play an integral role in helping build Beard’s Out. Right now we are in the infancy stage of what Beard’s Out will become. Currently we are attending AFL games in Adelaide to reach out and talk about this issue, while collecting donations. Also, If you feel you can help support Beard’s Out, whether it be a monetary donation or by offering support as a volunteer, please contact us at the Beards Out Facebook Page
Is There Any Particular Comments You Like To Make?
“Phil, thank you for your support. We certainly appreciate the time you have given us. I cannot begin to explain the enormity of this issue. It’s a serious issue that we really need to see change. Help us bring this to the forefront, so we can see real change take place across Australia. We take pride of our Beards being in your face and on your face too. Cheers!”
While talking to these guys, it was clear that they are very passionate about starting something truly amazing. They realise the work that’s a head of them, but will keep going until all genders and sexualities have somewhere to go for assistance in a time of crisis. What a true inspiration and I wish nothing but good things for Beards Out as they set on their journey to accomplish their dreams. As they say at Beards Out, ‘In your face’ and ‘On Your Face”
Let’s hear what your thoughts are about this topic.