by Kenny Priestley

Content warning: article mentions abuse and domestic violence

This is an article submitted in response to Flashmob Dancers Demand an End to Violence Against Women. 

The term domestic violence, for most of us brings to mind the image of a woman being beaten or in some way abused by a man. Rarely do we stop to think that domestic violence is also a crime committed against men.  The unfortunate truth is that both sexes can be abusive and violent and even murderous toward each other.

Despite it being a fact that men also suffer domestic violence at the hands of women, it seems that this is a taboo subject. Even a search of the internet will reveal little, in comparison to a similar search regarding woman as the victims of domestic violence. When stories of the abuse of men by women are found the numbers of men that are subject to domestic violence vary wildly from site to site and report to report. The one thing that does stand out among these figures is that when abuse committed against men by women is found, the numbers of men being abused is often quoted as being lower on the sites that are almost exclusively for women, as opposed to the sites for male sufferers of domestic violence.

During the period 2014 to 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics 2.8 percent of men reported suffering  domestic violence at the hand of a partner –  that’s half a million! Parity reports the figure for the same period as being lower, whilst Refuge reported it being almost twice the figure for the same period of time.

phrases like ‘Man up’, ‘Be a man’, ‘grow a pair’.

At first the discrepancies in these figures seem a little odd, why would they all be so different? Maybe it is because of the culture of men and the way that even today in the 21st Century men are expected to be the ‘stronger sex’. We often hear phrases like ‘Man up’, ‘Be a man’, ‘grow a pair’. There is also of course a difference in the way in which each organisation collect data. The ONS collect data from both surveys and official figures, whilst the charities mentioned will collect both their own data and also use that of official sources. Obviously men’s DV help resources will hear predominantly from men it isn’t very likely that a man would approach a women’s charity for help when suffering abuse at the hands of a female partner, just as you wouldn’t expect a woman to approach a charity that was set up for the abuse of men.  

(via 99percentcampaign (CC; Flickr))

In 2010 a report was produced by the men’s issues campaign group Parity, who claimed that a staggering 40% of victims of DV are men. Yet at the time of writing this article  there are only 18 safe-houses (CW: video contains graphic imagery) in the UK for men suffering DV issues. Whilst in January 2017 it was reported by the Independent that Sunderland could become the only city in the UK not to have a shelter for female victims of DV.

It seems to be the case that men are far less more likely to either talk about or to report the abuse that they receive from female partners, be that physical abuse or mental.  Who could blame them – men who dare to talk about abuse from female partners are often seen as weak, not believed, and  are often ridiculed. It has been instilled in men over centuries that they are strong and that they don’t share feelings, instead they bury them, they cope and they go about their lives uncomplaining – which of course means that it is rarely brought to the attention of the public except when it is so extreme that a life is lost.

There is help for male victims of domestic violence, albeit seemingly very limited in comparison with the help available for women that suffer at the hands of a partner.  Until attitudes of people change, and in particular men’s attitudes about admitting that there are problems, there will be little help for men and they will continue to suffer in silence (for the majority at least). 

Why are they not offering the same advice to men, after all isn’t domestic violence still violence, no matter which gender commits it?

It is also a problem that could be helped if it were taken more seriously by organisations that offer shelter by way of refuge to women. After I visited the internet site of a well-known refuge site that provides accommodation for women I noticed the following. This site acknowledged that men can be victims too; however, I was prompted to wonder just how seriously they take the problem of men being abused by women when I came across two links on their site. Under the title ‘About Domestic Abuse’ the first link ‘For Men’ clicking on this takes you to a page with two further links ‘I’m an abuser – what can I do to change?’ and ‘it’s not only women – I’m being abused’. Upon reading this I thought that maybe there was hope. Unfortunately upon clicking the ‘For Women’ the first thing I noticed was that there was no ‘I am an abuser….’  link,why not? There was however a big list of other links offering advice on subjects such as contact; the contact link was the first on the page and gives advice to not let a man have access to his children if he has been violent, to go and see a solicitor, etc. Why are they not offering the same advice to men, after all isn’t domestic violence still violence, no matter which gender commits it?

Men need help too.

If you are a man that need help the men’s group ManKind still run a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and will continue to do so until the end of 2017, after which it may have to discontinue this service due to lack of funds. They can be contacted on 01823 334244.

Featured image via Wikimedia (Public Domain license); original source dvidshub

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