Dave is a 45-year-old gardener who comes in at just under six foot tall. When most people think of a domestic violence victim, Dave is not the person who comes to mind. But sadly he is a victim – suffering two years of abuse from his girlfriend who, during one attack, smashed a bottle over his head, leaving him bleeding on the pavement and permanently scarred.
Dave slept in his car for weeks before getting up the courage to go to the local authorities. The council managed to find him a place at a men’s refuge, but Dave admits that getting help was a very emotional process: “As a man, it’s very difficult to say you’ve been beaten up. It seems like you’re the big brute and she’s the daffodil, but sometimes it’s not like that.”
The refuge Dave is staying at has two new requests every day, but currently they are full and unable to take anyone else in. One in three victims of domestic abuse in the UK are male, but the amount of refuge beds for men is worryingly scarce. Currently there are only 78 spaces which can be allocated to men, 33 of these are dedicated to males while the rest can be occupied by either gender. In comparison, there are around 4,000 spaces for women. In Scotland and Northern Ireland there are no refuges for men at all.
According to the latest British Crime Survey, last year more married men were reported to have suffered from domestic abuse than married women; despite this, finding help is still more difficult for men than it is for women.
Chairman of the men’s domestic abuse charity, the Mankind Initiative, Mark Brooks said: “Support services for male victims remain decades behind those for women. This is not helped by the Government and others having a violence against women and girls strategy without having an equivalent for men. Everybody sees domestic violence victims as being female rather than male. This is one of Britain’s last great taboos.”
The helpline from the Mankind Initiative receives 1,200 calls every year from men or friends/family of men calling on their behalf. A fear of not being believed among other factors mean men are much less likely to report a domestic abuse situation. The British Crime Survey revealed that only 10% of male victims had talked to authorities, compared to 29% of women.
The human cost of this problem makes for worrying reading – In 2010/11 a staggering 21 men were murdered by a partner or former partner.
If you have suffered from any form of abuse, speaking to a counsellor could help you deal with what happened and help you get your life back on track. For more information and to find a counsellor dealing with abuse, please see our Abuse page.
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