Domestic abuse can affect anyone in any walk of life, age bracket, salary band or gender. According to statistics released in 2018* by ManKind, an organisation that provides support to male victims of domestic violence, one in six or seven men will suffer from domestic abuse sometime during their lifetime. For every three victims of domestic abuse, including instances where force is involved, two will be female and one male.
Seeking expert help from as early a stage as possible is very important. Medical intervention may be necessary, as well as practical support with maintaining access to children or retrieving personal belongings from the home if the need to move out for self-preservation arises. Just as women who suffer abuse are entitled to expect empathy, patience and practical support from those to whom they turn for help, so too should men in the same position anticipate the same reaction. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.
The scope of the problem
The average male victim who calls ManKind for support or advice is around 43 years of age. Yet 50% of those who phone in say that they have never spoken to anyone before about the abuse they have experienced and 71% said they wouldn’t have called ManKind if the helpline didn’t allow them to be anonymous.
This is indicative of the main issue surrounding male domestic violence – the stigma and embarrassment that still exists for many men who find it hard to admit to being on the receiving end of violence or abuse in a domestic setting. Especially if the perpetrator is female, or smaller or younger than them. Other concerns stopping men from contacting organisations like ManKind centre around jeopardising future access to children, causing problems with their career and fears that the violence will escalate if anyone finds out about it.
First thing’s first…
Domestic abuse can come in all kinds of forms, from physical violence in the home to revenge porn online. Men who are brave enough to speak up need to know that they can receive support, both emotionally and practically as they face the issues and decide what to do next. The first step, however, is to make sure you get yourself out of any immediate danger, as well as any vulnerable dependents who may be involved.
Next, seek professional medical help to treat any injuries and to act as the first port of call for ongoing advice and support. The police will need to be involved if you wish to formally report the abuse or identify an attack as a crime needing to be brought to trial. If you feel things starting to spiral out of control, The Samaritans offer a non-judgemental, confidential listening and support service for anyone in emotional distress.
Once you are safely out of harm’s way and have started to think about what you want to do next, speaking to a solicitor that specialises in family law and, if possible, male domestic abuse, is key. If the abuse has happened within a romantic relationship, all associated ties will need to be dissembled officially, whether they include divorce, the dissolution of a civil partnership or the ending of a rental contract or joint business arrangement.
There will be many other issues to discuss with your solicitor too, including ongoing residential and holiday arrangements for any children, as well as what to do with profits from selling property, vehicles or any other assets from the partnership.
All of this can be difficult to handle emotionally, which is why a legal expert is crucial to help you see your way through and to represent you in court or wherever else might be necessary. Of course, if criminal proceedings are involved, specialist legal support will also be crucial to allow you to put your side of the story across and ensure a professional representation of your case.
The Samaritans: www.samaritans.org.
* Source: https://www.mankind.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/35-Key-Facts-Male-Victims-March-2018.pdf