Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Lifestyle Domestic Abuse: Raising Awareness of Male Victims

Domestic Abuse: Raising Awareness of Male Victims

An Exeposé Contributor details his own experience of domestic abuse and, in doing so, raises awareness of other men - who too often suffer in silence.
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Domestic Abuse: Raising Awareness of Male Victims

An Exeposé Contributor details his own experience of domestic abuse and, in doing so, raises awareness of other men – who too often feel they have to suffer in silence.

More often than not when these sorts of articles are published, for all to see, read, process and consider, they tend to be from the perspective of female domestic abuse victims. This one is different.

Between March 2018 and March 2019, 786,000 men were domestically abused by a partner in the UK, according to government statistics and between 2017 and 2018, nearly half of male domestic abuse victims failed to come forward and tell anyone. 49% of men feel they are unable to tell anyone, compared to 19%of women. Why? It is an issue I have thought long and hard about, something I have put down to a number of factors. For example, it doesn’t fit the ‘societal norms’ for a man to speak out when they are struggling in any regard and for me certainly, it felt like I would either not be believed or laughed out of town for daring to open up and speak about it.

And yet still, despite feeling empowered enough to tell my story, I still cannot make that final step to putting my name to it, for fear of my abuser ‘coming after me,’ as well as the fear of how people may react to what I’ve been through. There are people who have been and will be in far worse situations than myself and I am fortunate enough that I seem to have finally freed myself from the torment. However, that fear and that despair at the situation I found myself in still remains. Those scars will be there for some time.

…for me certainly, it felt like I would either not be believed or laughed out of town for daring to open up and speak about it.

Speaking strictly of my own personal experience, I am fortunate now to be on the road to recovery, in a far better place mentally and psychologically than I have been for the previous two years. My relationship lasted off and on for ten months, with those last few months being a process of finally starting to realise what was going on and breaking free.

I was advised by a professional that I had been subjected to ‘low-level domestic abuse, namely psychological abuse and coercive control.’ Mid-level would imply a threat of physical violence, with high-level implying a state of abuse where the professional felt life was potentially at risk. My abuser was significantly older than myself, drawing on the naivety of a young individual entering into their first relationship of any meaningful note.

To summarise briefly my own experience, I found out that my abuser had been committing infidelity behind my back, whilst negatively speaking about my whole self, my physical appearance, weight and personality, even to the extent of telling me my voice sounded ‘gay.’ This continued, with the abuser falsely threatening suicide or claiming pregnancy to try and haul me in, trying everything she could to regain control of a situation she enjoyed, perhaps even relished. In essence, breaking down every element of myself so she could rebuild me how she wanted. She as much as stated this on multiple occasions, that she enjoyed my inexperience as it meant I could be moulded into whatever she wanted me to be.

In the brief periods I broke free, I would be bombarded with attempted contacts from multiple accounts and numbers through multiple mediums in a desperate attempt to contact me and pull me back in, threatening to turn up on my doorstep or ‘reveal’ false information in an attempt to try and pull me back in through a campaign of fear. When I finally plucked up the courage to speak to the police, they were sympathetic to what I had gone through, going around to the women’s house to serve her a First Instance Harassment Warning. This still did not dissuade her attempts however, although much to my frustration, nothing further came, in part due to my inward fear of taking the matter further and having to speak out from the low ebb I was at.

I am not attacking the police response to this particular incident in any way, as I feel they carried out their job with due diligence and care, more so I am seeking to highlight the difference in the system and justice served out to female abusers in comparison to their male counterparts, when this abhorrent act, regardless of the gender of the abuser and victim, should be treated in exactly the same manner.

In my road to recovery, I attended counselling sessions, specifically aimed at male domestic abuse victims. I feel the need to break the stigma as I found it very hard to compute the word ‘victim’ to myself. Wording such as ‘survivor’ also made me feel the same way. In truth, whilst I am significantly on the path to recovery, I am still wary and not fully healed, the likely reasoning as to why I struggle to compute either of those words.

Whilst it may not be the comprehensive picture of the system, it feels very much to myself that the judicial system in this regard is gendered, sexist if you will, with male parties as victims far less likely to receive the justice of seeing their abuser substantially punished by law than female parties and far less likely to come forward. It is true that women are more likely to be domestically abused than men, (1.6 million women were abused last year in the United Kingdom, in comparison to 786,000 men,) a rough approximate ratio of 2:1. This clearly shows that there is far less discrepancy in the numbers of men and women being abused each year than media and reporting would have you believe. Cases of domestic abuse, once reported and with the agreement of the victim, if deemed serious enough, will then be debated at a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC,) which then discusses the risk to the victim and steps to put in place to protect the victim. In Devon and Cornwall in the year ending March 2018, just 5% of MARAC referred cases concerned male domestic abuse victims. If a ratio of female to male domestic abuse victims stands at 2:1, why are so few cases of male victims referred to MARAC’s? In fact regionally, the City of London was the only area where that 2:1 ratio was even close to being met, as 40% of their MARAC’s in the year ending March 2018 concerned male victims. To place this into context, the next highest region was Sussex where 13% of MARAC’s concerned male victims.

Male voices are understandably scared to come forward, for fear of not being believed or told, ‘man up’ and to ‘deal with it.’ It is about time that changed.

The reasoning for this huge discrepancy in numbers is something I would like to seek clarity on, whilst also pushing to make sure both male and female abuse victims feel they are treated in the same way and, more importantly, male and female abusers receive the same treatment in the enquiry into and potential charging for their crime.

Male voices are understandably scared to come forward, for fear of not being believed or told, ‘man up’ and to ‘deal with it.’ It is about time that changed. Abuse in any form from any person to another is an abhorrent crime. Domestic abuse is not something as simple as a purely gendered crime. It is about time that the voices of male survivors are now heard and respected in greater numbers.

By writing this article, I am not trying to say that ‘men are greater victims than women,’ nor am I in any way attempting to play a victim card myself. Put simply, domestic abuse and coercive control from anybody towards anybody is abhorrent in all forms. In putting this article to the outside world, I am simply attempting to raise awareness and create a dialogue. More certainly needs to be done to combat this issue but nothing will ever be done unless those of us that have been through such experiences start to and continue to speak up.

Useful Organisations:

SAFE: https://www.safe-services.org.uk/

Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/

ManKind: https://www.mankind.org.uk/

Men’s Advice Line: www.mensadviceline.org.uk

National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (Open 24 hours a day)

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