Huge rise in men suffering from domestic abuse

Options (Impact Family Services) 
From left Julie Robinson, Adele Hall, Emma Smith and Christopher Valente

Options (Impact Family Services) From left Julie Robinson, Adele Hall, Emma Smith and Christopher Valente

The number of South Tyneside men seeking support after being subjected to physical or emotional abuse by partners has doubled in the past three years.

Recent figures from domestic abuse charity Options - run by Impact Family Services - reveal the number of referrals has doubled since it launched a service dedicated to male victims in 2013.

For a lot of men pride stops them seeking help

Chris Valente

In it’s first year there were 54 referrals made for support and advice from police and other agencies on behalf of victims, but so far this year there has already been 92.

The branch is led by Chris Valente and was the first its kind launched in South Tyneside to reach out to men living in fear of their partners or other family members.

Up until then, men needing advice and support had to turn to agencies outside the borough.

Mr Valente said: “Since I started with the service three years ago, referrals for males have doubled and the level of engagement has risen 300%.

“The number may not seem large but as male victim support is 30 years behind that of victim support for women, this is a good start in raising awareness and making male victims aware of the support there is out there.”

He added: “There are many reasons why men do not come forward to disclose abuse, but having a male on the other side has been the reason male service users have engaged from the feedback I have had.

“In my opinion we need to move on from the past mind-set of what society thought domestic violence/abuse was. It is not straightforward, there are a lot of different dynamics and situations.

“Within the male support service I have supported son’s being abused – physically or emotionally – by father’s and vice versa, same sex relationships involving two males – or females – also brother’s who have been or are being abused by other family members.

“In today’s world where appearance and pride means a lot, for a lot of males, it can also be an added hurdle to asking for help/support. The psychological side of thinking is also a barrier to support, if a male doesn’t believe males can be victims he will never identify as one, and therefore never seek help.

“I am the first to admit that there is a massive difference in statistics of females being abused then males, but this does not mean it is not happening.”

Since the service was launched, in it’s first year there were 54 referrals made for support and advice from police and other agencies on behalf of victims - of those six went on to accept support. So far this year, it has doubled to 92 - with 18 people engaging with the service.

One man who suffered at the hands of his abusive partner who sought help from Options was given the support he needed to create a new life.

The 46-year-old came to the attention of the charity following police intervention after he was attacked by his partner who had locked him out of the family home.

He said: “It happened quite a lot. I’d go to work and come home and I’d be locked out. They’d be men leaving from the house. I knew she wasn’t faithful to me, but she was my first love and I was completely torn. I just kept hoping she’d change.

“I found it hard. The whole thing left me feeling ashamed and somehow less of a man.”

After seeking the support of Options, he managed to contact members of his family and explained the situation he was in.

He has since moved out of South Tyneside and is now running a small business.

Project manager at Options, Julie Robinson said: “Seeking help and support as a victim of domestic abuse can be terrifying, but for a man it feels to them that it’s not just an attack on them but on male pride too.

“Some men are also in denial, as if they can’t believe it is happening to them.

“If any man is suffering from domestic abuse, we would strongly advise them to contact Options. They will be put in touch with our dedicated support worker, who will listen to what they have to say in a non-judgmental way.

“Whether a victim of domestic abuse is male or female, they both deserve exactly the same level of help and support.”

Fundraising campaign launched

Last week, Impact Family Services launched it’s Creating A Home campaign.

It costs £8,000 a year to run the project which relies heavily on donations of cash and good quality second hand furniture.

The scheme, launched two years ago, helps to give those who escape their abusive partners the chance to start a new life and create a safe home for them and their children.

With funds raised from the 16-day campaign, the charity will be able to buy essential household furniture including white goods, pay for emergency accommodation and provide funds for essential removal costs.

To donate visit www.mydonate.bt.com/charities/impactfamilyservices or visit www.impactfs.co.uk and use the donate button.

Anyone suffering at domestic abuse at the hands of their partners or family members can seek help:

Options (Impact Family Services): For women who are suffering domestic abuse - 0191 456 7577. Out of hours 07921 395508 or 07545 08671.

Mens Advice Line: For men who are suffering domestic abuse - 0808 801 0327.

Northumbria Police Choice Helpline: For those suffering honour based violence - 0800 5999 365

Broken Rainbow - Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are victims of domestic abuse - 0300 999 5428

Young Person Violence Advisor - for those aged 13-17 who are in an abusive relationship - 0191 427 2850.

Apna Ghar - for women from the ethnic minority suffering from domestic abuse - 0191 456 4147.