Abuse victims urged to get help
DOMESTIC abuse agencies are urging male victims in North Somerset to come forward as they fear many men are failing to get the help they need.
For years the vast majority of people suffering from domestic abuse were believed to be women, but agencies and charities are now seeing an increasing number of male victims.
Over the past 12 months in North Somerset, more than 150 victims of domestic abuse saw their abusers prosecuted in court and around a quarter of these victims were men.
Domestic abuse against men is not always carried out by a female partner. Abuse is often at the hands of a parent, an older child or sibling.
According to the British Crime Survey, one in six men say they have experienced domestic abuse, but Louise Branch, North Somerset Council’s domestic abuse co-ordinator, said the number of reported cases are nowhere near this figure.
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She said: “Men feel they are going to be laughed at or they worry they might not be believed if they report it.
“If a woman is abusing a man he often feels he can’t defend himself as he doesn’t want to use physical force against her.
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“They don’t know what to do and don’t realise there’s support out there for them.”
Domestic abuse can come in many forms such as controlling someone’s finances to emotional abuse where the perpetrator may sulk, make you think you are crazy, degrade and isolate you from family, make unreasonable demands or blame you for all the arguments.
The abuse may be sexual or physical or the victim may live in constant fear of threats of violence, harassment or stalking.
Mrs Branch added: “With female perpetrators, there’s often a mental health or alcohol element to it. In these cases male victims want to get support for the woman they love. They want to protect her and they often don’t recognise they are being abused.”
North Somerset Council, Alliance Homes (formerly called NSHousing), the police and a number of voluntary agencies such as NADA and Gemini offer help to victims such as refuges, housing support, counselling, advice and support through the court system.
Despite this, there are around 200 high risk cases in North Somerset each year, where a victim is at risk of being seriously harmed or even murdered.
Mrs Branch said: “People ask why victims don’t leave but in the short term the risk of getting killed may increase because the partner isn’t going to be happy about them leaving. That’s why it’s important that there are agencies there to support people.
“We want to say to male victims that there’s support out there. Please phone and ask someone for help.”
Anyone suffering from domestic abuse can call 0800 6949999 or visit www.endabuse.org.uk