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Stigma facing male domestic abuse victims has to stop

When we hear of a female victim of domestic abuse, we are sickened, horrified and angry, but is the reaction the same when the victim is male?

More: Domestic violence victim sent to jail for not speaking up against abuser

More than 700,000 men a year are believed to fall victim to violent attacks from their partners, but according to The Telegraph, many of these acts go unreported, as men fear the consequences of reporting the offence.

Such consequences include shame and embarrassment, which stem from the stigma attached to the abuse, as well as fear that they themselves may be arrested after their abusers make false accusations in retaliation.

Dr Jessica McCarrick, a senior lecturer in counselling psychology at Teesside University, carried out a study on male domestic violence victims, and her report revealed that men were often “treated with suspicion by the criminal justice system” — the very system they are meant to be relying on for protection.

More: Comic uses Instagram to show (and tell) her story of domestic abuse

“Men find it incredibly difficult to talk about their experiences of domestic violence because of the shame and emasculation they feel is associated with it”, Dr McCarrick said. “To find the courage to speak out, only to be accused of violence themselves, is incredibly disheartening and ultimately prevents countless men from reporting intimate partner violence”.

And Dr McCarrick is not the only person to reveal such findings, as abuse charities like ManKind Initiative have also witnessed an increase in the number of men asking for advice after being falsely accused.

“Over the past 10 years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of callers to our helpline, stating they have been the victims of false allegations”, said Mark Brooks, chairman of the charity.

“The type of thing we hear is, ‘My wife or girlfriend has said if I leave or tell anyone, she will say I was the one attacking her and she was just defending herself’.

“It is an extremely powerful weapon in the armoury of the perpetrator and leaves the victim feeling trapped and helpless”.

More: Powerful ad highlights the devastating impact of domestic violence on kids

It’s clear that much more needs to be done to support male victims of domestic abuse, to remind them that it is OK to speak out about the emotional and physical turmoil they have suffered.

There does seem to be some good news, though: It’s possible that more men are reporting domestic abuse more than ever before, because the number of women convicted of domestic violence has reportedly increased dramatically over the last 10 years, going from 806 cases reported in 2004 – 2005 to 3,735 cases in 2013 – 2014.

If you or a loved one is suffering from domestic violence, then please find more information about how you can get help on the ManKind Initiative website, or contact Men’s Advice Line, and speak to a professional.

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