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News Briefing - January 2022

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Male Victims of Domestic Abuse

Father victims are especially disadvantaged, since if they do report, the chances are that it is they who will be ousted from the family home and subsequently lose any meaningful contact, or indeed any contact at all, with their children, who are allowed to remain with the violent mother by the courts and social agencies.


Some facts about male victims in England and Wales

  • Men account for about one third of all victims in intimate relationships, the proportion rising with the severity of the abuse suffered by them.
  • Police records of domestic violence incidents show much lower proportions of male victims reporting than this, about 20% in recent years. Partly because of 'macho' attitudes and anticipated unsympathetic police responses, male victims tend to under-report even more than female victims, particularly younger men who experience only minor assault.
  • It is thought that there are several hundred publicly funded refuges for abused women and their children in England and Wales, but only a handful specifically for abused men and their children, although some of the women's refuges do allocate a few places for men and their children on an ad hoc basis. Generally, however, women's refuges prohibit any men or older male children from the premises.
  • There are a few small charities, funded mainly by donations, helping male victims. In contrast, the national charities helping women victims receive substantial public funding.
  • Abused fathers wishing to leave the family home with their children face a possible charge of abducting the children as well as nowhere to go with them except bed and breakfasts. Not all local authorities provide emergency accommodation for male victims and their children. Many abused fathers therefore continue to 'live' with the violence in order to protect their children.
  • Local authorities at present receive multi-million grants each year in government funding essentially to support female domestic abuse victims, but nothing proportionate to support male victims. Indeed, authorities appear to be still measured by government on the support they specifically give female victims (by performance indicator BV 225). The result is that local authorities are discouraged from providing any support to specifically help male victims and their children in their areas since they receive no specific government funding for this. This, despite their over-arching Gender Equality Duty.
  • The government response to this inequality is that local authorities must show a 'need' by male victims for such support funding. Based on the numbers of actual male victims, including fathers, revealed by government studies, the need for some funded support is surely obvious.
  • Government funding for male victims at present appears to extend essentially to one national helpline.
  • The persisting lack of government funding for male victims in the light of its own research evidence, in defiance of the Gender Equality Duty, appears to be unduly influenced by cost and by sexual politics at high level.
  • Strategies on domestic violence and funding provision produced annually by government for state agencies to implement are still primarily aimed at female victims.Men account for between one third and one half of all victims in intimate relationships, the proportion rising with the severity of the abuse suffered by them.

A challenge for the future
Domestic violence is a social problem affecting both sexes, albeit to different extents. Ignoring the plight of male victims is not only inequitable, but is unlikely to solve the problem. It also ignores the plight of their children, which could be argued is a form of official child abuse if the father victim is ousted and they are left with a violent mother.

It is now time for government to officially recognise the problem and to produce and fund and see implemented a nation-wide strategy to help victims of both sexes, including support especially for those charities at present involved in helping male victims.


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