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Partner Abuse in England and Wales
1995 - 2007

The recent Report(1) published by the Home Affairs Select Committee following its Inquiry into Domestic Violence in England and Wales largely ignored the plight of male victims, although it did recommend the provision of more emergency accommodation for them but, unlike for women victims, subject to "means-testing".

Detailed study of male victims


Experiences reported to a 2001 detailed study(2) of the experiences of 100 male victims of domestic violence suggested that in many instances male victims of female violence in couple relationships suffered no less physical and emotional consequences than female victims. Over half had been threatened with a weapon and a significant proportion reported serious forms of injury. One third had been kicked in the genitals, and others burnt or scalded, stabbed, or hit with heavy objects. Male victims were also less likely than female victims to report the violence or abuse against them, and when they did report, were often faced with what appeared to be widespread prejudice or discrimination against them by the police, social agencies and courts. About one fifth of male victims were themselves arrested. Little action was taken by the police against female assailants unless the men had a visible and significant injury.


Nearly half of male victims who reported abuse against them were subsequently excluded from the family home, and a significant proportion lost meaningful or any contact with their children, who usually remained with the violent mother. Father victims who reported abuse against them by the mother were particularly vulnerable to the consequences of parental separation and the continuing hostility and obstruction of the mother. Only a small proportion of father victims subsequently had regular unimpeded contact with their children. Over three quarters of the 203 children involved witnessed the violence by the mother against the father.


Zero tolerance and pro-arrest policies appeared to be directed mainly at men and offered little protection to genuine male victims and their children. The responses to the survey suggested that in a substantial number of emergency attendances, the police did not act either impartially or fairly.


A male victim appeared to be over twice as likely as a female assailant of being arrested when the police responded to an emergency call. There appeared a marked reluctance on the part of the police to arrest a violent female partner in a domestic incident. Few violent female partners were arrested, fewer still charged, and fewer still ever convicted.


Bias against male victims appeared to extend to the courts. Male victims had limited success in obtaining non-molestation and exclusion orders against violent female partners. None of the male victims responding to the survey who had applied for an exclusion order had been granted one, compared to a high success rate by female partners against them.


The results of the study followed a similar pattern to those of other surveys and academic studies, and were consistent with the results of the 1998 Dispatches survey which used virtually the same instrument and also reported on 100 male victims (for details, see Dewar Research website at Although there has been some change in attitude in England and Wales since 2001 with wider public recognition of the existence and plight of male victims, there appears to be still widespread bias against male victims on the part of the police and social agencies. There are still no accredited treatment programmes for female perpetrators, and few violent women are arrested or charged in domestic incidents. Public funding to support male victims and their children is still an exception, and only a handful of emergency refuge places are available for them.



September 2008


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