Men can be victims the same as women can be perpetrators, writes Sam Billingham
Growing up with three older brothers and a loving father, one thing that sticks in my mind quite vividly is the fact that I can’t remember seeing them cry or show emotion.
I grew up thinking they were invincible. As an adult, I know this isn’t true.
Abusive relationships always involve an imbalance of power and control. An abuser uses intimidating, hurtful words and behaviours to control his or her partner.
We cannot and must not deny the fact that domestic abuse knows no boundaries and that it does happen to men too. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse at some point during their lifetime.
Men can be victims the same as women can be perpetrators.
The issue of under-reporting is even more pronounced amongst men, they fear appearing unmanly, shame, embarrassment, and a failure to live up to masculine ideals, which is preventing them from reporting the abuse.
Many men don’t realise it at the time but over the coming months, they are manipulated into a position of isolation, their support network taken away from them.
We don’t always consider the victim to be the male. It doesn’t enter our mind that a husband could ever be the victim of abuse from his wife or a boyfriend a victim of his girlfriend.
Domestic abuse against women gets wide spread coverage but abuse against men remains a taboo subject. Men need much more support and attitudes need to change.
We have to stop gender stereotyping the situation of women always being the victim and men as always being the perpetrator.
Male victims can also experience domestic abuse at the hands of their wives, partners or ex-partners, whether female or male.
Domestic violence and abuse can lead to male victims feeling shame, guilt, isolation and worthlessness. Due to social prejudices, men can find it even harder than women to let other people know that they are being abused and to seek help.
We need to open up the conversation about male victims of domestic abuse and encourage those who are suffering in silence to speak up and tell their stories. We must ensure that those guilty are punished and also to reassure them that, as a society, we are here to support all victims of domestic abuse.
My advice to anyone experiencing domestic abuse would be, always remember it is not your fault. Domestic abuse happens because abusers choose to abuse; no one chooses to be a victim. Also, no matter what your abuser tells you, they won’t change and things won’t get better.
I would also encourage anyone experiencing domestic abuse to reach out to specialist services, they are there to support you.
National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247
The Haven Wolverhampton 08000 194 400
Mankind Initiative 01823 334244
For anyone wanting to contact me in confidence can do so via my website - www.sodahq.uk - and I can signpost you to services in your area.
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