Growing number of men coming forward to report domestic abuse to police
Rising numbers of men are reporting domestic abuse to police in Suffolk.
The number of offences reported by male victims increased almost a third in the last two years.
The rise has been put down to a variety of factors, including better support and more awareness.
Reports rose from 1,515 in 2017 to 1,781 in 2018 and 2,014 last year.
Previously released data showed about a quarter of those reporting domestic abuse in 2019 were male.
Detective Superintendent David Giles said: “The number of male victims has, historically, been very low – but that number has been growing in volume. It’s not the case that more men are being assaulted, but that more have the courage to come forward knowing they will be taken seriously.
“We have independent domestic violence advisors trained to deal with male and female victims.
“Equally well equipped, is our sexual assault referral centre, and our training unequivocally covers the fact that male victims are just as important as female victims.
“That first report is often not the first incident of domestic abuse before the victim has the courage to come forward.
“As an organisation, we’re determined that every report will be taken seriously.”
Mark Brooks OBE, chairman of the ManKind Initiative, which supports male victims, said more men recognised domestic abuse as something that not only affected women, and were more likely to be believed and supported by family, friends and the police, who were better at viewing it as an issue for men as well as women.
He said more awareness campaigns helped encourage men to come forward, but that challenges remained around increasing the support available, including for those with children, and around enough men being referred or signposted to underfunded services.
He added: “There are brilliant organisations in Suffolk, such as Leeway, Anglia Care Trust and Waveney Domestic Violence Abuse Forum, which will all need more funding to help support the increase in men coming forward. However, it remains a scandalous situation that there is no refuge for male victims in East Anglia.
“Local councils and housing associations need to get their heads together and ensure there are safe places for men to escape to. There are places around the country for male victims so there is no excuse for being none in East Anglia.”
Hundreds of domestic abuse incidents have been reported by males over the age of 16 this year – and ongoing restrictions on movement, due to the coronavirus pandemic, are expected to affect male victims in many of the same ways as female victims.
Mr Brooks said: “The Coronavirus will affect men in many of the same ways it affects women – they are stuck at home with their abuser. Given men tend to still be more invisible, that will become more of an issue.
“One particular point will be problems around parental contact if a father’s ex-partner wants to use the virus as an excuse for withholding agreed shared parenting commitments.
“This, in our eyes, is domestic abuse, as withholding agreed contact is a way of psychologically manipulating the other parent; more often than not, the father.”
For more information on how to report domestic abuse, visit the Suffolk police website.
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