Male victims of domestic abuse 'stay for children'

Many male victims of domestic violence are remaining in the family home for the sake of their children.

by Wayne O Connor

The Irish Independent, Thursday 20th November 2014

Amen, a support service for male victims of domestic violence, said it has seen a rise in the number of people contacting them for help last year.


More than 2,200 different people contacted domestic violence support service Amen last year, a 3pc rise, and 75pc, or 1,694, of these were new callers to the service.


Of those callers who disclosed their age, just over a third were aged between 40 and 50.


Amen chairperson Nicola Dowling said that domestic violence affects every member of the family but men often suffer in silence.


"Traditionally, male victims of domestic violence have found it more difficult to speak out and seek help for the abuse which they suffer in the home," she said.


"Many of our service users report that they are tolerating abuse for the sake of their children," added Ms Dowling.


The organisation provides information and support for male victims of domestic abuse including a confidential helpline, information on legal operations for victims and counselling.


Verbal and psychological abuse were the most common forms of abuse reported by callers in 2013. However there were also more than 2,000 reports of physical abuse.


These incidents of abuse were not only perpetrated on men in relationships and often instances of abuse had continued after relationships had ended.


For the first time, the report also highlighted the issue of children who are witnessing domestic abuse perpetrated on their fathers.


Almost 700 people said that children were currently residing in family homes where domestic abuse is occurring.


"Many of our male victims and their wider family members who contact the service, identify a difficulty with access, guardianship and custody of their children as well as applying barring orders and protection orders," said Ms Dowling.


"The emotional and physical abuse they suffer leaves long-lasting psychological scars," she added.


However, Ms Dowling said that impending changes to legislation would have a welcome effect on unmarried fathers and male victims of domestic abuse.


"The proposed changes to be implemented by the Children and Family Relationships Bill should offer some welcome relief to the victims of domestic abuse, particularly unmarried fathers," she said.


Despite an increase in the number of people contacting Amen for support, Ms Dowling said that their services are offering relief to victims.


"Amen has made significant progress in raising awareness and offering relief to male victims of domestic violence."