Put simply when we talk about domestic abuse we naturally assume we are dealing with male aggressors and female victims, and of course statistically this is more likely to be the case. However, male domestic abuse victims for various reasons have flown under the radar for a long time now and one of the main reasons for this is the aforementioned societal stigma. Not only does this create a pressure on men that it is not possible for them to be in the position of a victim, but it also raises questions around how reports by men are recorded and subsequently followed up. Interestingly a colleague of mine was telling me recently about a domestic dispute that one of his male clients had got into with his partner. She had become physical and when he called the police and they entered the property, the man was arrested, because the assumption was that as a male he must be the perpetrator. Sadly this will not be the only instance of stigma and societal perception influencing actions and until we focus on a non-gendered approach, and tackle domestic abuse as a holistic problem, this will continue to happen.
I read an article earlier on in the year that the more violent and serious domestic abuse cases will involve male aggressors and female victims, and it certainly got my attention. I am reminded of Alex Skeel who was subjected to a prolonged tirade of emotional and physical abuse which nearly cost him his life. It was this case that made national headlines, which perhaps started to shine the light on male domestic abuse. Last week I interviewed a young lady from Texas for my book, who had lost her brother aged just 22 in 2014. He had been subjected to prolonged emotional and physical abuse and his untimely death had torn a family apart, leaving them without any closure due to the suspicious circumstances which surrounded it.
Domestic abuse can be subtle and there are many behaviours and actions which could be construed as other things (belittling, withholding affection, continually subjecting partners to the silent treatment for example), but would actually fall under the umbrella of psychological domestic abuse. It’s vital we are more aware of our relationships and have the confidence to speak out if we feel like something is not quite right. Whether it is to a friend, a charity, advice line or even authorities, please do not suffer in silence.