If a man was experiencing domestic abuse, would you recognise it?

Helen Greig, 22 November 2019

Domestic abuse doesn’t just impact white, straight women. Ahead of the next National Housing Federation domestic abuse forum, we look at how it affects men.

If you are a man reading this blog, I’d like you to really consider three questions:

  1. Would you be concerned if your partner hit you?
  2. Would you be concerned if your partner tried to take over your finances?
  3. Would you be concerned if your partner asked you not to go out on Friday nights with your friends anymore because they were lonely?

I’m guessing you probably answered yes to the first two, but had a much harder think about the third. And of course, the answer may well be no to the third question – you know your partner, and perhaps the conversation also included other opportunities to see your friends that worked well for everyone. But what if it didn’t? What if that request was just the start of a gradual process of cutting you off from your friends and family, making you feel bad whenever you went out without them, leading to a point where you become isolated and dependent on them?

Now replace the words, ‘be concerned’ in the questions with ‘tell your friends’. Would you tell your friends? How do you think they’d react? Does it change your answers at all?

And how about if you replace, ‘your friends’ with ‘the police?’ 

Statistics about men who experience domestic abuse are understandably difficult to obtain – many men will not admit they are experiencing domestic abuse because they are embarrassed, and may even feel ‘unmanly’, depending on their personal beliefs. The National Crime Survey for England and Wales March 2018 estimates that 695,000 men experienced domestic abuse in the previous year, a figure that subsequent surveys say has not changed. While we know that women are more likely than men to experience multiple incidents of abuse, different types of domestic abuse (intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking) and in particular sexual violence, domestic abuse affects men too and the biggest reported area is non-physical abuse – financial or emotional.

If a man talks to you about worries over their relationship, please don’t laugh and tell them to ‘man up’. That’s not a thing. They could be reaching out to you to confide something that really does happen but is rarely talked about. They could be living in one of your properties, they could be your friend, a colleague or a relative. Men experiencing domestic abuse is not as well understood as women but it does still happen, just perhaps in different ways. So be alert to it.

If you’re a man experiencing domestic abuse and want support, the Men’s Advice Line is a confidential, freephone helpline for male victims of domestic violence and abuse. They know how difficult it is for men experiencing domestic violence to know who to approach for help, advice and support. Trained staff can offer emotional support, provide practice advice and information about local services that can help. You can contact them on 0808 801 0327 Monday – Friday 10am–1pm and 2pm–5pm. For more information, see their website.