When you think about Domestic abuse or violence,
What’s the first image you think of?
A terrified mother, living in fear…trying to protect herself and her kids from an abusive husband or partner.
Or do you think about a Male victim of Domestic abuse? – Suffering in Silence. Too ashamed to tell anyone about it.
Chances are, we’d picture the mother or woman first – and in reality, the impact and severity of abuse suffered by women is much greater than that experienced by men.
Yet, according to research*, 6% of men in Ireland do suffer from some form of severe domestic abuse.
And it’s estimated, in the region of 88,000 men, have been severely abused by a partner at some point in their lives.
Combine minor incidents with severe abuse and that figure rises to 26% of the male population.
Recognising Domestic Abuse Against Men
But what exactly does Male Domestic abuse look like?
Domestic abuse can be described as the use or threat of physical or emotional force, including sexual violence in close adult relationships.
In the case of Male victims, this can mean abuse carried out in heterosexual or homosexual relationships.
In a word, it’s about Control. Controlling the victim.
Types of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse doesn’t always mean physical violence, but it can play a major part. Physical violence/abuse is any intentional, aggressive or unwanted contact with your body.
Examples of emotional or psychological abuse include humiliation; bullying; threatening to hurt children or remove access to them; exploitation; verbal aggression and undermining of self-esteem.
Sexual violence, as a form of domestic abuse, is any form of sexual coercion or degradation against an individual in the family or domestic unit.
Financial or economic abuse can include: economic blackmail; complete control of money and bank accounts; or denial of access to funds.
This can mean systematic isolation from family and friends; forbidding or preventing the victim from going out and meeting people.
Digital or online abuse is the use of technologies like texting and social media to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. In most cases, this type of abuse is emotional and/or verbal and is perpetuated online.
According to the same research…
- Only 1 in 10 men who had been severely abused talked to a counsellor about it.
- A lot of Male victims were afraid they wouldn’t be believed, if they reported the abuse.
- A lot of victims feel ashamed to admit their abuse, as it challenges the traditional view of men.
- Some Fathers feared if they left their abuser they would lose access to their children.
- Also, many were concerned they would have nowhere to go, as there is no domestic abuse refuge for men in Ireland.
- Almost 1000 men who were living with an abusive partner and moved out had to rely on emergency accommodation.
Niamh Farrell from ‘Amen – Domestic abuse services‘ has informed us that ‘statistics say that only one in 20 men report domestic violence, they generally don’t look for help and if they do it tends to be much further down the line when it’s often the case that the situation cannot be resolved at that point. it’s gone too far’
If we witness domestic violence but choose to walk away;
we leave another victim behind.
We’re not just bystanders.
But how can you tell if someone is experiencing Male Domestic Abuse?
What are the signs and #whatwouldyoudo?
Signs of Domestic Abuse
If you think someone you know is in an abusive situation, then maybe look for the following signs.
- Acting afraid of their partner.
- Do they talk about their temper, how possessive they are, or their jealousy?
- Anxious to please their partner.
- Do they seem overly anxious or unnaturally worried about keeping their partner happy?
- Restricted access to friends and family.
- Do you get the feeling they’re being held back from interacting with family and friends – Declined invites, last minute cancellations?
- Limited access to money or car.
- Do they have to ask for a partner’s permission to access money or make a car journey?
- Anxiety, depression.
- Have you noticed a change in their demeanor? Is there something they can’t or won’t talk about?
- Showing physical injuries.
- Do they have any unexplained or suspect injuries?
- Are they wearing unusual clothes to conceal injuries?
Advice if you’re concerned about someone you know
Follow your instincts. If you notice warning signs and suspect someone you know is being abused, don’t wait for them to approach you. Look for a private moment where you can express concern and let them know you’re there for them.
Tell your friend you’re concerned for them or that you’re worried.
If they deny anything is wrong, don’t push, but communicate that you’ll be there if they want to talk.
Assure them that the violence is not their fault
This can be an important thing for a victim to hear.
Some useful things to say might be, “No one deserves to be treated this way,” “You’re not to blame,” or “What’s happening is not your fault.”
Support, but don’t give advice
This can be hard to do, especially if you know the victim. But remember,you can’t make someone leave a relationship if they’re not ready to do so. Be aware that leaving an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time for a victim, so don’t put pressure on them.
There are several agencies in Ireland who can offer help and support.
Check out www.whatwouldyoudo.ie for a list of services and advice.
Advice if you witness abuse between Strangers
If you’re a witness to a situation that you feel requires an intervention and you think it’s safe to do so, try using one of the three D’s.
Creating a distraction is an indirect and non-confrontational way to intervene, and it can help keep a dangerous situation from escalating. Try distracting either the person about to commit violence, or the potential victim.
For example: Ask for directions, the time, help looking for a lost item, or anything else that you think of. If possible, use a distraction that will get you a moment alone with the victim, to ask if there’s a problem.
Even if you don’t know the victim and abuser, someone else might. Friends of the people involved might be in a better position to get involved.
You could say to them, “Look, I’m concerned, their partner seems really angry. Are you be able to talk to them?
Or, if you don’t feel comfortable intervening, look for someone else who might. If you’re at a bar, look for the bouncer or someone in a similar role and point out what’s happening.
In a direct approach you either approach the victim or abuser and intervene.
The problem with directly approaching an abuser, is that they may attack you and end up taking it out on their partner later.
If you’re going to have direct contact, it’s probably best to be subtle.
Use body language to communicate disapproval and make your concern known.
Make it obvious that you’re keeping an eye on the situation.
Or, if approaching the victim, tell them that you’re concerned, that you want to help, and that it’s not their fault.
Remember, if you suspect someone is being abused – before you get involved, ask yourself if it’s safe and legal to intervene.
If the situation is already violent or looks like its escalating quickly, don’t directly intervene. Call the Gardaí on 999.
The only effective bystander intervention is a non-violent one.
If you see or suspect domestic abuse in Dublin visit whatwouldyoudo.ie or call 999.
* Watson and Parsons (2005)