Mark Brooks of Mankind Initiative on male domestic abuse

DOMESTIC violence against men is largely overlooked by society, despite one in three victims being male, according to a Taunton-based charity.

Mark Brooks, chairman of The ManKind Initiative, which supports men who have been abused in their homes, has welcomed the launch of a consultation on a new Domestic Abuse and Violence Act.

He said: “It presents a real opportunity in taking an even tougher stance on tackling this awful crime that blights so many lives in every town and city.

“It is vital though that they lead to a more inclusive approach to domestic abuse with greater recognition and more services for male victims.

“There needs to be a real step change in supporting and recognising men who make up one in three of all victims.

“This also includes men who need to escape from domestic abuse alongside their children.

“There need to be more awareness campaigns aimed at men and changing public attitudes alongside more services and better responses from services when they do come forwards.”

Mr Brooks added: “The charity continues to believe there needs to be a parallel strategy for men who are victims of a range of crimes such as domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking.

“Current policy means they are classed as being victims of ‘crimes against a woman or girl’ and the policy to support them is called ‘ending violence against women and girls’.”

The public perception in some quarters that only women are victims of domestic abuse and never perpetrators is fuelled by the reluctance of some male victims to come forward to get support.

“There’s not enough encouragement for men to come forward and they may feel a sense of stigma and shame that they are victims, especially at the hand of a woman,” said Mr Brooks.

“It undermines the sense of what it means to be a man and there is a fear they may not be believed or could be ridiculed. There’s also a feeling that a man must have done something to deserve it.”

Men victims of domestic abuse should contact the police if they are in immediate danger and can call The ManKind Initiative helpline in confidence on 01823-334244 for details of available support.

A total of 2,069 men reported being victims of domestic abuse in Avon and Somerset in 2016.

Police say domestic abuse can be abusive physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual behaviour between adults in a relationship or between family members.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates that 26 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men aged 16 to 59 had experienced domestic abuse, while 1.2 million women and 713,000 men experienced domestic abuse last year.