‘She’d just start punching me at night’

A dedicated refuge for male victims of domestic abuse is being considered by Bridgend council to help the growing number of men seeking support.

Philip (not his real name) says over a three-year period he was abused physically and emotionally by his wife.

He described how he fled his home and sought refuge after trying to take his own life.

Domestic violence charity Calan DVS said it had seen an increase in male victims using its drop-in centres.

Philip said: “I felt worthless and frightened. I was constantly accused of carrying on with women in the area. So I wouldn’t want to leave the house for too long.

“If I went to the shops and I got stuck in a queue I’d be fearful because if I took too long, I’d be accused of all sorts of things by her. I was just constantly on edge. It was a living nightmare.”

He described the situation getting worse after he was involved in an accident at work which left him struggling to walk for months.

He says he was unable to carry on in employment and received a large compensation pay out. However, he says his wife spent £100,000 of the payout on gambling online and drugs.

Phillip says he was unaware she had spent vast amounts in a small period of time.

“It was over three months,” he told BBC Wales. “She said it was going on bills and kids Christmas presents. But if I confronted her she would get violent.

“Sometimes in the middle of the night, she’d just start punching me when I was sleeping but there was no explanation for it. It just got to stage where I felt totally worthless, I tried to take my own life four or five times. The first time I tried to hang myself in the garage.

“She came looking for me and I was actually hanging there and she started hitting me but I said just drag my body down, I just want to be gone.

Calan DVS provides specialist support for victims and is currently developing a male support programme. It describes it as a UK first and say at the moment there is not a specific model for helping male victims.

Rachael Eagles, chief executive of Calan DVS said: “We are seeing an increase in the number of male victims using our drop in centres. Those numbers haven’t been gathered for a long period but do show a rise.

“However, we don’t know if that is because we now have better reporting facilities for men or whether we’re just seeing a growth in the number of victims coming through the system, but overall we are seeing that increase.”

The organisation, which works across Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot, south Powys and the Amman valley in Carmarthenshire is now developing a male support programme.

“We’ve got male victims on the steering group to look at how best the support can be delivered for them because it is different and we want to make sure it’s accessible and identify what the barriers are,” Ms Eagles said.

“While there are male refuges and one-to-one services available there is no specific programme tailored for male victims that professionals can use. So we tend to adapt other existing resources and that is why we have designed one which is currently being evaluated by the University of South Wales.