London safe house call for male domestic abuse victims
Campaigners have called for London to have its first safe house for male victims of domestic abuse.
Met Police figures show reports of male domestic abuse grew from 9,245 in 2012 to 16,681 in 2015 – an 80% increase.
Despite this, there is no safe house men can go to and the only support that can be offered is advice.
In England and Wales, there are 18 areas that provide refuges for men as well as women.
The closest refuges for men to London are based in Leicester, Poole and Worcestershire.
Ippo Panteloudakis, operations director for domestic violence charity Respect, said on average there had been a 15% increase each year in the number of calls to its Men’s Advice Line.
In London it receives 3,000 calls each year, a fifth of all its calls nationally.
“Men asking for emergency accommodation in London have nowhere to go,” he said.
“The options are to face homelessness – including hidden homelessness where men sleep on friends’ sofas – or carry on living with their abusive partner and risking injuries and severe mental health problems in many cases.”
‘Nothing on offer for me’
One victim, a gay male who spoke anonymously, said: “It started with a slap and I didn’t think anything of it as it was just a slap.
“Over time, the severity got worse until it was escalated to full-scale bashings.
“There wasn’t anyone I could approach. Even my friends at work, who would see if I had a black eye or if I had a scratch on my face or a bloodshot eye, or even when I had my collarbone broken and I was taped up and in a sling – nobody really felt comfortable addressing that.
“My situation was we shared a home which wasn’t in my name. If I left the relationship I would have automatically become homeless and if you become homeless it’s incredibly difficult to maintain a job.
“The emotional support and the one-to-one counselling was there, but the structural support wasn’t. There was nothing on offer for me to get out of that situation.”
Bromley Council is looking for a new supplier to take over its domestic violence service. A summary of the tender states the supplier should provide “standard, medium and high levels” of support to females and “an appropriate service for men and relevant signposting”.
The council does not define what “appropriate” means and “relevant signposting” suggests it is not looking to run a service for men within the borough.
Mark Brooks, chairman of charity Mankind Initiative, which specialises in helping male victims of abuse, said: “This implies men don’t need the same level of support as women do and that’s wholly wrong.
“When victims men feel a sense of damaged pride, of not being believed and that people would view them as being weak. The problem for men in London is where do they go? How do they get help?”
Male domestic abuse
Increase in reports to Met Police from male victims of domestic abuse
- 9,245 Reports received in 2012
- 16,681 Received in 2015
- 74,000 Estimated number of male domestic abuse victims in London in 2013-16
Bromley Council said: “Our strategy mentions men and aligns with the government’s priorities around violence against women and girls and with the funding which pays for the service.
“However, we would treat men coming forward in the same way, with access to our freedom programme and to the services of an independent domestic violence adviser who can visit victims in their own homes or privately at the one-stop-shop to offer advice and support.”