Women’s shelter services available for male victims
BY MO CRANKER ON APRIL 3, 2017.
The Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society is doing its best to stay ahead of the times.
For the past few years, the shelter has been accepting male clients and has shifted from female, to gender-neutral language in an attempt to help more members of the community with their family abuse problems says director of programs and services Rose O’Donnell.
“I think most people do have a preconceived idea of what domestic abuse is,” says O’Donnell. “I think most people would assume women are always the victim of abuse, but that just isn’t the truth and we’re trying to help anyone who needs it.”
O’Donnell says approximately 10 per cent of the shelter’s case load deals with male victims and she says she believes there is a stigma around being a male victim of spouse or family abuse.
“I think a lot of society might not even believe a man saying he has been abused by a female,” she says. “I think men do have a difficult time coming forward as victims of abuse, for many reasons, and we’re trying to change that.”
For a man looking to get help from the shelter, O’Donnell says to call the shelter’s hotline, where workers can help the man out, connect him to an outreach worker, make a safety plan, and even set up a place safe to stay for the man if need be.
While the shelter does not let men stay its beds, it is something that could be discussed, says O’Donnell.
“Having men stay in a shelter is something other places have started doing, but we have not yet,” she says. “I think it is worth having a conversation, or a few conversations about, but we’re not there right now.”
O’Donnell says statistics show that between one in four and one in seven victims of abuse are men, and from 1999 to 2004 there was 500,000 male victims of abuse.
“It’s far more than we think — I can say that with confidence,” she says.