Domestic violence is an issue that affects the lives of one in four women and one in six men in their lifetime.
On average, two women are killed each week, and 30 men killed per annum, according to statistics from the charity Living Without Abuse. And yet, domestic abuse, whatever form it comes in, is rarely talked about - and men in particular are in danger of suffering in silence.
It was revealed earlier this year that the number of women who are convicted of domestic violence has tripled in the last decade. Figures released by the Crown Prosecution Service to Parliament, following a question submitted by Conservative MP Philip Davies, highlighted that 1,850 women were convicted of domestic abuse in 2006, increasing to 5,641 in 2015.
While the data did not specify the gender of the women’s victims, or if the abuse occurred between spouses or partners, or other relatives, it came as a reminder that while the majority of convicted domestic abusers are male, women can also commit serious abuse - and their victims should be considered and supported accordingly.
However, my time dealing with the victims of domestic violence has taught me that there is a distinct lack of male victims who are willing to come forward and talk about their experiences. It is incredibly common for victims of both genders to, wrongly, feel some level of shame at what they are going through, but it is men more than women who will let this feeling stand in their way of seeking help.
Moreover, men who have suffered abuse at the hands of a female partner often do not know where to look for help, which is a result of a lack of information and media coverage given to this issue. The help is available for male victims of domestic violence, however, there is a serious lack of awareness when it comes to issues of this nature.
A survey carried out by Percy Hughes & Roberts this year, which questioned more than 600 people of both genders about their attitudes towards domestic violence, uncovered massive misconceptions about the “typical” victim. Some 79% of respondents said they believed women in a heterosexual relationship to be most commonly affected, with just 7% of respondents suggesting men in a heterosexual relationship were equally at risk.
The vast majority of domestic violence victims are women, but the figures pointed to a worrying oversight when it comes to providing support for men, and members of the LGBT community, who may also be at risk.
The first and most important step that male victims of domestic violence can take is to talk to someone about their circumstances, whether this be a friend, relative or a member of the authorities. Keeping a log of each incident that occurs is also recommended, as it will provide vital evidence if the case goes to court. Most importantly, remembering there is no shame in speaking up about their situation, and realising they are in no way to blame for their circumstances, is the first step in making things better.