‘Someone told me to man up’: male victim of domestic violence tells how he was attacked by his ex-girlfriend – and the abuse he received when he went public
By ELEANOR BUSBY
10 March 2014
Fear of emasculation and not being believed prevent some men who have been abused from reporting the crime to the police, according to a victim.
A 25-year-old man was hit by his former girlfriend, of the same age, in her parents’ house in Wimbish, near Saffron Walden, at the beginning of February this year.
The unexpected attack threw the victim backwards through a mirror, shattering the glass around him. He ran from the house and called the police after the blow left him terrified.
His ex-girlfriend, who he has not seen since the incident, received a caution from Essex Police.
After his eye-opening experience, the victim has called for a greater awareness of domestic violence against men.
Once the victim had spoken out, he experienced people both doubting him and making emasculating comments on social media.
He told the News: “What shocked me the most was the social response to the event. I uploaded a photo of the bruising and swelling a day after the incident to Facebook and the majority of people who bothered to comment asked for ‘the full story’. They believed it must have been prompted.
“I feel certain that if a woman posted the same photo, explaining her ex had bruised her face the world would rally behind her and he would become public enemy number one. So why and how does society allow this difference to exist?”
The victim, who had uploaded the image to show that violence against men does happen, added that one user told him to “man up”.
His former partner’s father also called him “a pansy” and said “can’t you take a hit from a girl?”
According to Essex police, there were 28,340 recorded domestic abuse incidents last year – 22,156 of these were female victims and 6,174 were male victims.
But discovering the true number of male victims is difficult as many may not seek help from fear of disbelief or emasculation, according to the victim.
His former girlfriend, who was 5ft 11 and a larger weight, was more than capable to assault him. But he added: “I think if your partner was smaller than you then you’d feel silly going to the police.”
The victim’s ex-girlfriend had been violent and aggressive a number of times before the punch but he had excused it because she’d been drunk.
On this occasion, however, she had been sober and the punch had come from nowhere.
“It is not like me to call the police but I think the fall through the mirror scared me into it. It was enough to make me take a stand to ensure it didn’t happen again.”
The victim believes more should be done to raise awareness of domestic abuse against men in the media.
He said: “I have never seen adverts of women shouting and attacking a man – it’s always the other way around. It is not shown from the other perspective.
“Until there are similar campaigns for men, it is unlikely that the true number of male victims needing help will be known.”
Detective Inspector Nick Burston, of the Essex force’s public protection unit, told the News that the officers consider each case on its merit.
She said: “We emphasise to officers that domestic abuse does happen to both men and women – although it does primarily happen to women. We don’t differentiate.
“Around 20 per cent of the domestic abuse incidents recorded to us are against men. These are often from women – but not all.”
The force now uses a Domestic Abuse Intelligence Team to assess the relationships on a whole and to get a historic picture of the situation when the incident is reported.
She added: “This way the officers are not branded by stereotypes when they walk into an incident.”
In the next six months, the force is hoping to hold victim focus groups in a supported environment for male victims after recently running the groups for female victims.
DI Burston added: “Often the stereotype is that there isn’t anything out there, but Essex charity Safer Places and Victim Support both help men and women victims.”
Adam Pemberton, Assistant Chief Executive of Victim Support, said: “From speaking to victims we know that men can find this kind of abuse difficult to deal with as it is so widely, but wrongly, thought of as a crime that only affects women.
“It takes great courage to come forward and seek help, especially as it happens behind closed doors and the abuse is often inflicted by a partner or close family member.”
If you have been a victim of domestic abuse you can call the Victim Support helpline on 0845 30 30 900.
:: Men in Cambridgeshire make up about a quarter of victims of domestic abuse, police said.
The county force launched a campaign on Valentine’s Day targeting men who are victims of violence in the home.
Det Insp Alan Page said he believes there are men out there who are not reporting the abuse they suffer and that some men do not feel there is enough work done to highlight this issue.
He said: “We have anecdotal evidence to suggest domestic abuse against men is under-reported and we know from feedback we have received that some men do not feel there is enough work done to highlight this issue.”
Facebook adverts, posters and a print advertising were used as part of the awareness raising campaign.
The force is also working with Cambridgeshire County Council to develop a six-month campaign targeting female victims of domestic abuse.