Domestic Abuse – The Hidden Side

The Children’s Schools and Families Scrutiny Committee I sit on at Cornwall Council has formed a small Single Issue Panel (SIP) looking into child poverty, the links and effects it has on our children and families. We have looked at various issues that are associated with child poverty by means of asking different organisations to preset evidence to this SIP.
One of those organisations who presented evidence was an organisation called ESTEEM which is an organisation that helps men who have been subjected to domestic abuse, which includes physical, emotional and mental abuse. This form of abuse is rarely discussed, or even thought about because the perception is only men commit this form of abuse. This like other forms of abuse will have a huge effect on children and their families.
Nationally for every three victims of partner abuse, two will be female and one will be male. One in six men (16%) and one in four women (29%) aged 16 and over will suffer domestic abuse in their lifetime. In 2009/10 4.2% of men and 7.5% were victims of abuse. Again, in 2009/10 40% of stalking victims were male.
The most prevalent age group for male victims is 26-34 where 3.7% of men stated they were a victim of partner abuse compared to 1.7% of 45-54 year olds, 3.6% of 16-19 year olds and 3% of 20-24 year olds. Around 20% of men who have suffered partner abuse had done so for more than a year. In 2008/09 this was 97,000 men. The number of women convicted of perpetrating domestic abuse has quadrupled in the past six years from 806 in 2004/05 to 3,494 in 2009/10.

There are various unique issues on this subject in that men do find it difficult to recognise they are victims and when they do, find it hard to report it because they are treated very differently by statutory and voluntary services. Society also treats this differently and you will often hear the comment of ‘man up’ or ‘be a man’, so it is little wonder men find it extremely difficult to report or even talk about it.

If a man is subject to domestic abuse he has no where to go, as currently in the UK there only 11 refuge beds for men, compared to 4000-7000 for women. The nearest refuge bed for a man in Cornwall is in Weston Super Mare and it has one bed; this is compared to 3 dedicated centres for females in Cornwall. Roughly the Government spends £6.5 million per year on female anti-abuse projects/campaigns and almost zero for men.

These figures speak for themselves and highlight this forgotten area. I asked the gentleman who presented this evidence what can we (Cornwall Council) do to highlight this area. He said get the message out on this type of abuse and if you can, fund or build a refuge for men in Cornwall. The later will be tricky without money, but that does not mean it should not be attempted. From my viewpoint I will make sure this topic is in the final report and then make sure it is acted upon.

One last point, here are the contact details of  ESTEEM, please pass them on:

Office – 01872 226981
Mobile – 07825 220232
Website – http://www.esteemmen.co.uk/

(NB: figures have been sourced by ManKind Initiative and come from various Government Departments)