Male victims of domestic abuse are being urged to ask for help ahead of International Men’s Day (Saturday 19 November).
In the last three months 70 men asked for help from the Safe in Salford service, which is commissioned by Salford City Council to provide a wide range of legal, practical and emotional support and advice to adults and children affected by domestic abuse. But it’s feared that many more men in the city could be affected.
Councillor Barbara Bentham, lead member for environment, neighbourhoods and community safety, said people often do not realise they are in an abusive relationship because of the way their partner manipulates the situation, but men may be very hesitant about asking for help.
“Relationships can be complex but they should never be psychologically or physically harmful,” she said.
“The first thing I’d say to anyone – male or female – who feels they are in a harmful relationship is to talk to Safe in Salford or one of the many other support services available, some of which work exclusively with male survivors.
“They understand domestic abuse, they will listen, believe you and help you. You won’t be judged or blamed for the situation because domestic abuse is never your fault no matter what your abuser claims.“People sometimes think it is only abuse if violence is involved. Coercion and control are both forms of abuse which is often dressed up as love. It’s not love if your partner controls your life, cuts you off from family and friends dictates who you can see and what you can do and monitors your phone or social media.
“It’s not love if they constantly criticise you or undermine your self-confidence and pressurise you into behaving or doing just as they want by bullying, threats or violence.
“International Men’s Day is about celebrating the positive contribution men make to the world. There’s nothing positive about an abusive relationship but getting the help you need to break free from it and really live your life to its full potential is incredibly positive. I hope many more men and women reach out for the help that is there.”
Sheila is an independent domestic violence advisor (IDVA) working for Safe in Salford and worked with Alan to break free from one of the worst abusive relationships she has seen. (Names have been changed)
“The guys had been together for several years and Alan’s partner had gradually taken control of Alan’s life. He’d claim it was ‘just jealousy because he loved him so much’ when he wanted to know who Alan met and what they talked about and checked his phone for messages,” she said.
“Gradually he cut him off from family and friends – why would Alan want to spend time with them and not him? It was all emotional blackmail and manipulation to isolate Alan and control him even further – along with the classic lines that ‘if you leave me no-one else will want you, you’ll be all alone.’
“He controlled the finances because Alan ‘was so bad with money.’ That further undermined Alan’s confidence and grew to the point where Alan had to ask for money every time he wanted to buy something and explain why. It was another form of control. And there was physical and sexual abuse leading to Alan self-harming and turning to alcohol to cope.
“When we told Alan we believed his story and could help him, he broke down in tears. I spent a lot of time listening to Alan, letting him talk about what had happened to him and talking through options. Together we drew up an escape plan.
“We’ve put in extra security in his new home, helped him put a legal injunction in place to stop his partner contacting him and found him the mental health support he needs to recover from his trauma. We’ll continue to support him as he rebuilds his life.”
For confidential help please contact any of the following or visit our domestic abuse pages. In emergency always dial 999.