Male domestic abuse: the hidden secret no man likes to admit
The shocking story of solicitor Dave Edwards, who was stabbed in the chest by Sharon Edwards, his wife of two months, is certainly not an isolated case. According to statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, in the twelve months to March 2015, around 600,000 men were victims of domestic abuse. Overall, one in six men will suffer some form of domestic or emotional abuse during their lifetime.
The few cases of domestic abuse against men that make the headlines are just the tip of a hidden iceberg, held down below the waterline by men’s reluctance to speak out.
“A sign of weakness”
Mr Edwards was a case in point. Despite his wife inflicting physical harm during numerous rows prompted by what the judge called her “domineering, possessive and very jealous” nature, Edwards never reported the attacks. After seeing Sharon given a life sentence for the murder of his brother, Peter Edwards said:
“This case has highlighted… how difficult it can be for those victims to speak up and escape their situation. This is especially the case with male victims who are afraid that if they speak up, telling what is happening to them, it is a sign of weakness.”
At LGFL, we recognise this reluctance to speak out from our own experience with our male domestic abuse clients. Apart from the very real embarrassment of sharing their situation to friends or colleagues, men are genuinely afraid to speak out for other reasons such as:
- Losing their home. Despite being the victims, men have lost their homes, and been forced to move out, leaving other family members and children behind.
- Losing child contact. Domestic abuse against a male partner doesn’t necessarily mean they will be granted custody of any children. The abusive female partner can block contact with children, further isolating their male victim, effectively continuing the abuse even after the relationship has ended.
- Risk of sexual abuse accusations. It’s a very sad scenario, but abusive partners can accuse their male partners of sexual abuse as part of their mental and emotional abuse process. This is a very real fear for men.
Can’t talk to anyone else? Talk to us
At LGFL, we have found that men may find it easier to talk to a female lawyer about their abuse than a male lawyer. This may seem counter-intuitive, but we have helped male victims of domestic abuse through the process of safe separation and divorce who could never feel comfortable discussing such issues with another man, even a close friend. It’s an area we have come to specialise in through experience, a sympathetic approach, and an understanding of the very real trauma involved.
Men also find it reassuring that our countryside offices are discreet, being part of a country hotel estate rather than on the high street in town. We try to ensure visitor times do not cross over, so visitors can come and go in complete anonymity, without meeting anyone but our own staff.
Domestic abuse is illegal and a crime
Male domestic violence and emotional abuse is no less a crime than female abuse, no less damaging, painful or potentially life-threatening. And it’s not just opposite sex couples who experience violence or abuse: our clients have included men in same sex relationships with abusive civil partners or spouses.
Help is at hand
If you are in an abusive relationship, seek help as soon as possible. Contact one of the male domestic abuse charities such as ManKind, and call us for sympathetic, professional advice and help. We offer a free 30-minute face to face consultation for anyone living within a 30 mile radius of our offices, and our discreet countryside location ensures complete confidentiality and safety during your visit.