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Silent no more: Male victims of domestic abuse speak out to save threatened lifeline

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THREE men who were beaten by abusive partners have broken their silence in a bid to save a lifeline service.

Bosses at Abused Men In Scotland have said it will shut its doors for good at the end of the month.

The Edinburgh-based charity – who run support groups and a helpline – say the safety of 350 men it helps every year will be put at risk unless it is granted a reprieve.

Chairman Tom Wood said: “If we do not find a new source of funding this lifeline service will close.

“We ignore what is happening to these men at our peril.

“Thousands live in silence and pain.”

Politicians have demanded Scottish Government assistance. Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour said: “The Scottish Government has for too long neglected funding for services for males – who make up at least a fifth of domestic abuse victims.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scotland’s new domestic abuse offence is gender-neutral and will be available to prosecute abuse committed against both men and women.”

Thousands of men suffer domestic abuse in fear and silence.

Analysis of the latest crime figures show one in five of Scotland’s domestic abuse victims are men. Last year, 58,810 domestic abuse cases were reported to police. Of those, 11,358 victims were men.

While the number of women victims eclipses men, the proportion of males reporting domestic abuse increases with age.

Men are the alleged victims in one in four of domestic abuse police reports involving victims in their 40s.

Over the age of 51 it climbs to one in three, according to Scottish Government figures.

Here, three brave men reveal the stories behind those figures.

 

COLIN’S STORY

Colin, 47, works in financial services. He spent years silently terrified he might die at the hands of his wife.

Colin says his wife broke his nose twice, smashed a telephone into his face, repeatedly chased him with a knife and bludgeoned him with bottles, lamps and even picture frames.

He explained his injuries claiming he had “fallen” or he had “walked into a door” to family and friends.

Colin, at 6ft, 1in, said: “I towered over my wife. But I was the one who was afraid of her, not the other way round.

“I’d have to lock myself in the bathroom when she chased me with a knife, or she’d pick up the nearest thing to her hand and hit me as hard as she could.”

Four years ago, Colin was suffering depression, terrified he’d lose everything he had spent a lifetime building-up because of the abuse.

He said: “I’d become adept at using make-up and arnica to cover the bruising and reduce the swelling.”

“For years I stayed silent. As a man, you feel ashamed a woman is beating you.

“You fear being ridiculed.”


Last year in Scotland, 18% of police reports of domestic violence features male victims and female suspects, up 5% from ten years ago


TOM’S STORY

Tom, 48, from Fife, is a social worker. Despite his training, he ignored all the warning signs and escalating rows after meeting his girlfriend in 1999, and ended up suicidal and trapped in a violent marriage.

He said: “Doing what I do, you’d think I’d have known better and finished the relationship as soon as it became abusive.

“We married in 2002 and I took her back three times despite being attacked with knives, and even having a chip pan thrown at me.

“The verbal and physical abuse got so bad, I was suicidal and at my lowest ebb, driving into a wall seemed like a good way to escape.

“She’d attack me at night, when I was trying to sleep, threatening me with a knife.

“We separated, but she’d driven such a wedge between family and friends, I was on my own.

“I told the police, but she only got a warning.”

Each time Tom took her back, the violence escalated. She would smash the TV, throw ornaments, spit, scratch and punch him.

Tom said: “I felt trapped.

“Several times the police thought I was the abuser, but eventually they saw it was my wife who was the violent one, not me.

“AMIS was my lifeline and got me through.”

DAVID’S STORY

David, 55, from Tayside, a teacher and father of three, suffered permanent injury when his abusive wife attacked him five years ago as he tried to prevent her beating one of their children.

He required extensive surgery, which alerted police and social workers.

David said: “I was so ground down, I actually tried to defend her.

“What had been going on for so long had become a way of life.

“Our kids were put on the ‘at risk’ register because of her behaviour.

“She’s chased me with a knife and there were a number of occasions when I feared for our safety.

“When a man beats his wife, he will be judged severely.

“When a woman does that to her husband, people ask ‘What did he do to provoke that’.

“People will laugh if they see a man being attacked by a women.

“If it’s the other way round, people will pull them apart.

“We need radical change. All domestic abuse is bad.

“It’s not a gender issue. It’s a violence issue.”