Rebecca Ranson, family law solicitor at Maguire, writes that whilst the recently published Domestic Abuse Bill is undoubtedly a well over-due move from the Government, many media outlets are missing a major factor in domestic abuse stories and support services, namely men.
There has been so much coverage on social media and the news lately about Domestic Abuse. In the 2018 Queen’s speech, Queen Elizabeth II stated firmly that ‘legislation will be brought forward to protect the victims of domestic violence and abuse.’ On the back of that, the draft Domestic Abuse Bill was published on 21 January 2019, discussed further in my earlier blog post.
As well as sparking legislation overhaul, the media has massively increased the coverage about Domestic Abuse to bring it to the forefront of people’s minds and a regular household/ workplace topic of discussion.
Whilst it is undoubtedly a well over-due movement from the Government’s part, many media outlets are missing a major factor in Domestic Abuse stories and support services – men.
According to the Office of National Statistics, in the year ending March 2018, an estimated 2 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the previous 12 months (1.3 million women, 695,000 men). This affected almost 6% of adults.
According to the figures, women are twice more likely to experience domestic abuse than men. Media channels and campaigns tend to highlight this, and provide support options to women in need such as Refuge, Women’s Aid and Women’s Support Project. But what support is available for the men affected?
There are still over half a million men who need support. 1 in 6 men reportedly suffer from domestic abuse and shockingly, only 1 in 20 men will seek help.
'Abused by my girlfriend'
Alex Skeel, age 22, has spoken out to the BBC this week about his experience of violent and vindictive behaviour from his girlfriend, and the mother of his children, Jordan Worth, also 22.
Alex has told the BBC about his experience of both mental and physical abuse. He explains how he was starved, frequently attacked with knives and blunt objects, beaten and scalded with boiling water. The cycle of abuse was only broken when a police officer attended Alex’s home to follow up their previous visit which had been prompted by a call from a concerned neighbour. It was at that point Alex described to them everything that had happened. In April 2018, Jordan was sentenced to seven years 6 months in prison. She pleaded guilty to controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship, wounding with intent and causing grievous bodily harm.
Jordan was the first woman in the UK to be sentenced to prison for coercive and controlling behaviour and this shows a landmark change in male domestic abuse being taken seriously by the police and the courts. Stigma and stereotypes have likely prevented many men from speaking out about these crimes in the past, but it is hoped that social attitudes will change as a result of the candid way in which men such as Alex speak out about their experiences; and that fact that in his circumstances, steps were taken by the police and the perpetrator was convicted.
If you or someone you care about is at immediate risk of harm, then you should call the police.
If you need help or support relating to domestic abuse, whether that be for you, a friend, colleague, family member, talk to someone. There are support networks and charities available to men and women, including Refuge, Victim Support and IDAS. If you would prefer to speak with someone familiar, you could make an appointment with your GP.
Be careful when accessing internet resources on these topics on a shared computer or linked devices. Many websites have an “exit page” button to enable you to close the webpage quickly, but you should also check your browser history etc to make sure that there is no trail left of the pages you have visited.
There are also options available to victims in the family courts, including non-molestation orders and occupation orders (collectively called injunctions). Read my blog about the available options and how we can help here.