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Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls

Date:19 APR 2022
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The Home Office has published a document setting out the government's position on and work to support male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls.

The document says: "The term ‘violence against women and girls’ refers to acts of violence or abuse that we know disproportionately affect women and girls. These crimes include - and are not limited to - rape, sexual violence, domestic abuse, stalking, ‘honour’-based abuse including forced marriage, ‘revenge porn’, and the harms associated with sex work and prostitution. These crimes have profound and long-lasting physical and mental health impacts and have absolutely no place in our society. The use of this term cannot and should not negate the experiences of, or provisions for, male victims of these crimes."

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It continues: "Harmful stereotyping, combined with popular myths and misconceptions around male victims, can act as additional barriers when it comes to reporting and seeking help. For example, stereotypes around masculinity can have a significant role in a male victim’s experience of domestic abuse. Male victims may be less likely to disclose that they are being abused or may not recognise they are victims of domestic abuse as they may believe the term ‘domestic abuse’ is only applicable to women.

"The year ending March 2018 CSEW showed that only just over half of male victims of partner abuse (50.8%) reported telling anyone personally about abuse experienced in the previous year. This compares to the 81.3% of female victims. Men and boys may face particular challenges to disclosing abuse due to stereotypes and out of fear of not being believed. Barriers to reporting these crimes, and seeking help from specialist services, can be experienced by all victims, regardless of sex. These can include, but are not limited to: fear of not being believed; lack of faith in the criminal justice system; feelings of shame, guilt or embarrassment; not recognising the situation as abusive; not being aware of how to report crime; fear of losing contact with children; immigration status; fear of their sexuality being revealed; threats of harm from the perpetrator; and, pressure from family and friends to remain in a relationship. Male victims with protected characteristics may be at greater risk of facing barriers to reporting and seeking help.

"Popular myths and misconceptions about male victims of crimes such as domestic and sexual abuse can be particularly damaging and act as a further barrier to reporting and help-seeking. Myths surrounding male victims of sexual abuse can include, but are not limited to: male survivors of sexual abuse will go on to abuse others; men/boys are only sexually abused by other men/boys; physical arousal during sexually criminal abusive acts signifies consent. In their national research, the voluntary sector specialist umbrella agency the Male Survivors Partnership concluded that 20% of the men sampled took over 31 years to disclose being sexually abused."

The full document can be read here.