Anybody can be affected by domestic abuse, and anyone can be an abuser. It doesn't just happen to women – men can be victims too, whether their partner is a man or a woman.
If it's happening to you, it's important to tell someone and to remember that you're not alone.
Ippo Panteloudakis is helpline manager for the Men's Advice Line, which offers help over the phone or via email. "We spoke to 800 male victims of domestic abuse in 2010," he says. "More men are coming forward than a few years ago, and the services to support them are improving very quickly."
The Men's Advice Line can refer men to local places that can help, such as health services and voluntary organisations.
Talking to someone
It can be difficult for men to say they need help, and to know where to go once they've decided to talk to someone. "Men can be reluctant to say that they are victims, and they worry that they won't be believed," says Ippo.
"What I'd say to these men is: there's more help out there than you think. The key is to talk to someone. A lot of men who call the helpline have seen our website first or emailed us, and we've responded. Some men email and ask us to call them back, which we do."
Find out where to go for help.
Domestic abuse is very serious, whether it happens to men or women. Don’t feel that you have to put up with it.
How do I know if I am experiencing abuse?
There are different kinds of abuse.
The person abusing you may:
- belittle you, or put you down
- blame you for the abuse or for arguments
- deny that abuse is happening, or play it down
- isolate you from your family and friends
- make unreasonable demands for your attention
Threats and intimidation
The person abusing you may:
- threaten to hurt you or kill you
- destroy things that belong to you
- stand over you, invade your personal space
- threaten to kill themselves, and/or the children
- read your emails, texts or letters
- harass or follow you
The person abusing you may hurt you in a number of ways. These could include:
- slapping, hitting or punching
- pushing or shoving
- biting, kicking
- burning you
- choking you
- throwing things
- holding you down
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, whether they're male or female. The person abusing you may:
- touch you in a way you don’t want to be touched
- make unwanted sexual demands
- hurt you during sex
- pressure you to have sex
- pressure you to have unsafe sex (for example, not using a condom)
Your partner may also accuse you of flirting or cheating on them. If you ever feel scared of your partner, or you have changed your behaviour because you’re afraid of what your partner might do, you could be in an abusive relationship.
"As well as talking to someone when you realise you're in an abusive relationship, try to gather evidence about what's happening," says Ippo. This could include taking photographs of any injuries or bruises, and reporting it to your doctor. "You could also keep a diary of what happens, and the story of the abuse will show."
Try not to respond with violence. "Violence breeds more violence, and if you retaliate then this can make the abuser's violence worse," advises Ippo. "There's also the risk that they will call the police, and you will be seen as the abuser."
Where you can go for help
You don’t have to wait for an emergency situation to get help. You can:
- talk to your doctor
- call Men’s Advice Line free on 0808 801 0327 (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm), or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- in an emergency, call 999
The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential, freephone helpline for men who have experienced, or are experiencing, domestic abuse from their partners or ex-partners. It’s available to all men in the UK.
The Men’s Advice Line staff are trained to listen and look at ways of helping you. These might include:
- providing information and practical advice
- giving you time to talk through what’s happening
- signposting you to other specialist organisations, such as domestic violence units; mental health organisations; emotional support services; services for gay, bisexual and trans (GBT) men; and organisations providing immigration, housing and legal advice; parenting advice and support; and help with child contact issues
Forced marriage happens to men as well as women. For forced marriage and “honour” crimes, contact Karma Nirvarna (0800 5999 247) or The Forced Marriage Unit (020 7008 0151).
Broken Rainbow UK (0300 999 5428) provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence.
If you decide to leave
The first step in escaping an abusive situation is realising that you're not alone and it's not your fault. Try to get advice from an organisation such as the Men’s Advice Line or Mankind before you go.
If you're considering leaving, be careful who you tell. It's important that your partner doesn't know where you're going. Planning is very important. If you decide to leave, it will help to take:
- documents, including birth certificates for your children, passports, any medical records, benefits books, and mortgage or rent details
- your address book
- house keys
- if you have young children: baby items, some clothes and a special toy for each child
Men and women who have been sexually assaulted can get confidential help, treatment and support at a sexual assault referral centre. Find your nearest sexual assault referral centre.