Domestic violence against men

Monday May 28th 2018

Domestic violence against men

Written by Pauline Winchester, Conservative councillor Midlothian West

Domestic violence in any form is abuse. Yet still people sometimes don’t realise that they are victims of this abuse and it can take some time, and many violent instances to realise that the situation is not going to get better, is not going to change and that they need to leave and start again on their own. Sadly some people don’t leave in time and the situation results in serious injury or death. I was lucky, I escaped a violent partnership before I suffered serious harm.

We hear a lot in the press about domestic violence, but it is mainly about violence towards women. The still unspoken domestic violence is against men. We all know that there are volunteer groups that support women, but what happens when a man suffers domestic violence?

One such man living in Midlothian is on a campaign to raise the profile of this still unmentioned violence. He had been in a violent partnership and had to leave with his children. He came to me asking me if I knew anything about the subject and other than the normal reading around the situation I had to confess that I had never met someone in his situation or even heard of one.

My first suggestion was to contact the Lothian Region Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour. Jeremy lodged a question about the subject in the Scottish Parliament asking for details on how much funding men’s groups receive in Scotland to support domestic abuse and to let him know which organisations these are.

The written answer was as follows:

“The Scottish Government recognises that domestic abuse is an abuse of human rights, and is committed to preventing and eradicating it in Scotland. All survivors of domestic abuse deserve access to support.”

Great start by the Scottish Government and everyone should be pleased to hear the above statement. They go on to say:

“In terms of funding for supporting survivors, we provide nearly £85,000 (over 2017-2020) to run the Respect Helpline, which signposts male survivors of domestic abuse to support services, over £3 million to ASSIST (over 2017-2020) to provide advocacy support to male survivors of domestic abuse in the Lothians, and £360,000 (2017-2018) to the Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline to support victims and survivors. We also provide £180,000 (over 2017-2020) to White Ribbon Scotland to encourage men to challenge gender-based violence in all its forms.”

They then go on to provide figures for the amount of money they provide to work with the perpetrators of violence. Those groups receive approximately £5 million per annum.

So on the face of it, it comes across as though the Scottish Government are doing all they can to help male victims of Domestic Abuse. But let’s break down those figures and look at the groups that are mentioned.

‘Respect’ is the first funding stream mentioned. Respect is NOT just a group for men who suffer domestic abuse. It’s actually a group for the men that are the abusers as well as having a men’s advice line. From the Scottish Government’s answer they receive approximately £20,000 per annum.

The next group mentioned is ASSIST. I have looked at their literature and although they don’t specifically mention not helping men they point their contacts towards support services such as Women’s Aid. They are also a Strathclyde based group – so nothing for the Lothian region there.

What we can see from the response to the question around funding for male support groups, is that perpetrator groups (who run perpetrator programmes) receive vast sums over 3-4 years to run a helpline. Thereafter other groups either deal with ALL victims or deal with encouraging men to help end domestic violence against women.

Not one specific group for male victims receives funding from the Scottish Government. Abused Men In Scotland (AMIS) are the only group to address the gap in service provision for men suffering from Domestic Abuse – but as you can see from the Scottish Government reply, they do not receive any funding.

In both England and Wales the statistics for male victims reporting domestic violence has increased by 41% in recent years. Why then does Scotland have such minimal rates?

One answer is that other devolved areas classify male victims as ‘hard to reach groups’ and design promotions and efforts to encourage them to report. But Scotland does nothing. This is further alienating an already hard to reach group. Where would a man go to for support in the Lothian regions? What help would they receive? What refuge can they go to with their children to escape a violent partner?

The Justice Secretary Michael Matheson promotes the new Domestic Abuse Bill as being the best thing for women and is promising additional funding to the core funding of £370,000 per year to the Scottish Women’s Aid National Office. Where is the funding for any male organisation? Where is his understanding of that unspoken area of male domestic abuse?

I am not saying that less money should go to Women’s Aid, but I and the resident who came to me is asking for SOME money to go specifically to help men suffering in silence with domestic abuse in Scotland. A group specifically for men with all the problems that come with the situation they find themselves in.

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