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A third of domestic abuse victims are men – they must not be ignored

Peter Hook has come forward with allegations of domestic abuse from recently deceased ex-wife Caroline Aherne. Society’s reaction to the allegations is crucial.

Domestic abuse is one of the last great taboo subjects in Great Britain – for men. Male domestic abuse victims are one of the most marginalized groups in society, and one with the least voice. The way society reacts to Hook’s allegations will be a great indicator of the way victims of abuse will be treated if they so happen to be male.

Despite being a wide-scale problem across the country, it is an issue widely forgotten, ignored, or both. One in three domestic abuse victims are men. This is a huge section of victims that need help every bit as much as women. Every single abuse victim is entitled to a voice, support and protection and male victims simply are not getting this. This is an inequality that needs to be faced for the safety of men everywhere.

However, not only are men less able to come forward (due to a lack of helplines or ones solely focused on female victims), they are much less likely to come forward. From a masculine point of view, it is very difficult for men to admit they have been beaten up by a woman. Many accounts on the support website ‘Mankind’ tell of men feeling ashamed or embarrassed to report their abusive partners to the police. This means that a lot of abuse will go unrecorded and the issue becomes even more invisible and the problem worsens.

This is why Hook’s bravery means big things for the future of male victims. Like all change, it has to start at the top. It has to be treated seriously, and recognised as an issue that deserves attention. Government policy must also adapt to taking male abuse seriously. Most local councils have strategies and pledges to reduce domestic abuse – for women. In Britain there are around 4000 spaces at refuges for women fleeing abusive households – this compares with just 78 spaces for men. Of that 78, only 33 are dedicated to males – the rest can be used for either gender.

In our modern times of growing equality between the sexes, this simply is not good enough. Local councils must devise strategies and dedicate more rooms to male victims. Every victim of abuse is entitled to support. Men in turn should recognise that they are able to come forward and never to associate shame with their emotional pain. It is up to society to bring standards of equality up to the mark.

And we can do that by praising Peter Hook’s courage and recognising it as an important beacon for male victims everywhere. One in six men will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime. We must be there for them. We must listen to their stories. Above all we must support them. Throughout society we must accept that men cry too.

Image credit: George Hodan

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