A Fleetwood-based group which helps male victims of child abuse, rape and domestic violence says there has been a marked increase in calls for help.
The Fylde Coast Men’s Support Association (FCMSA) says its helpline has been contacted by 258 individuals between November 2012 and November 2013 – a rise of 18 per cent on the previous year.
The Fleetwood man who founded the group, who chooses to be known only as Simon, says the increase is down to several factors.
He said: “Partly it is because the issue of male victims is slowly but surely being discussed more openly rather than being hidden. I think it is also because our group has received a higher profile and that is encourages victims to come forward as well.
“We are the referral group for GPs, mental health staff and victim support workers and we are now getting calls from the Fylde coast and also much further afield. It is good that people feel they can talk about this issue, because there is help there and they needn’t suffer in silence.
“But male victims struggle to get other kinds of support, which I think is unacceptable in this day and age.”
Simon also expects the number of domestic abuse calls to rise again – especially over Christmas period.
Simon, who was himself a victim of child abuse and rape, set up FCMSA 12 years ago because there was no other help group around.
The FCMSA is still the only support group of its kind in Lancashire.
He said: “For men affected by male rape, childhood sexual abuse and domestic abuse, it is a very neglected area.
“Many male victims, or survivors, find it extremely difficult to access support. That is because the vast majority of abuse, rape and domestic abuse services are not accessible to men.
“There are more male victims than many people would think, whether it be men who are attacked by their wives or female partners, or men attacked by their male partners, as well as men who were abused as children.
“It is estimated that one in four victims of rape are male, one in five men will become victims of domestic abuse in their lifetime, and one in six men will suffer domestic abuse from their partner or wife. Unfortunately our own research shows that 97 per cent of these cases go unreported to the police, for various reasons.”
The FCMSA offers a confidential helpline, group meetings, one-to-one listening sessions, outreach work and also training on all aspects of this sensitive subject.
Fortnightly support group meetings are held in Fleetwood on Sunday evenings between 7 and 9pm.
Fleetwood Town Council leader, Coun Alan Marsh.
He said: “These cases are now coming to light because more people are coming forward with complaints.
“Previously, many no doubt felt it difficult to come forward or doubted they would be believed. But after they have come forward to the police, there still needs to be help and support for them.
“Any organisation that provides that support has to be welcomed.”
For more details, call the helpline 07932 898274, Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm, or contact Simon on email@example.com.