The number of Lancashire men reporting abuse has risen by almost a fifth in just one year, but as STEF HALL reports, police and charities believe this figure is just the tip of the iceberg, and many more attacks go unreported
The number of men reporting domestic abuse in Lancashire has spiralled by almost a fifth in a year, figures show today.
Lancashire Police has revealed 5,604 men told them they were an abuse victim in 2016 – compared to 4,817 the previous year.
The figures emerged following a Freedom of Information request by Ian McNicholl, domestic abuse survivor and an ambassador for the ManKind Initiative, which supports male victims of domestic abuse.
The charity believes the figures are the tip of a much bigger iceberg as the Home Office reports male victims are more than three times as likely as women to not tell anyone about partner abuse.
Only 10 per cent of male victims will tell the police as a comparison to 27 per cent of women, and statistically are far more likely to perceive that what happened to them was not domestic abuse.
The charity is hoping the figures will encourage more men to come forward, to campaign for professionals to address the needs of men and make sure their services are male friendly.
The figures come at a time when there are barely any places of safety available for men fleeing abuse – though Lancashire is bucking the trend by operating three units to provide safe accommodation to male victims.
In May 2016, a lifeline was thrown to male victims as the county’s first refuge places for men were officially launched by charity Safenet.
The safe house, which is open to men from all over Lancashire, has been full since it was first made available as a pilot scheme.
It has had more than 10 referrals, and housed five men in its three units.
Today Ian McNicholl said: “These figures show there are males right across Lancashire who have come forward and told the police.”
“Therefore if you are experiencing domestic abuse or suffering from the symptoms of domestic abuse, you are not alone and help is out there for you. Please don’t be like me, please call Lancashire Constabulary or speak with friends and/or family and get the help you need.
“I can assure you that the action you take today will be life changing, if could even be lifesaving. I never came forward to the police when I was experiencing abuse and it nearly cost me my life.”
Mark Brooks, chairman of the ManKind Initiative, said: “The number of males coming forward to the police sends a clear reminder to those who come into contact and support victims of domestic abuse across Lancashire that they must ensure there are properly resourced support services for male victims.”
“This includes making sure staff are fully trained to look for and spot the signs in a male victim, know how to help and who or where to get help from, making proper assessments of their risk and needs which could include adequate emergency housing provision or obtaining injunctions.
“It is also important that there are more awareness campaigns to encourage men to come forward and also to change society’s view that men cannot be victims of domestic abuse.”
Responding to the figures, a spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “These figures highlight domestic abuse is not exclusive to age, gender, social background or profession. It can happen to anyone from any community and in any walk of life.
“We know male victims often feel embarrassed and just accept their situation which can lead to victims not coming forward to seek help and report their abuser.
“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. They may also worry that they won’t be believed.
“Domestic abuse is serious whether it happens to a man or woman. You don’t need to suffer in silence; there is help out there for all victims. You can find lots of advice on our website by searching ‘domestic abuse’.”
Mankind Initiative - 01823 334244
Safenet - 07866 510 728
Men’s Advice Line - 0808 801 0327
Fylde Coast Men’s Support Association - 07932 898274