It’s a depressingly familiar scene. Police at a family’s doorstep; a woman inside, tearful, bloodied and bruised; the officers were called because she was being attacked by her partner – now she won’t, or can’t, take the matter further and press charges.
Shocking – but perhaps not surprising. We know it happens often. But what if the victim in such a case was a man – a young man?
New statistics suggest that men in their early 20s are MORE likely to be abused by their partner than women the same age. It’s not a subject that’s much talked about.
The official definition of partner abuse includes non-physical forms like emotional bullying as well as physical force. But men in this age range have been on the receiving end of all forms, including sometimes severe violence.
Across most age ranges more women are abused than men. But analysis of the latest figures from the Home Office shows the problem is more evenly spread between the sexes in the early stages of a young relationship
So why are men in this age at such risk? Are 20-something women becoming more aggressive? Are men less able to defend themselves? And is this a taboo that’s now being talked about for the first time?
Mark Brooks from the men’s health charity Mankind reckons the issue of male domestic abuse is often ignored by the government, social services and the police. There simply isn’t enough help available for men, he says.
Reporting the crime carries risks too. Some men clearly feel that telling police can lead to the finger of blame being pointed at them. One, who wants to stay anonymous, texted us to say “ex girlfriend pushed me down the stairs ,i called the police and they locked me up for three hours and made me walk home with dislocated toes cos they did not believe me”. Others say they were threatened with assault charges – even though they were the victim.
The response from the Radio 1 audience appears to fit the stats, too: “She knocked me to the ground and then started punching, kicking and biting me.” Another one told us: “My ex broke my arm with a metal pole … when the police came round, I ended up being arrested.”
And perhaps most movingly: “My dad was stabbed to death by his girlfriend in a drunken unprovoked attack. She had been attacking him randomly for months. He would never talk to us about it but we knew she had a violent temper. He was a wonderful dad and we miss him every day. More should be done to encourage men to report domestic abuse.”