16 June 2019

Male victims of domestic violence often suffer in silence

A recent review has revealed the experience of many men, who are victims of domestic abuse, is similar to those of women.

Men who are victims of domestic violence find it hard to get help and the support they need, British researchers report.

"While both men and women are reluctant to seek professional help for their abuse, there is an added barrier for men voiced in these studies, that they may be falsely accused of being the perpetrator. The men also raised wider concerns about masculinity," said study co-author Dr Gene Feder, a professor of primary care at the University of Bristol.

Professional help

He and his colleagues reviewed studies of men in heterosexual and gay relationships.

They found that fears of not being believed or being accused of abuse were factors in not seeking help. Embarrassment and feeling "less of a man" were reported to be other barriers.

Men also worried about their partner and damaging their relationship as well as losing contact with their children. Still others were afraid of telling their family or friends, or getting professional help.

Many men didn't know that professional help was available, the study found, or thought that support services were for women only.

Some men only sought help when their situation became a crisis, the study found.

Serious health consequences

Those who decided to get help said confidentiality was important, as was seeing the same person over time and not being judged. Men preferred getting help from a woman.

"Our review has revealed that the experience of many men who are victims of domestic abuse is similar to those of women," Feder said in a university news release. "Like women, although male victims wanted the violence to stop, they did not necessarily want to end the relationship."

Domestic violence can have serious consequences on health and well-being. Researchers advise men who are being abused by a partner to seek help first from their primary care doctor, who can connect them with specialised services.

The report was published online in the journal BMJ Open.

Image credit: iStock


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