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News Briefing - January 2022

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Male Victims of Domestic Abuse

Distortion of issue
Although recognised for many centuries, the problem of domestic violence first became a real political issue in western societies in the early 1970s. In the UK, Erin Pizzey founded in Chiswick in 1971 the first refuge for abused women and their children in Britain. She was later to write that “of the first 100 women who came to the refuge, 61 were as violent or as violent prone as the men they had left”.

Since then, the issue has been polarised and distorted, largely by sexual politics, into female victims and male perpetrators. Government and public policies and funding in the UK are still largely based on this perception.

This, despite the wealth of academic studies published worldwide in the past three decades, coupled with successive government studies in the past twenty years, all showing a significant level of female aggression or abuse in intimate relationships. Such studies suggest that, in intimate couple relationships affected by abusive behaviour, women initiate this against male partners in about a quarter of cases, men in another quarter, and the rest is mutual.

Although women tend to be more harmed or frightened by violent abuse, and are more likely to be injured or victims of repeated assaults, significant proportions of male victims are also severely assaulted and about one third of those injured are men.


Male victims
The prescription of domestic violence as a woman’s problem, and not a social problem affecting both sexes and their children, is now strongly entrenched in societal attitudes in most western democracies including the UK. It extends particularly to Government, local authorities and other public bodies, including police forces, social agencies, children’s charities, and even the judiciary.

The result has been to largely ignore or subordinate the plight of male victims, and consequently support services for them are hugely inferior to those in place for female victims and geographically totally inadequate.

This public indifference to them, not only deters many male victims from reporting intimate abuse against them, even when they have suffered severe violence, but also reinforces stereotypical attitudes towards them by police forces and social agencies, so that if they do report, they are often disbelieved or ridiculed. Indeed, surveys of male victims have reported that about one in five male victims are themselves arrested and not the female assailant.


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