The Shame Factor; Domestic Violence Is Not Solely a Female Issue - Men Can Be Victims Too, Explains MEP Liz Lynne

Article excerpt

Byline: Liz Lynne

Afew years ago a friend of mine started to have accidents.

They would consistently have cuts or bruises and seemed to have lost the normal energy and spirit which so many people loved about them.

It was clear to me that something was wrong. I confronted them and was met with a tearful confession - my friend was a victim of domestic violence. I immediately told them that they needed to go to the police and press charges. I firmly believe that there is never an excuse for violence and that those who bully and abuse should face punishment.

My friend looked at me: "I can't go to the police," they said, "they wouldn't believe me." It was then it struck me. My friend was not the type of person that people normally perceive to be the victim of domestic violence - my friend was male.

Eventually, thankfully, my friend left his wife after she had pushed him through a plate-glass window. But ever since I have been appalled and ashamed that he had to be pushed to such extremes before the threat to his safety outweighed the difficulty of coming forward.

He, like many men, was a victim of a crime hidden behind a social stereotype that says a man who is abused by their wife or partner cannot be a real man. The fact is that domestic violence, in all its forms, is one of the most cowardly and detestable crimes occurring in both the UK and indeed the rest of Europe today.

Behind far too many closed doors lie examples of appalling brutality, mental torture and physical abuse.

The overall issue of domestic violence does not go unheard. We regularly see celebrities, experts and politicians appearing in the media to condemn the crime. We also see governments and legislators at a local, national and European level attempting to create programmes that aim to prevent the violence and aid the victims.

These campaigns and projects, however, are targeted solely at women. It is true that we need serious action to stop domestic violence against women and it is something I have been campaigning on for years.

We mustn't ignore the fact that men can be victims too. When I have raised this point in the past I have been met with scepticism. I have been told the problem is too small to be of any real concern. When met with this, I have often thought back to my friend, too ashamed to go to the police or admit the problem and it has made me ask - is this issue really as small as we think?

It was this question which made me decide that more must be done to tackle domestic violence against men. I started to look into it and discovered some research done by the UK-based charity Mankind. Mankind are the biggest UK charity involved with domestic violence against men though they are sadly under-funded. In 2006 they did some research surrounding the calls they receive through their hotline. The results were deeply concerning.

According to Mankind's study, as much as 40 per cent of all domestic violence may actually be committed against men. …