Male victims of domestic violence suffering in silence

Male victims of domestic violence in Brighton & Hove are suffering in silence. A review of local and national research by The Men’s Network reveals that, when compared with female victims, men are:

  • Less likely to realise they are a victim
  • Less likely to tell anyone about the abuse
  • Less likely to tell the police
  • Less likely to get a conviction
  • Less likely to access local support services

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Men less likely to realise they are a victim

According to analysis of recent British Crime Surveys men account for more than 40% of victims of domestic violence victims.

However, men are half as likely to report the crime to the police.

This trend appears to be replicated in Brighton & Hove where 22% of incidents of domestic violence reported to the police involve a male victim.

One of the barriers that prevents male victims from getting help is that they don’t recognize what is happening to them is a crime.

According to the Home Office, when victims name what happens to them as domestic violence they are more likely to seek help. For men 59% of victims do not define what happens as ‘domestic violence’ compared with 25% of female victims.

Men Less Likely To Tell Anyone About The Abuse

Male victims of domestic violence are five times less likely than female victims to define themselves as a victim of crime, with only 10% of men who sustain a minor injury at the hands of their partners calling the event a crime compared with 53% of female victims.

Men Less Likely To Tell The Police

The majority of male victims (63%) tell no-one about the most serious case of domestic violence compared to 31% of female victims. And for female victims the police are 3 times as likely to come to know about the worst case of domestic violence (23% for women; 8% for men).

This means that in 92% of cases the police do not come to know about the worse case of domestic violence a male victim experiences.

Men Less Likely To Get A Conviction

For many years the position of charities representing male victims of domestic violence has been that the police do not take male victims as seriously as female victims. They report that many male victims who call the police to their homes end up being arrested themselves.

These charities also acknowledge that the situation has begun to improve in recent years with the number of women convicted of perpetrating domestic abuse nationally rising five fold over a seven year period from 806 (2004/05) to 3,965 (2010/11).

However the case remains that male victims are still less likely to report domestic violence to the police and when they do they are less likely to get a conviction.

In Brighton & Hove for example 13% of recorded incidents involving a male victim result in a charge, compared with 30% for female victims.

Where a crime is detected, 72% of incidents with female victims result in the perpetrator being charged compared with 38% for offences with male victims.

Although male victims are half as likely to report to the police (and half as likely to see their abuser charged when they do) – a significant minority of male victims are now showing up in the criminal justice system locally with 240 incidents involving male victims being reported to Brighton & Hove police every year.

Men Less Likely To Access Local Support Services

There is currently no dedicated support service for male victims of female domestic violence in Brighton. There are services for male perpetrators and since 2010 there has been a service for gay male victims.

This is reflected in local funding allocations. According to the local PCT 2008/2009 review of how funding is allocated in the city:

  • Women’s projects receives £1,904,288
  • Domestic Violence projects received £743,440
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender  (LGBT) projects received £375,928
  • Men’s projects (exclude projects for GBT men) received £1,500

We have been unable to find any evidence so far that any of £743,440 spent in the city on domestic violence being allocated to dedicated services for male victims of female violence.

In 2010/2011 our city commissioned its most comprehensive review of domestic violence services ever resulting in 316-page needs assessment for commissioners.

The research was predominantly focussed on the needs of female victims in our city, drawing on focus group research with women but not men, for example. However, it does provide some idea of what is happening for male victims at a local level.

In terms of support services, the local domestic violence needs assessment reveals the number of men being helped and supported by other services in the city is negligible, for example:

  • Out of 488 Brighton & Hove residents who received a service from the local Rise domestic violence charity 15 (3%) were men
  • 18% of domestic homicide victims are male yet only 2.4% of people identified as being at ‘very high-risk’ of homicide by local agencies are men. Of 125 victims whose cases were dealt with by a MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) only 3 were men
  • While the local Rise helpline for women supports 190 callers a month, the National Men’s Advice Line supports 1 male caller a month from Brighton & Hove
  • While 15 male perpetrators completed an Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme (IDAP) and 51 female victims were supported by the parallel women’s safety service – there is no corresponding service for female perpetrators and/or male victims

There is clearly a need for a dedicated service for male victims in Brighton & Hove

The domestic violence needs assessment also reveals that sufficient male victims are already being identified by local services to begin providing referrals to a local male-specific service for example:

  • 20 incidents involving a male victim are reported to the police every month
  • Around 20 male victims apply for legal aid locally every year
  • CRI’s brief intervention service for people with alcohol problems identifies 2 male victims of domestic violence every month with the aim of referring them to an appropriate specialist domestic violence service

At present, existing services have nowhere to refer these men locally other than to a helpline for female victims. And yet the local Domestic Violence Needs Assessment stresses the need for separate male-specific services run by different staff:

“Interventions with women and men need to be separate, safe and different for victims and for perpetrators. For example, services for male victims should be provided in a separate location to women’s services”.

The needs assessment also stresses the importance of specialist services being able to identify male victims effectively: “If victims/survivors are incorrectly identified as perpetrators, this decreases their access to appropriate protection and reduces their trust in helping agencies”.



Glen Poole is UK co-ordinator for International Men's Day, Director at the consultancy Helping Men and news editor of insideMAN magazine. Follow him on twitter @HelpingMen or find out more about his work at

Posted in NEWS, News From The Men's Network
One comment on “Male victims of domestic violence suffering in silence
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