The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is: any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:
Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
Gender and Domestic Abuse / Violence
Most of the statistics you’ll see suggest that women are more likely to be a victim of domestic violence than men. Certainly it has been shown that women are more likely to suffer greater physical damage in a violent partner relationship. However, more comprehensive studies of domestic abuse and violence suggest that most domestic abuse and violence is reciprocal i.e. both parties are engaging in abusive and/or violent behaviour. It has been shown that men and women are equally likely to initiate and reciprocate in violence towards each other and that motivations for abuse and violence were often the same between men and women, debunking the idea that IPV is a gendered crime.
In addition, Male victims are over three times less likely as women to tell anyone about the partner abuse they are suffering from. Often male victims of domestic abuse will not speak out with around 70% reporting that they would not disclose to a service that was not anonymous. Societal stigma and cultural upbringing can make it difficult for a man to admit they are a victim of intimate partner abuse.
There is still a societal view that men abuse and women are victims. It is often seen as a joke if a man is a victim of violence or abuse from a female partner. As long as this message is perpetuated, male victims of domestic abuse will continue to be silenced.
Currently there is very little support for men and those of a gender other than female. In February 2016 there were only 18 organisations in the UK offering refuge to male victims, offering around 70 spaces, of which 24 were dedicated to male DV victims only (the others being made available to other genders). There are no refuge or safe houses in London for male victims at this time. There is next to no refuge provision for trans victims Nationwide. Many rough sleepers (both men and women) do so to escape partner abuse.
It is reported that when a man accesses some support channels for victims of domestic abuse it is likely that he will be screened to assess whether he is in fact the perpetrator. This does not happen when women access the same support. Many male victims of partner abuse experience false accusation leading to consequent arrest as the perpetrator of the abuse. Many men feel that nobody will believe them, they are often correct.
Men can also suffer abuse.