As men, these days it feels like we are really going through it: the pressure to perform, to provide, to get everything right - it can all be overwhelming, and even worse, it can keep us from being the fullest version of ourselves.
Previous research, policy and practice concerning domestic and sexual violence have tended to focus on heterosexual women (including black or minority ethnic women) who are victimised by male partners, family members, or other men. This is not surprising, as heterosexual women constitute the largest victim group (Walby and Allen, 2004).
However, it is increasingly recognised in both policy and practice that domestic and sexual violence occurs across all population groups. Men (whether heterosexual, black or minority ethnic and/ or gay or bisexual), lesbian or bisexual women and transgendered individuals may also experience domestic violence (Povey et al., 2008; Donovan and Hester, 2007; Home Affairs Select Committee, 2008)..
Since 2007 the availability of civil protection in the form of non-molestation and occupation orders have been extended to same sex couples in recognition of this. Men (whether heterosexual, GB and BME), BME and LB women, as well as transgendered individuals, may also experience sexual violence (Povey et al., 2008; Donovan and Hester, 2007).
For instance, domestic violence is defined by the Home Office as "any violence between current and former partners in an intimate relationship, wherever the violence occurs. The violence may include physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse."
Domestic violence occurs across society regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, wealth and geography (http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/violentcrime/dv03a.htm#4)
In the rest of the report BME will denote Black and minority ethnic, and LGBT will denote lesbian women, gay men, bisexual and transgendered individuals. Domestic Violence Crimes and Victims Act 2004, Part 1, section 3.
Exploring service and support needs
A wide range of services have worked hard to support female victims. A number of these and other specialist domestic and sexual violence services also cater to needs of both heterosexual and gay men, including those from BME communities, although it is not clear how widely this is recognised.
For example, Rape Crisis UK, currently has 38 member groups of which 13 offer services to male victims of sexual violence in England and Wales. The remaining 25 groups would also signpost male victims to relevant services in their local area(Bennett, 2009). Of the 491 services registered on UKRefugesonline (the National database of domestic violence services) 97 offer direct services to male victims of domestic violence with a further 17 offering direct services to perpetrators (UKROL, 2009). Out of the 500 services currently listed in the DABS handbook, which lists services that specialise in working with childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, childhood abuse, domestic violence and related issues, 255 services state that they offer specialist services to men countrywide.
The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) website lists 8 men only services within England out of a total of 34 specialist services (NAPAC, 2009).
The Need for the Group:
Domestic violence is a terrible curse to all those involved. It inflicts harm on the victim, the perpetrator and witnesses, whether they be children or not.
While support services have long been available to assist women and/or children overcome any issues that arise as a result of domestic violence, these services have left out a significant portion of victims, those that are male.