Domestic abuse against men is Yorkshire's 'biggest taboo' with thousands too ashamed to report horrifying crime

Domestic abuse and violence against men in Yorkshire is the county's "biggest taboo" experts have warned with thousands of victims too ashamed to report what has happened to them due to the stigma surrounding the crime.

Statistics released to The Yorkshire Post by the male support charity ManKind have revealed one in three victims of domestic abuse is men, with tens of thousands offences victims in the county every year.

There has also been a rise in the number of men presenting to support services with alcohol issues, substance misuse and mental health issues as a result of experiencing domestic violence, charities have revealed.

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Latest figures reveal police forces across Yorkshire received 18,646 reports of domestic abuse and violence where men were the victim in 2017/18.

Experts have also warned that men living in rural communities are at a further disadvantage due to close-knit communities facilitating the abuse, albeit not intentionally and support services scare and less available.

Lori Bush, ManKind Initiative's Charity Manager, said: "Domestic abuse against men is more common than people think. It remains one of Britain's last great taboos.

"Many men do not recognise what is happening to them is domestic abuse and also have a real shame about what is happening to them . Many fear they won't be believed or there is no help. However, we are seeing more men coming forward and better support when they do.

"If a man needs help, there is support available and men can escape."

A Freedom of Information request revealed there were 11,387 male victims of domestic abuse and violence in the West Yorkshire Police force area during 2017/18, followed by 4,233 in South Yorkshire, 2030 in the Humberside Police area and 996 in North Yorkshire - although figures are expected to be higher due to the high volume of offences not reported.

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, 7.2 per cent of men suffered from domestic abuse, with 5.1 per cent suffering from partner abuse.

Rachel Chadwick, manager of Men Standing Up (MSU) - a service supporting male survivors of domestic abuse across the country, believes that despite the high number of victims, there is a gap in men's awareness and understanding of what constitutes domestic violence and abuse.

She said: "A key misunderstanding is that domestic violence only means physical violence. Men do not recognise that abuse can be financial and emotional.

"Power and control aspects of domestic violence have not been recognised and this is important because coercive control makes up a large proportion of domestic abuse and is considered to be an important risk factor for domestic suicide.

"We have seen over the past few years the number of complex needs cases increase. We have seen an increase in men presenting with alcohol issues, substance misuse and mental health issues.

"We have also been working with men who have experienced sexual abuse.

"Our staff have widened their knowledge and training in order to support these men with complex issues and we are working with more external specialist agencies in order to support our service users.

Recent research by the National Rural Crime Network claims that while the number of domestic violence offences recorded per 1,000 people in rural areas is lower, this is because victims are less likely to report the crime to police.

Julia Mulligan, Chair of the National Rural Crime Network and North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said a lack of understanding and stigma is preventing men from coming forward.

She said: “When our researchers were investigating domestic abuse in rural areas, we did include male victims, but unfortunately we found few were willing to speak. I am concerned about this and have ensured we have in place support services for male victims. There can also be a lack of understanding about the issue among the authorities and organisations who could help, which needs addressing.

“The Yorkshire Post is absolutely right to highlight this issue and I hope it leads to more men reporting this crime and receiving support. So please, if you are affected, please come forward. Whoever you are, wherever you area, victims deserve better than to suffer in silence.”