Here to help you - two articles by an IDVA supporting men experiencing domestic abuse

1. Alan from BESBWA explains their specialist service for male victims

How long does it take for a man to report domestic abuse? Well how long is a piece of string? Will anyone believe him?

My name is Alan and I am a male IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advocate) working for Berkshire East and South Bucks Women’s Aid. I work with Ben who is our Outreach worker and we specialise in supporting male victims of domestic abuse.

What does an IDVA do? We provide confidential support to clients who have been graded as High Risk. This may include assistance with safety measures, supporting through court processes, signposting to legal advice for criminal, civil and child matters, liaising with housing teams, and sourcing refuge space. Our priority is your safety.

We work with a team of 12 IDVAs, mainly female, but all of who will support any male referred to the organisation. We have no boundaries. Our working area is Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, Ascot and South Buckinghamshire.

Now, you may be thinking, well what use is that to me, I live in Manchester and need support!

Don’t panic. Ben and I will assist any male looking for support. If you reside outside of our County Boundary, we are happy to research the appropriate support group nearest to where you reside. Nothing is too much trouble for us.

Who will believe me?

We will.

We’ll give you an example.

Brian (name changed) was arrested on suspicion of stabbing his partner in the neck. The Police arrived and arrested him on suspicion of assault. He called the Police and he called the ambulance. He waited for them to arrive and was promptly arrested. He was legally advised to say no comment. Based on that, the CPS could only evaluate the evidence to hand, that being the statement from the victim. She said he had stabbed her in the neck. He was charged and bailed.

Brian tried looking for help, knowing the reality behind the incident. Locally to his home address he was not offered support but a relative gave him our number. I supported Brian who disclosed three years of assault, controlling behaviour and injury. Is any of that evidenced anywhere I asked? Yes with the GP but I did not tell them how the injury came about. This information was shared and an innocent man, defending himself while being attacked by his partner with her kitchen knife, no longer faces a criminal prosecution. A great outcome for someone who, for three years, had suffered in silence.

So we do believe you

If you need help or advice, give us a call. 01753 549865 and ask for Alan or Ben. If we are not available, please speak with any of the IDVA’s in the first instance. We have Eastern European speaking staff as well as a variety of Asia Pacific speaking staff.

2. Alan from BESBWA explains how the Courts can help you and the importance of evidence

Domestic abuse against males has in the past 12 months been publicised more than ever before. As an IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advocate) I have worked with many men whose opening lines to me have been “This is the hardest thing I have ever had to admit”.

You are not alone! This is probably one of the biggest hidden secrets in society. The reporting and recognition of male domestic abuse is probably 20 years plus, behind where female reporting is today. The other comment I hear frequently is “I am supposed to be the man in this relationship and I am ashamed”.

Ashamed of what? What your own friends and family will say? Never be ashamed because I suspect you have experienced the abuse for many years and are only just seeking the help when you are at a very low point in your life and do not know where to turn. Start by talking about it in confidence to someone, not a close friend but possibly a HR manager if you are in employment or someone like an IDVA. One in six men will experience domestic abuse, so as I say, you are by no means alone.

What am I afraid of? Not being allowed to see my kids, losing my house, leaving my social circle? It is very common in social circles, for others to identify a dominant partner, male or female, but it is also common to recognise the signs of an abuser. The word abuser is not too strong when considering all the aspects of domestic abuse. The public in general, look at domestic abuse as a physical assault. It’s not. There are many strands to the abuse which are described very well on this website. Control is one of those strands and believe me, many of my clients, men, are completely controlled by their partner, to the extent they have no money, no bank account and no real individual identity.

So what can you do when your world is collapsing around you through domestic abuse when you are in a house with an abusive partner, a joint mortgage or tenancy, and you have children from the relationship?

Let me deal with the housing first. If you need to flee a property for your own safety and even that of your children, taking them with you, you are able to present at any council in the UK as homeless, fleeing domestic abuse. The council at which you present, has a duty of care to you under the Housing Act 1996 Part 7, to provide you a place of safety, and this is generally a bed and breakfast for the immediate period of time. The council then has 33 days in which they have to investigate if they have a duty of care to you. There are certain criteria you have to meet, such as being unintentionally homeless, which you are by fleeing a property from abuse. Do not present at your nearest council offices because they will inform you that if you are fleeing abuse, you need to be several boroughs away so the abuser cannot easily find you. Your safety is paramount.

Can I take my children? Well if you have parental rights then you have just as much right to be in charge of your children as your partner. And I would suggest that if she is the abuser, you consider the children’s safety when leaving. A woman with children, nearly always leaves the home with the children where the male is the abuser.

Attitudes by regulatory bodies need to change. I have clients who have fled violent relationships and Social Services have attended the following day only to be happy with the female abuser looking after the children! If you are contemplating leaving the abusive relationship and you have children, always be sure that what you are doing is in the children’s best interests and for no other reason. If you have parental rights, you do have equal rights.

Now, if you are experiencing abuse, apart from leaving, you can apply to the County Courts for various protective measures, such as a non-molestation order, a prohibited steps order, and an occupation order. You can also apply for a residence order and I will explain all of these in turn.

A non-molestation order is granted by a county court ordering an alleged abuser to stop carrying out a course of conduct, such as contacting, harassing, contacting through a third party etc. It is an order telling the person to stop a certain course of conduct.

A prohibited steps order is applied for to restrict the parental responsibility of one parent and can be used to prevent a child being removed from the country. So if you are in a relationship where your partner originates from outside the UK, it is often advisable to apply for such an order if there is a suggestion or suspicion they may remove the child from the UK. Probibited steps orders can also be used to prevent a child from being moved to a different school or area of the country.

An occupation order informs one party that until further notice, usually until it is contested, they are not allowed to reside in the family home and a residence order decides where a child is to live and who they are to live with.

What you do need for all of these orders is evidence. For a Non-Molestation order, the most recent abuse must have occurred in the previous four weeks. If you believe you are experiencing domestic abuse, keep a diary and evidence what is happening to you. If you cannot speak with anyone around you about what is happening, speak to your GP. They will not disclose to anyone what is happening, unless you ask them to. By telling your GP where your injuries come from, why you are depressed etc., you are building an evidence trail which, later down the line, believe me, can help you no end. Just read Brian’s Story above. His GP saved him.

All of these orders are easily applied for in a county court and copies of the forms can be downloaded from the NCDV website at www.ncdv.org.uk. The NCDV will also offer you free legal advice.

If you need to speak with an IDVA, give us a call on 01753 549865 and ask for Alan or Ben. If we are not available, please speak with any of the IDVA’s in the first instance. We have Eastern European speaking staff as well as a variety of Asia Pacific speaking staff.

If you need refuge space, we can assist you with that too.