THE belief that Scottish men are “too macho” to talk about being subjected to domestic abuse is a myth, according to a men’s charity.
Aaron Slater of Abused Men in Scotland (AMIS), the only such designated service in Scotland, said that given the chance many men will grab the opportunity to discuss the “taboo” subject.
Slater, AMIS’s helpline and support manager at the Eric Liddell Centre in Edinburgh, said most men contacting the project were well educated and had researched the subject.
“Men will put up with a situation because of the mortgage and may be waiting until the kids grow up and go off to university,” he said. “That’s when they can snap and admit to themselves what’s happening.”
Matt Myles, 28, who won £1 million on the EuroMillions Lottery, spoke out last year after his former girlfriend was convicted of two charges of common assault against him.
“Domestic violence against men is still very much taboo or perceived as a joke but it’s no laughing matter for the victim,” said Myles on ITV’s This Morning programme.
Domestic violence against men is still very much taboo or perceived as a joke but it’s no laughing matter for the victimMatt Myles
The subject is seldom covered in drama, although recently BBC1’s Doctors featured a storyline where a male medic was physically and mentally abused by his female partner.
Scottish Government statistics show incidents with a female victim and a male perpetrator represented 79 per cent of all domestic abuse incidents in 2014-15. Over the past ten years, this has fallen from 87 per cent.
But the proportion of incidents with a male victim and female perpetrator increased from 11 per cent in 2005-6 to 18 per cent in 2014-15.
“The most common thing men want to discuss is emotional abuse,” said Slater.
“The stereotype is that domestic abuse is something men do to women and means physical violence. This way of thinking excludes men.
“As a society we are not too open about a female partner being abusive. People struggle with that. But emotional abuse can be a lot more destructive, eroding away at you over time. When men do have that space to talk they will talk about it.”
The project, set up in 2010 and partly funded by the National Lottery, has four staff including a national development officer paid for by the Scottish Government. It offers a telephone helpline for men of all sexual orientations but limited resources means it can only provide one-to-one counselling in Edinburgh.
Of those seeking help, 39 per cent were men in the 35-44 age range, 33 per cent between 25 and 34, 17 per cent 45-54, 10 per cent 55-64, and 1 per cent over 65.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There is no excuse for domestic abuse, regardless of the gender of the victim, and we are totally committed to working with partners to keep people safe and to hold perpetrators to account.
“Whilst the victims in 80 per cent of all domestic abuse incidents recorded in Scotland in 2014-15 were female, we recognise men can be victims of domestic abuse too, perpetrated either by women or in same sex relationships.
“Recognising male victims often require services provided with sensitivity and are tailored to their needs, which may not be the same as those of female victims. This government was the first to have made provision specifically for male victims of domestic abuse, including funding of over £120,000 this year alone.”