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Most victims of domestic violence in Australia are women, with a man likely to have been the perpetrator. However, male domestic violence also needs to be taken seriously.
Perpetrators of violence against men include their wives, family members including extended family, new or former partners (including those in the LGTBI community), parents, children, siblings and carers.
Male victims of domestic violence often feel a sense of shame about being abused. These men need to know that they will be believed and supported. They also need to understand that the violence they have experienced is not their fault.
Experts in this field say using violence as a show of masculinity or strength is a societal attitude that needs to be changed.
Domestic violence against men can be physical, but it can also be a broad spectrum of behaviours which include: emotional, sexual, verbal, financial or mental abuse. When these behaviours occur in families or relationships where children are present, this can have a long- standing impact on them.
These behaviours can include:
An important step to take if you are the subject of male domestic violence is to accept and recognise that it is happening to you – not blame yourself - and take steps to break the cycle. Actions to consider include:
For those who have experienced male domestic violence and the police have been contacted, Relationships Australia (NSW) offers various services to help those experiencing violence or abuse in their relationships. Counselling and other support is available to those seeking ways to overcome the impact of this trauma and feel safe.
While domestic violence of any kind is unacceptable, it is important to highlight that there are support services to help men who are perpetrators such as the Taking Responsibility Program, an 18-week course.
The program aims to help men who have been abusive in their relationships and want to change that. It also provides support and courses for partners and anyone who may be affected by these abusive behaviours.
The men (and their families) who undertake programs such as Taking Responsibility need to be supported; including that they not be stigmatised for putting their hand up and asking for help.
Experts in the field say these men can find it difficult to tell anyone they are enrolled in a men’s behaviour change program for fear of being harshly judged; though the good news is that the number of men participating in these programs is on the increase.