Is a man you know being abused at home?

It’s hard to know what to do when you’re concerned that a male friend or relative may be being abused, especially if they’re uncomfortable opening up about their situation.

Your instinct might be to protect your loved one. Particularly if you’re a parent or a close relative, it can be distressing to think of them being hurt.

It often isn’t possible to stop the abuse yourself. That’s why we’re here to help.

If you witness an assault, call 999.

It can be helpful to understand how an abused man might be feeling, and how his experience might be different to what we imagine.

  • An abused man is often overwhelmed by fear, which can govern his every move. He might be afraid of violence, his safety and the safety of his children.
  • He might believe that he’s at fault and that by changing his behaviour the abuse will stop.
  • He might love his partner, but hate the violence and abuse. He could live in hope that his abuser’s ‘good side’ will reappear. He may want to help his partner change.
  • He might be dependent upon his partner, emotionally and financially.
  • He may experience feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment.
  • He may find it hard to make decisions about his future.

Do

  • Keep in contact. You could start a conversation with, ‘I’m worried about you because…’ or, ‘I’m concerned about your safety’. If he doesn’t respond, don’t give up.
  • Listen and believe. Often people don’t believe men when they first disclose abuse.
  • Keep your conversations light and centred around your friendship.
  • Reassure him that the abuse is not his fault.
  • Keep an open mind and be non-judgemental.
  • Acknowledge his strengths and keep reminding him that he’s coping well with a challenging and stressful situation.
  • Remember the barriers to him leaving. You may question why he’s staying in the relationship, but understand that it takes huge strength and courage to leave. He needs to make the decision in his own time.
  • Leaving is often a very dangerous time, when violence and abuse escalates. Understand that careful planning is needed and help if you can.
  • Look after yourself and use your own network of support.
  • Call the Men’s Advice Line if you have any further questions, or encourage him to call.

Don’t

  • Tell the person what to do or give ultimatums.
  • Become angry, offended or hurt by no action being taken.
  • Be judgmental or impose expectations of them leaving or taking action.
  • Confront the abuser or victim. Doing so could cause isolation, harm and contact to end.
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