You aren’t alone.
Abuse of men and male victims of domestic abuse are much more common than people think. Here are some stories of men who have been in similar situations to you.
When Darren called the Men’s Advice Line, the Advisor knew straight away that he was very upset. Darren said that his childhood friend had told him that he was experiencing domestic abuse, but he wasn’t sure. He said his girlfriend had never hit him, but that friends were worried that he was becoming increasingly isolated. He said she was his ‘first love’ and that he would do anything to make her happy. He would accept not seeing his friends as much as he used to, particularly the female friends that his girlfriend would go into a jealous rage about. He spoke of taking out credit cards to cover her debts as proof of his love for her.
Darren appreciated that the Advisor listened to him without judgement and believed him. He said that it helped to say out loud some of the things that were happening with his girlfriend, as he had no other relationship to compare with and his parents had divorced when he was young. He acknowledged how insecure he felt when she threatened to go off with other men and how hard he tried to please her. He was pleased to hear that he could call the Men’s Advice Line again.
Mark called the Men’s Advice Line the moment he was released from police custody. His wife, Lisa, had made a false allegation. As there was no evidence, the police told Mark that no further action would be taken. When they first got together, things were great. They would spend a lot of time with each other and they eventually moved in together after 9 months.
During that time Mark noticed that Lisa would find ways to stop him spending time with his family or friends whom he was close to. Mark thought this was a little strange.
Three months after moving in together their son Billy was born. Lisa’s was finding it very difficult to cope while Mark was at work. She demanded that he was only to go to work and come home. Lisa also began checking up on him at work and started to become aggressive when he did not respond to her immediately. She would also criticise Mark for not helping her enough and make him feel bad for this. She started to call him a useless father and that he did not care for her or their son. Mark had always tried to calm the situation, but Lisa would make things worse and blame him for how she behaved.
Mark’s family and friends started to notice that he was withdrawn. When Mark’s brother spoke to him about his concerns, Mark would deny this and say things like “Lisa is really stressed” or “I need to help her out a bit more”. Mark knew deep inside that things were not ok, but he could not bear to be without Billy and would not want him to grow up without a father.
On the night he got arrested Mark had planned to go to a friend’s birthday. Lisa was trying to make Mark feel guilty for going. Mark decided that he would still go out. Lisa then lunged towards Mark and hit him on the back of his head and started to attack him more. Mark was trying to get away from Lisa and he held her by the wrists. Lisa blamed him for her actions and said that if he told anyone she would leave and Mark would never see Billy again.
Mark went to his parent’s house. Fearing that Mark may end up reporting Lisa, she contacted the police and informed them that Mark had assaulted her. Mark was arrested at his parent’s home then taken into custody.
The Police Officers noticed that Mark had significant bruises and realised that he was the one assaulted in this incident. They asked him if he would like to press charges against Lisa, but he declined as he did not want her to get into any trouble. Mark was released with no further action. The police gave Mark the contact details for the Men’s Advice Line so he could get some support.
The Advisor didn’t try to put pressure on Mark to leave Lisa against his wishes. Instead, explained to Mark that he had options around child contact and it wasn’t up to Lisa to never see Billy again. The Advisor also gave Mark advice on how to remove himself from a situation such as the recent argument. Mark was also given the details of a local domestic abuse service for further support should he need it.
Mark was grateful that there was support for him. He was pleased that someone took the time to listen to him and believed him.
Joe called the Men’s Advice Line after a friend advised him to. He was nervous about the call and didn’t know what to expect. Joe explained to the Advisor that he and his wife, Valerie, had had a very happy marriage for 50 years; they had raised children and had grandchildren whom they loved dearly. Over the last year, Valerie started drinking a glass of wine before bed. Joe noticed that this rapidly began to increase and within 5 months Valerie was drinking a bottle a day. Joe felt that this was Valerie’s way of dealing with her recent decrease in mobility, which meant that she could not walk for long and needed support from Joe with getting around.
Valerie began spending more and more time in the house. She would shout at Joe, ordering him to help her complete tasks. If she felt he was taking too long, she would often strike him when he came back into the room; sometimes this would be with her hand, other times with any object that was within her reach.
Joe was sad for Valerie and felt that as her husband it was his duty to support her. He was also feeling useless as Valerie would often tell him that he was worthless. Every time he told her how she made him feel, she would tell him that he was weak and should grow a backbone. Joe suggested that they could get some help, as the physical demands were putting a strain on him. Valerie would then cry and tell Joe that he didn’t love her. She also threatened to kill herself if he got outside help. Valerie started to push away other family members and threatened Joe about telling anyone about the abuse or her drinking.
Joe was conflicted about calling the Men’s Advice Line at first, but he gradually began to feel more at ease. Above all, he was relieved that he wasn’t being judged or made to feel guilty. The Advisor gave him contact details for a local domestic abuse service that worked with men. Joe was happy that he wasn’t expected to make a decision on the call and had time to think about what he wanted to do. He eventually found a support service for Valerie and he moved out of the home. He was given support from his local service and from friends and family.
Rob called the Men’s Advice Line three times. The first time was the day after a serious assault where the police were called by a neighbour. Although Rob was bleeding and bruised and his partner had no signs of violence on him, the officers advised Rob and his abusive boyfriend to sort things out and stop fighting. This caused further insecurity in Rob. Rob’s boyfriend had left that morning telling him that there was going to be trouble when he came back from work in the evening. He was so jealous that he would check Rob’s phone and not allow him to work or to talk to anyone or go out, unless he was with him. He would not give Rob access to any money. If he felt that Rob was trying to talk to his friends or relatives or get money through them, he would beat him up and blame him for it. This caused Rob to become isolated and with very low self-esteem.
The constant emotional and physical abuse and the control that his partner had over him had impacted in Rob’s mental health. When they met, his boyfriend was extremely caring and generous, but things quickly deteriorated. They had been together for only 2 years. During that time Rob had become completely dependent of him, almost unable to do anything without his permission apart from being at home reading or watching TV. Rob was unable to see a way out of his situation and feeling that he was to blame for the abuse he was suffering, like he somehow deserved it. Rob had spoken about his concerns to a friend who recommended the Men’s Advice Line.
Through talking to one of the Men’s Advice Line Advisors, Rob realised that he could access some money, gather his belongings, contact a friend who would put him up, and leave his boyfriend before he returned that evening.
Rob called the Men’s Advice Line again after leaving the relationship. He was struggling emotionally and financially but was determined to not go back. Although Rob was highly scared of a possible retaliation, he still refused to report matters to the police. In this call, he was reassured that his fears and insecurity were normal, that he was in the process of recovering from the abuse, and that there was support for him to solve the practical difficulties, until he could stand on his own feet again.
Rob called again a few weeks later. He was feeling stronger and more confident, but he was still struggling with feelings of guilt about what happened to him. Nevertheless, he was more settled in an independent life after having found a regular income. On this last call Rob was able to explore how the feelings of guilt were caused by the abuse. The Advisor explained to him that the perpetrator will typically avoid taking any responsibility for the harm inflicted on the victim, who will be blamed for their own suffering. Rob started making the connection between his own situation and what the Advisor explained to him. He was glad that, for the first time after many years, he started feeling that he wasn’t to blame.
Jason called the Men’s Advice Line when he fled abuse with his young son, two years ago. He has ADHD and had suffered years of emotional, financial, and physical abuse from his partner and son’s mother. She was using drugs and was pressuring Jason for money to pay for them. Dealers would often come round asking for money she owed, which he gave to them. He lived with constant threats from his partner and from her associates.
Jason was placed in housing that was too close to his ex-partner; she found him, and the abuse started again. Jason called the Men’s Advice Line again for support. He was distressed and anxious and his thoughts were racing. He had had to communicate with many services and institutions over the previous two years. He had found this overwhelming at times but kept going for the sake of his son. Jason was grateful that the helpline Advisor took the time to listen to his complex situation and understood that his ADHD made communication difficult. Jason appreciated that he was heard by someone who understood this as well as the domestic abuse.