Scotland

Scottish male domestic abuse figures rise

Man with his head in his hands
Image caption The charity claims there is a lack of services to help male victims of domestic abuse

The number of men abused by their partners has increased by 9.4% over the past year to record levels, according to a charity.

The statistics, collated by Abused Men in Scotland (Amis), were based on the number of incidents reported to Scotland's eight police forces.

The number of men recorded as abuse victims by Scottish police rose from 7,908 in 2008-09, to 8,649 in 2009-10.

The charity accused many public services of "looking the other way".

Amis co-founder Alison Waugh said a man was a victim of domestic abuse in about one in every six recorded incidents in Scotland - but the country lacked the specialised services needed to address the problem.

"Unfortunately there is still a culture of denial among many politicians and providers of services who do not want to acknowledge the evidence in front of their eyes that thousands of men every year in Scotland are victims of domestic abuse," she said.

"They are abused first by their partner or ex-partner and then again by the public narrative that does not want to know about the damage they and their children experience."

The Scottish government recently provided funding for the Men's Advice Line which went live in April this year.

The freephone number is staffed from Monday to Friday 1000-1300 and 1400-1700 and aims to increase the safety of men experiencing domestic violence - and the safety of their children - and reduce any risk.

The figures gathered by Amis through the Freedom of Information Act suggested there was an increase in the number of male abuse victims across six forces - Central, Fife, Grampian, Lothian & Borders, Strathclyde and Tayside.

Dumfries and Galloway and Northern recorded a fall in both male and female victims.

Only Tayside reported a rise in the number of female victims, with the statistics indicating a 6.1% reduction overall across Scotland in the number of female domestic abuse victims, from 45,612 to 42,821.

Fife Police reported the biggest percentage increase in the number of male victims recorded - up 23.1% to 580 from 471 the previous year.

'Immense pressure'

Amis co-founder Jackie Walls said: "The statistics don't lie. Some people will say it's because more men are coming forward to report. Others, that more women are being violent and abusive. Others, that public awareness of the reality out there is running ahead of the politicians.

"No-one really knows. Whatever lies behind the figures we know that many public services look the other way when it comes to men who suffer domestic abuse.

"We have had enough of that one-sided approach."

The charity was recently awarded funding from National Lottery Awards for All Scotland to establish a helpline and an office in Dunfermline.

Communities Minister Alex Neil said: "Men and women can both be victims of domestic abuse and we know that men feel under immense pressure to keep up the pretence that everything is okay.

"This government is taking a lead in breaking this taboo and doing all we can to get the message across to men that they are not alone and that there is someone standing ready to listen and help."

Mr Neil highlighted the confidential Men's Advice Line in Scotland, training for health professionals and funding for organisations such as Victim Support Scotland.

The Amis helpline can be contacted on 01383 624411 and is currently staffed in the evening, along with weekend cover and the facility to leave a message to be contacted back.

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