Who is affected?
Police Scotland attend around 60,000 partner abuse incidents each year. Of those one in 5 is recorded as having a male victim. In national surveys one in three people experiencing partner abuse, is male. It can be physical, psychological, emotional, financial and sexual, at all levels of severity. More than 90% of male abuse is perpetrated by a female partner. It can devastate men's lives, their children's lives and the lives of their extended families. Consequences include serious injury (sometimes fatal), physical and mental health problems, isolation from friends and family, substance misuse, despair and suicide. The costs to individuals, social cohesion and to public services is incalculable.
What are the barriers for male victims in getting help?
Stereotypical attitudes about what it is to be a man and what is expected of men, mean that few male victims speak about it. Stigma, embarrassment and humiliation prevent it. Additionally, they hear government announcements and media items clearly implying domestic abuse is only about what male violence against women. men who experience it fear not being believed or worse, being treated as the perpetrator. They can find very few services saying that they support men.
It is more than likely that this is happening right now to a man you know and care about, but unless you ask, and are prepared to listen, you may never find out. All of these barriers can mean men often do not seek help until the abuse has escalated to the point of desperation. Sometimes friends and relatives find out too late. AMIS is here to help.
"I was very scared about reaching out for help. I found AMIS to be non-judgmental, easy to talk to. I felt great relief to hear from someone that my concerns were real. I was offered practical support in particular guidance to other organisations that could help. moral support and legal guidance."
AMIS has a team of three part-time staff, supported by volunteers. For ten years, we have been running a helpline for abused men, with ongoing support for as long as it's needed. We also provide training for other services; educational input for young people on healthy relationships; and we do our best to inform consultations and fora related to partner abuse, as we try to bring about a future when public policy and provision is gender-inclusive and equitable.
We have been trying to match £14,000, pledged by The Robertson Trust to continue our one Support Officer post for the helpline. They have kindly given us the pledged £14,000 and through this and other donations, we have matched it. We still need to cover the bills associated with the helpline - phone bills, insurance, etc. and then we can be sure of having at least one paid person on the helpline through 2021.
AMIS gets no public funding for our services, even in a pandemic when our caseload increased by 25%. It's been a hard year for our clients, the 450 or so that we've been working with. COVID-19 restrictions and all the associated stresses have exacerbated partner abuse, with victims having few opportunities for respite. It is harder for us to help them during a pandemic. Refuge or any safe accommodation for male victims, hard to come by at the best of times, is well-nigh impossible to find now.
Writing funding applications to Trusts, Foundations, and Lotteries is time-consuming and time has been limited this year. We did spend many hours composing a few, but most were unsuccessful, such is the competition at the moment. We are now having a concerted effort, involving many late nights, but fear sufficient funding will not arrive soon enough to maintain our helpline post.
We have been fortunate to receive some donations from supporters, some of whom are men who have had help from AMIS in the past, or from families who have witnessed the abuse of a male relative. Others recognise that this is a much-needed but (sadly, at the moment) politically unpopular cause. Society and policymakers still find it hard to recognise men can be victims. We owe a debt of gratitude to all our grant-makers and donors who do.
Sadly, there is no adequate, appropriate alternative to AMIS for men in Scotland experiencing partner abuse.
If abuse is not addressed the effects on the individual - and the costs to society - can be severe. One contact told us, after nearly two decades of abuse:
'I only ever asked one psychiatrist what was wrong with me. Right away, he said: “Post-traumatic stress at the extreme end of the spectrum”.'
The cost of policing and psychiatric support is far greater than the cost of AMIS's services. It's always worth-while to know when we made a difference. Clients responding to a survey about AMIS, said:
“First call made all the difference then educating myself through the webpage, finally realising I wasn’t the first or only man to experience abuse from a female partner, that I wasn’t stupid, weak or any less of a dad.”
'Called them (AMIS) several times Initially about helping me contextualise the relationship - “was this normal” To what I needed to consider and plan To finally helping me finding a counsellor to I pick the aftermath They have saved my life'
Every little helps and all donations are very much appreciated!