Domestic, partner or dating abuse, is typically a pattern of controlling behaviour, including physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse. Anyone can experience it regardless of sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnic origin, dis/ability or any other characteristic.
It's not easy to fund support for the victims who are male. Men are usually assumed to be the ones causing the problem, or if they are abused, that they must have done something to deserve it.
Police Scotland attended 59,541 domestic abuse incidents in 2017-18. Of the 49,150 where sex of abuser and abused were recorded, the victims were male in 18% (8,669). We often hear it said that most male victims of domestic abuse are abused by another male. This is not true. 91% of the cases where police recorded a male victim, they recorded a female perpetrator.
Whatever the figures, it's a significant issue, and the damaging effects on men (and any children) can be every bit as serious as for any other victim - humiliation, fear, isolation, control, severe life restrictions, stress, PTSD, mental health issues, substance abuse, serious injury, death - through suicide or violence.
Abused men (or anyone not identifying as female) can be among the most marginalised and isolated people in the community. If they are not recognised and supported, their children risk having their entire childhood blighted, with serious impact on their emotional well-being and ability to form healthy relationships.
AMIS was set up to fill a gap in Scottish support for male victims and has been running a free, confidential helpline for abused men since 2010. We also provide face-to-face support; training for other services that encounter abused men; work with young people on healthy relationships to help prevent partner/dating abuse; and we do our best to inform policy makers and encourage them to take a more gender inclusive approach to statutory domestic abuse provision.
AMIS will have supported 450 new clients in 2019 (up 30% from 2018). The amount of casework is also increasing rapidly. For some clients it takes time to deal with a range of issues -safety, legal, housing, child protection or contact, false allegations, mental health, etc. On average we are in contact with a client three times.
We provide listening, safety-planning, information, signposting and referrals. A lot of men are reluctant to talk about being abused, fearing (and encountering) disbelief or ridicule. It's crucial that the people responding to them are informed and understanding about the situations and barriers men typically face.
Currently AMIS has just under two full-time staff. Our total monthly costs are around £5,700 a month - for salaries, office space and all other overheads.
We need core funding and are seeking that from a number of sources, so that we can develop our services in a more sustainable way. We want access to services for male victims (and their children) to become equitable across Scotland.
The vast majority of men seeking help for partner abuse in Scotland, contact AMIS. It is the only organisation based in Scotland that offers helpline support, casework (more than just signposting), some face-to-face support and which does not place set restrictions on the length of calls. Information provided by AMIS is based on the Scottish legal system, very different from that in England and Wales. Clients come from every local authority in Scotland. A further 350 calls come from professionals and others seeking information.
AMIS is the only domestic/partner abuse support organisation in Scotland raising the voices of men who experience abuse, at stakeholder events and consultations.
AMIS trains organisations that encounter abused men. We work towards a point where men seeking help can be sure of a consistent, informed, quality response.
AMIS's callers report feeling less stressed, having been able to talk openly, often for the first time and listened to non-judgementally, receiving validation and assurance that they are not alone. They make their own decisions on information provided as confidence is raised. Some have told us our support saved their lives.
By supporting AMIS now, you will help us to continue to provide a vital service until we are successful in securing the core funds we need to reach out to even more abused men. £4,500 would make it possible for us to keep a volunteer-only service going for six months. However, added to other donations, that £4,500 could enable us to release match funding, and retain one full time helpline post for the whole year.
If AMIS disappears almost a decade of experience in working with male victims in Scotland will be lost. Any remaining support will be patchy or designed for female victims.
"You know, people like you make a difference. I'm evidence of that. I think about your words at night and I know I'm not going mad."
A recent caller after having built the confidence he needed to take steps to protect his children who were suffering, as their father was, from severe emotional abuse.