Nearly half of domestic violence and abuse victims are men? Really?!
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
Well, if the most recent Government statistics are true, the answer is yes. The police recorded 1.3 million domestic related incidents and crimes, 45% were male victims. This statistic always feels hard to believe as the common perception is that males are the perpetrators of domestic abuse and females are the victims.
The figures change substantially when you remove the police recorded domestic related incidents and instead just look at police recorded domestic related crimes. Incidents are classed as reports to the police that after initial investigation concluded there was no notifiable crime. Of nearly 750,000 recorded crimes males make up 25% of the victims.
This is a massive drop in the percentage of male victims. Why the drop? There is no hard evidence for the significant disconnect between the figures, my theory is that it is due to a combination of the following three factors:
1. Male victims are not taken seriously by the Police.
2. Female partners make a complaint during the same incident and their account is deemed more credible as a victim account, perhaps because that is true, but potentially because of a bias within the police that males are not the victims of domestic abuse incidents.
3. Males victims withdraw support for the investigation at an early stage.
In my experience the number of male victim cases that get past a police investigation and progress to a charge and court case is very small. Anecdotally, in my experience a disproportionate number of such cases that do progress to court have white male victims and BAME female suspects, which opens up a whole different can of worms in relation to racial bias within the justice system.
Male victims withdrawing complaints is not uncommon, there is still a social stigma to a male being a victim of domestic abuse, some people will scoff and say the man should ‘get a grip’ or ‘man up’, as if it’s a sign of weakness for a man to be a victim at the hands of a woman. Some males want to withdraw the complaint to save their relationship, especially if they fear losing contact with their children. The statistics show that most domestic abuse victims are married, employed and homeowners, again this may figure in the reasons when males withdraw complaints, the more people have to lose the less likely they are to disrupt the status quo, especially if it is believed that the incident is a one off and the relationship can continue.
Sometimes a desire to withdraw a case is ignored, as in the tragic case of Caroline Flack, the Love Island presenter. Ms Flack was arrested for assaulting her partner and charged by the police, the case progressed to court despite her partner asking for the case to be dropped, the CPS refused and no doubt the emotional stress of the situation contributed to her suicide. This is an example of where the CPS can decide that despite the victim’s wishes for the case to be dropped they proceed with a prosecution as it is deemed to be ‘in the public interest’. In the Flack case I expect they meant that they had other significant evidence upon which to prove their case, perhaps 999 tape recordings or bodycam footage of what was seen and said at the scene, but equally as Ms Flack was a high profile media personality it may have been decided that it was in the public interest that an example should be made to the wider public, and the case couldn’t be just brushed under the carpet.
Less contentious is the fact that the figure of nearly 750,000 reported domestic related crimes is 24% higher than last year. When the next figures come out and include the impact of the covid-19 lockdown and continued isolation measures we expect the numbers to jump again.
What is also clear is that despite the recorded crime and incident figures there are still too many incidents that do not even come to the attention of the police. The Government study estimates there were 2.4 million domestic abuse victims in the past year. They estimate in the last year that 3.8% of men (800,000) and 7.5% of women (1,600,000) have experienced domestic abuse, 5.7% of total population (2.4 million). That leaves over 1 million unreported domestic abuse incidents, a truly shocking figure that highlights the iceberg of domestic abuse suffering in England and Wales.
If you or anyone you know needs help with a domestic abuse or violence issue I am here to help, contact me.