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Domestic Violence and Male Victims

domestic abuse


Domestic Violence and Male Victims

Male victims of domestic abuse are becoming more prevalent in Ireland.  Unfortunately, the statistics are probably inaccurate due to the fact that many men find it embarrassing to admit being abused by women.  They fear the authorities won’t believe them or take them seriously.  They also fear that if they report their partners for domestic abuse they might prevent them from seeing their children.  Some men try and prevent their wife/girlfriend from hitting their children so they intervene and get beaten themselves. There is a lot of shame associated with a man being abused by a woman.  Men are often seen as the dominant partner and are viewed as effeminate by society if they are not seen to live up to this expectation.  They are expected to be able to protect themselves and are seen as wimps if they don’t.  This can cause them to feel isolated and depressed, as they feel they can’t talk about the abuse to anyone.

Society make excuses for women been aggressive, and condones their behaviour saying it is as a result of hormonal imbalances, depression or personality disorders. In light of this they are not usually expected to take responsibility for their actions. However, men are not excused for their aggressive behaviour, and are expected to take full responsibility for their actions. Also if a man is violent towards a woman in a relationship they are viewed as an unfit parent and the woman receives sole custody of the children.  But if a woman is abusive towards her husband people tend to think he has done something to provoke this and she isn’t likely to be viewed as an unfit mother.  Men often have no choice but to stay in an abusive relationship because they don’t want to lose access to their children.

“Domestic violence against men in Ireland is common, and the economic downturn has made it worse,” says Dr Michael O’Shea, a psychotherapist who has counselled male victims of domestic violence for several years. “Some of the stories I’ve heard are horrific. You get different levels of abuse: emotional, mental and physical abuse is very common. As a therapist and as a man, I’ve been shocked by the level of trauma which men can incur in relationships.”

“There is not one bed for men suffering from domestic violence,” said Niamh Farrell of AMEN, the only domestic violence resource in Ireland for men. “You can encourage them to look for help but in terms of housing, we can’t do anything to help them with that because there is no refuge.”

The recession has increased the numbers of men contacting Amen.  Around 3600 men contacted Amen in 2009 and this increased to 5,200 in 2012. This might be due to men becoming unemployed and the women being the primary bread winners in the family.  The woman can abuse her power in this way and use it to dominate her male partner.

John is a 44 year old taxi driver who has recently left his wife after contacting Amen. He says “Since I became unemployed my wife had become increasingly intolerant of me in everything I did or said.  She got physically violent too. 

She kicked me, bit me, hit me and would shout obscenities at me.  Thanks to the support from Amen I had the confidence to leave her and to start my life over again.’

Jimmy a 41 year old architect has been in an abusive relationship for years now.  He says: ‘I have been married for five years and the first year of our marriage was relatively drama free. However after the birth of my first son my wife started to change.  She became increasingly aggressive, she was constantly angry.  This was beyond being hormonal, she was out of control and she still is. She hits me, stabs my hand with a scissors, and throws crockery at me.’ ‘I can do nothing to appease her.  Nothing I say or do seems to pacify her.  I live on eggshells never knowing when the next explosion will occur. My self esteem has quickly eroded and I am starting to believe the nasty things she says to me.  Despite the abuse I am experiencing, and have experienced, I can’t leave her because I don’t want to leave my children.  I am afraid she will take her anger out on them if I leave.’

Amen Support Services Ltd has launched their first outreach clinic. This will be a supportive resource for men, who are unable to attend the office in Navan, Meath. The Navan office is the only service in the country which helps male victims of domestic abuse.  This service provides a confidential helpline, advice and a support service for male victims of domestic abuse.  The men speak about the abuse they have been subjected to at the hands of their female partners.

In this writer’s opinion there is not enough been done to improve the lives of men who are experiencing domestic abuse by women.  I think it is disgraceful to think that in this day and age we don’t have shelters in Ireland to ensure the safety of male abuse victims.  These women are getting away with this awful abuse, and some of them are also manipulating their husbands into keeping quiet about it, with threats of not been allowed to see their children if they do tell.  What will it take for the government to take this matter seriously? Does another man have to die from suicide in order for the government to build shelters around the country?

Amen’s services include:

The Amen helpline is: (046 9023 718)

  • Information on legal matters available to men who are being abused in their homes.
  • Practical information to abused men on what to do and where to go.
  • Regular support group meetings.

The outreach service will be held every Tuesday in Dolphin House, Family Law District Court Office, Dublin 2 from 13.30 to 16.00  During this time, an Amen Support Worker will be available to speak with clients and provide them with information relating to their situation.

For Further Information Please Contact:


Niamh Farrell, Manager,
Amen Support Services Ltd,
St. Anne’s Resource Centre,
Railway Street,
Navan, Co. Meath


Tel: 046-9076864
Mobile: 086-0299994


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