Lockdown sees increased demand for male domestic abuse support

Man looking out window

New research by our Department of Sociology shows that calls for help from male domestic abuse victims have rocketed during lockdown and, behind closed doors, many are facing challenges that will continue long after social isolation ends.

Undertaken in partnership with the charity Respect, the study shows that pleas for help jumped by up to 60 per cent during the first UK-wide lockdown.

Living a life by permission

The study, entitled ‘Living a life by permission’, details the experiences of 344 male victims and is believed to be one of the largest in-depth studies of male domestic abuse victims in the world.

As a domestic abuse organisation, Respect runs the Men’s Advice Line which saw a steep increase in demand after an initial dip when the lockdown was announced in March last year.

Demand reached record highs from April to June 2020. This period saw an average of 3,527 calls and emails each month – the highest since the service began in 2007.

Homeless in a pandemic

Concerns around housing were a major reason for victims reaching out, sometimes as one of a range of issues including, but not limited to, physical, mental or sexual abuse.

Men talked about sleeping in cars, hotels, hostels, ‘sofa surfing’, at friends’ houses and in a few cases on the street as a result of the domestic abuse they had experienced.

Gendered norms

During many of the calls and emails to the advice line, callers mentioned how difficult they found it to be a man talking about domestic abuse.

Research shows that influential ideas about masculinity in society, such as the pressure to be invulnerable, stoical, unemotional, and to never show weakness, can place a substantial barrier on male victims coming forward.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised, Durham University offers a dedicated Counselling Service.

The Men’s Advice Line is for male victims of domestic abuse. They offer confidential advice, non-judgmental support, practical information and help.

/Durham University Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.