Christmas Campaign to help male domestic violence victims

CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN

Slater Heelis calls on action to take male victims more seriously

Law firm Slater Heelis LLP is working with domestic violence charity Mankind Initiative http://www.mankind.org.uk/ to raise awareness of male victims. According to government figures in the British Crime Survey, two out of every five victims of domestic violence are now male. The North West has some of the highest recorded incidences of domestic violence against men, with them being twice as likely to be victims than men in the South West.

Slater Heelis LLP is seeing an increasing number of male victims coming forward to pursue legal action who often report that the police did not take them seriously, telling them to ‘go away’ or ‘grow up’. The firm’s Family Law team who operate from Manchester and Sale, Cheshire is launching a seasonal awareness campaign with the support of Mankind Initiative to ensure that male victims know what to do when they report the crime and just what their legal rights are. Slater Heelis LLP will run a domestic violence hotline which will be open over Christmas and New Year for anyone needing legal support on 0844 967 6830 and has also posted essential information to help victims with practical help on their website.

Mark Heptinstall, Partner and Joint Head of the Family team at Slater Heelis LLP said: “We see clients each year who tell us that the emotions and tensions around the Christmas period will trigger outbursts from their partner.  Just as we see a seasonal spike in divorce after Christmas, so there is a rise in incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police over the festive period, an increasing number of which are from men. Tensions are high with the cost of paying for Christmas, separated families coming together, people spending more time together generally, often cooped up indoors, and more alcohol may be being consumed than usual,  all of which can intensify a situation and increase the likelihood of abuse.

“We recognise that the police are doing a difficult job but we see unfortunate examples where they simply don’t treat domestic violence against men as serious. Men are often treated as the aggressor in the situation, and often even placed under arrest, for a crime that has been committed against them rather than by them. Awareness of male victims is increasing with recent cases like Melanie Sykes being cautioned over an assault on her husband and soap storylines but there is still a huge difference between the way male and female victims of domestic violence are treated and that needs to change.”

Mark Brooks, Chairman of Mankind, said: “We see a big increase in calls to our helpline over the holiday period and particularly after Christmas when men are suffering at home and may not be able to get help because they are with their partner. There are a number of signs that friends and family can look out for that may indicate abuse such as changes in their character, nervousness when around their partner and making excuses for any bruises or scratches.

“There is also a lot that men can do during the Christmas period to make sure they are able to escape the situation as soon as possible including keeping a diary of incidents, telling a friend, keeping a photographic record of injuries and reporting incidents to the police and GP.  It’s also very important to take advice from a reliable solicitor who will be able to advise on the legal evidence you may need, how best to care for children in an abusive situation and information on taking actions such as injunctions.”

In 2012 Greater Manchester Police received 1,526 reports of domestic abuse incidents over the festive period, a rise of 27 %**, compared to the average number of calls police receive over a seven day period throughout the year. Boxing Day and the day after saw that figure rise to 34 per cent, with more than 240 reports of domestic abuse each day. According to the Office for National Statistics: Crime Survey (Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12,  7% of women and 5% of men were estimated to have experienced a form of domestic abuse in 2011/12, equivalent to an estimated 1.2 million female and 800,000 male victims.

The ManKind Initiative is a national charity that provides help and support for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence. They can be contacted on 01823 334244 or at http://www.mankind.org.

** Greater Manchester Police http://www.gmp.police.uk/content/WebsitePagesMobile/38F6D771442B0F5180257C2E0031AB6E?OpenDocument

HELPFUL HINTS & TIPS

I’m a man suffering domestic violence – WHAT CAN I DO?

Men have exactly the same rights as women to be safe in their own homes.

All statutory services (such as the police, Crown Prosecution Service, housing departments and social services) have a duty to provide services to all, whatever their gender.

Men are protected by exactly the same laws as women – anyone who has assaulted another person, regardless of the gender of either, can be prosecuted or an injunction obtained at Court to protect you.

If you are a man experiencing domestic violence and you need emergency help you can call the police on 999.

If you are not in immediate danger consider the following;

    • Recognise and acknowledge that this is happening to you
    • Accept you are not to blame
    • When an incident seems imminent try to leave the situation as your personal safety is most important
    • Do not retaliate physically or verbally this will escalate the situation it may also mean you are more likely to be arrested should the police become involved
    • Keep a diary of all incidents, noting down the time and date. Also note any witnesses should there be any
    • Keep photographic evidence of your personal injuries
    • Report all injuries to your GP or to the local hospital minor injury unit/A&E department
    • If you do not call 999 you can ring the police station to make an appointment with a trained domestic violence officer and insist in seeing the officer in person and to make a statement.
      You can take a friend with you if you feel it necessary
    • If you contact the police for any reason you should ensure you obtain a crime reference number for the contact
    • Take advice regarding injunctions to protect your safety and wellbeing from a reliable solicitor without delay. The Court has the power to protect you and to determine who can remain in the family home if you are living together and who should leave. You may be entitled to legal aid depending upon your circumstances.