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False accusations preventing men from reporting domestic abuse – study finds

Male victims of domestic violence are reluctant to report the abuse they suffer for fear of being accused of violence themselves, according to new research by a Teesside University academic.

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Dr Jessica McCarrick.

Dr Jessica McCarrick.


Dr Jessica McCarrick, a Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology and Chartered Psychologist, says that men are often arrested under false accusations and their disclosures of victimisation are initially dismissed.

She is calling for more to be done to support male victims of intimate partner violence - encouraging men to report abuse and feel assured they will be taken seriously.

Dr McCarrick has carried out interviews with male victims who say that, as well as the trauma of domestic abuse, their negative experiences are perpetuated within the criminal justice system by being treated like the guilty party or feeling dismissed by the police.

The number of women convicted of perpetrating domestic abuse has more than quadrupled in the past ten years from 806 in 2004/05, to 3,735 in 2013/14.

Statistics show that an average of one third of domestic abuse victims are male.

One man, who did not want to be named, said he was arrested on three separate occasions following false counter allegations from his wife.

He said: 'In the latest incident I made the initial complaint to police as my wife assaulted me. But when they arrived, they showed little concern and instead arrested me because my wife made a counter allegation. I certainly feel that more compassion and empathy needs to be shown towards male victims of domestic violence.'

Dr McCarrick, who works within Teesside University’s School of Social Sciences, Business & Law, says that this type of account is not at all uncommon.

'Within my research, the predominant experience is of men being arrested under false charges and their disclosures of being the victim are not taken seriously, despite having evidence.

'Men find it incredibly difficult to talk about their experiences of domestic violence because of the shame and emasculation they feel is associated with it. To find the courage to speak out, only to be accused of violence themselves, is incredibly disheartening and ultimately prevents countless men from reporting intimate partner violence.'

Dr McCarrick is calling for more understanding of the emotional experiences of men and encouraging a more balanced, gender-informed perspective of domestic violence.

'When there was a positive experience of a police member, one who offered advice about support services for example, this appeared to reduce the negative psychological impact of being arrested under false charges.'

Intimate partner violence should be viewed as a human issue rather than a gender issue, argues Dr McCarrick and there should be more services and support to enable men to seek the help and sanctuary they desperately require.

She added: 'Campaigners and researchers made waves in the 1970’s, which had a positive impact and improved service provision for women – it is time to do the same for men.

'Promoting awareness of the plight of male survivors may encourage men to report abuse and feel assured that they will be taken seriously.

'Intimate partner violence is an issue which affects men and women within both heterosexual and homosexual relationships and I would like to see increased funding to improve service provision and development in order to support all people affected by this issue.'

28 September 2015

In the News

It’s time male victims of domestic violence were taken seriously
Express North, Online, 30/09/2015, Inside Man, Online, 30/09/2015; Daily Read list, 01/10/2015
Dr Jessica McCarrick, of Teesside University, says that men are often arrested under false accusations and their disclosures of victimisation are initially dismissed.