Surge in older men seeking support for domestic abuse

Surge in older men seeking support for domestic abuse

Many of these men are “suffering in silence” for years. File photo

There has been a surge in men in their 60s and 70s seeking aid from domestic abuse support services over the course of the pandemic.

Kathrina Bentley, CEO of , said that, in 2020, her organisation received roughly 5,500 contacts to their service, with a spike in men reaching out occurring in May and June, at the start of the pandemic. 

However, Ms Bentley said this figure is rising, with the group on course to support roughly 8,000 contacts this year.

“Most months, 600 to 700 men a month are contacting us. About two-thirds of that would be disclosing various elements of abuse and coercive control, and under that would come emotional, psychological, financial abuse as well as physical and sexual violence,” said Ms Bentley.

She gave several examples of elderly men who have reached out for help in recent weeks.

One of these is a farmer in the Munster area, who contacted them only last week.

“His wife is coercively controlling him. He's in his mid-70s and his wife would control the finances,” Ms Bentley said.

According to Ms Bentley, the man’s love for his wife means he doesn’t see a way out of the situation.

“What he said to us on the phone was - ‘I love my wife. I couldn't leave her’,” she said, adding that he "sees no end to it".

Ms Bentley said they are seeing “the older Irish generational family", who are invested in the farm or in the land, making it more difficult to leave these situations. These environments can often affect entire families.

“Another gentleman, his son has moved home, and there's substance abuse,” she said. 

To the extent that this gentleman has actually moved out of the house and is living in a tent. And he's in his 60s.

The man, who is a grandfather, is putting the welfare of his son and grandson above his. Afraid to push his son towards further addiction he moved into the tent as there is “no refuge for men in Ireland". 

“He's living a life of hell,” Ms Bentley added.

Many of these men are “suffering in silence” for years, with Ms Bentley adding that there could be hundreds of thousands of cases out there.

Men’s Aid is often coming across cases where the men will not leave the abusive environment until the mortgage on the home is fully repaid.

“They say ‘I've left now because the mortgage payment has been paid because I want her and the children to have a roof over their heads'. So we hear a lot of men hanging in there through years of being subjected to abuse and waiting,” Ms Bentley said.

She added that many of these cases end in homelessness, addiction or suicide.

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