An increasing number of male victims of domestic abuse from LGBT, migrant, and minority backgrounds have reported to support services since the beginning of the year.
This is according to Men’s Aid, which said it has seen an increase in contacts from the LGBT community over the past three months, while there has been a simultaneous rise in the number of men from migrant or minority backgrounds reaching out for help since the beginning of the year.
The organisation said that, in 2020, they received roughly 5,500 contacts to the service. However, Kathrina Bentley, CEO of Men’s Aid, said this figure is rising, with the group on course to support about 8,000 contacts this year.
“In quarter one of this year, we supported 25 different nationalities; this would include people who are South American, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern," said Ms Bentley. "Their barriers are a bit different because English might not be their first language.”
Significant cultural differences, isolation, and lack of refuges or shelters can make the process of coming forward even more difficult for these men, but Ms Bentley said they are coming forward.
“We have one man at the moment sleeping in his car. He contacts us every couple of days. He has left his wife. She threatened to kill him, so it is not safe for him to go back to his house. Because there are no shelters, he has nowhere to go. He is one of many South Americans in this position,” said Ms Bentley.
“He hasn't told his friends who are living here. He hasn't confided in his own community. It's just easier for him to continue sleeping in a van."
Ms Bentley explained some of the obstacles these men face when they try to speak out.
"We hear that they haven't told their friends because of shame, embarrassment, and fear.
"Fear of not being believed; they think because he's 6ft 5, he's a big guy, he's a builder, no one will believe him. So they suffer in silence."
Ms Bentley says the increase in the number from the LGBT community seeking support may have resulted from word-of-mouth, or through the workplace, as more become aware of the service.
“In the last three months, we've seen an increase of members of the LGBT community coming forward.
"So men in relationships with men, whether they are a husband or partner, and an increase in disclosures of coercive control, physical assault, and, sadly, rape as well,” she said.
According to Ms Bentley, one former client's workplace was aware of the abuse, which led them to refer the victim to Men’s Aid.
“Sadly, he's been experiencing abuse for a number of years. Financial abuse, physical abuse, physical assault, and coercive control. But the help came through his workplace,”
Ms Bentley said that those from LGBT relationships suffer the same sorts of abuse as those in any other form of abusive relationship.
“For the abuser, it is all about power and control, regardless of gender. And so, what they're looking to do is dominate or control their partner. So, it's the same disclosures that we're hearing, it's just that their partner is the same gender,” she added.