I’m sometimes asked why our website and information materials do not include as many images of men as they do of women. There is a simple answer to that: over the last 12 years that we have tracked the numbers of men and women who use our service, we have found that of the 152,000 total, only 10,700 are men, or about 7%.
We are absolutely gender-neutral as well as a-religious, ethnicity impartial and non-political. We really do not take into account colour of skin, country of origin or anything else that might set one victim apart from another: we just want to provide a service that alleviates their pain.
The fact that the overwhelming majority of people seeking our help are women is not something that we consciously promote. We do try to create a gender balance, but it remains true to say that far more women are victims of abuse than are men and it follows we will always be helping more women than men.
But why don’t more men use our services? Is it just because male victims are truly rare?
I am not sure I know the answer to those questions. While all generalisations can be highly dangerous, it is at least arguable that men and women think differently and react differently to certain situations. This may be nothing to do with gender as such but much more to do with cultural conditioning. Many women, for instance, may be more comfortable at expressing and sharing their feelings with third parties – or asking for professional help – than are some men.
Perhaps some men do not think they need our help: perhaps they prefer to try to sort things out themselves. In the medical sphere attitudes like that lead to higher rates of late diagnosis of serious conditions. Men may also be too ashamed to identify as a victim: the classic description of manliness does not include vulnerability.
Above and beyond arguable gender traits however, everyone is different, everybody is an individual: there may be a plethora of reasons why a man may not seek help and no single reason for male reticence. For NCDV, what matters is that we are here for everyone offering a choice for all those who no longer wish under the threat or reality of domestic violence. Without that, there really is no future.
Help me make domestic abuse socially unacceptable.
Mark Groves CEO