Smashing the stigma of domestic abuse is the motivation behind a new support group launching in Middlesbrough.
Many men bottle up their experiences of abuse, feeling unable to speak out due to the unfounded fear of being mocked or disbelieved.
But a monthly drop-in session in the town, which begins this week, aims to give men a safe space to open up.
Domestic violence survivors are predominantly women, but anyone can fall victim to physical or emotional abuse.
Statistics from the charity Mankind show that one in seven men will be a victim in their lifetimes - compared to one in four women - and that 26% of domestic abuse crimes recorded by police were committed against men.
However, only 4.4% of survivors being supported by services are male.
The new group, which will meet on the first Wednesday of every month at the Newport Hub, has been set up by Kevin Forsey, a Domestic Abuse Survivor Liaison Worker with Middlesbrough Council.
He said: “Many men who suffer domestic abuse never come forward and talk about it, which can lead to, amongst other things, depression and poor mental health.
“There are services and increasing awareness around men’s mental health, but very little dealing directly with domestic abuse – we know there’s an issue, but because very few survivors open up it could be an even bigger problem in Middlesbrough than we think.
“There will be no judgement. It is a safe space for people to come and talk if they want to, and be around other men in a similar position.”
Kevin has spoken with similar support groups which have been set up in other parts of the UK, and believes that the true number of male domestic abuse survivors in our town could be vastly under-reported.
Those attending will also be signposted to other agencies for support, while an independent domestic violence lead from My Sister’s Place will also attend.
Lesley Storey, CEO at My Sister’s Place, said: “Our organisation has dedicated support workers for male victims, and we offer advice, safety planning and emotional support.
“We know men are impacted by abuse and that could be as they experienced witnessing abuse in their home as a child, or it could be they have experienced abuse from either a male or female partner.
“We are here to help and we will be ensuring we support this important new service in Middlesbrough.”
The new men’s support drop-in for domestic abuse survivors will be held on Wednesday, August 3, from 12-2pm at the Newport Hub on St Paul’s Road.