Special Feature
Domestic abuse help is out there

By Connie Osborne Thursday 08 November 2012 Updated: 09/11 03:43

ON NOVEMBER 25, 16 days of action against domestic abuse will sweep through the county, raising awareness of violence towards both men and women.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the White Ribbon Campaign will run through to International Human Rights Day on December 10.

Surprising statistics from Stonham, a care and support provider for people who have suffered abusive relationships, show one in three victims of domestic abuse are men.

One victim - Martin (not his real name), who is in his 50s and lives near Alvechurch, has told us at The Standard what he went through in an abusive relationship.

He had been with his girlfriend for four years before they decided to move in together. Up until then the couple had been happy, with only minor hiccups when his girlfriend showed signs of being paranoid and checking his phone.

But it was not until she started self-harming and having unpredictable mood swings when Martin realised something was seriously wrong in their relationship.

“There wasn’t a particular trigger but she wouldn’t sleep, she’d clean the kitchen floor and she’d spend money on Internet shopping buying presents for others.

“And then, when she lost her temper, she would start hitting me and I just used to curl up.”

But, despite the fact Martin was covered in bruises and scratches, he never went to the doctors as he did not want anyone to see the marks, believing the situation would get better.

“In the beginning, she would be so tearful and apologetic. I always felt sorry for her or believed she would get help, but most of all I really loved her.”

But the violence got worse to the point where she threatened him with a knife. The couple split up for a short time but decided to get back together, having a baby in 2010.

“She would say as soon as we lived on our own or got married or had a baby she would stop. But she didn’t.”

The relationship finally ended when she tried to attack Martin while he was holding the baby. And despite calling the police on several occasions, talking to hospital staff and her family, he claimed nothing was ever done.

“They told me she had to admit she needed help but she wouldn’t. She’d say to the police I’d tried to attack her. Because I’m a man and I’m a bit older than her, and a foot taller, people thought I must be the abuser.

“I never thought domestic abuse was something women could to do men.

“My advice to anyone who goes through this is to get evidence. If I went to the doctors and showed them my marks it would make everything easier now. People would have believed me. Abuse is not something that men just do to women. It is people to people. And there is support out there.”

He added he had his children, and Stonham’s service in Worcestershire, to thank for keeping him going.

“I felt like it was me against the world for so long, but when I found Stonham and started attending their group meetings, it really helped.

“Hearing what other people were going through, that I wasn’t alone in this and the one-on-one support has been incredible.”

Anyone who believes they are experiencing domestic abuse or sexual violence, or knows someone who might be, should call the Worcestershire domestic abuse helpline 0800 980 3331, for free and confidential advice 24-hours-a-day.

Or to speak to someone at Stonham, call 0845 1550395.

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