More than 3,600 contacts were made to a service for male victims of domestic violence last year.
The figures are contained in the first ever annual report from Amen, a support service for men who experience abuse in their relationships.
According to the report, 3,644 contacts were made to Amen services in 2009, including through its helpline, and group meetings.
Twenty-six per cent of callers to the helpline had experienced physical abuse, with other abuse reported including psychological, verbal and in one per cent of cases, sexual.
Niamh McGrath, Manager at Amen’s centre in Navan in County Meath, said many of the men who had come forward for assistance had been physically and emotionally injured.
“We’ve had men with stabbings, puncture marks on the hands, or the back of the neck, marks from where they’ve been hit with sticks. There’s also this isolation within the home where the wife or the partner and the children lead a separate life to him. They don’t talk to him, or she may have told the children that they can’t talk to Daddy."
According to a 2005 National Crime Council study on domestic abuse, six per cent of men in Ireland had experienced severely abusive behaviour of a physical, sexual or emotional nature from a partner at some time in their lives, compared with 15 per cent of women.
A 2002 report to the Department of Health on Men and Domestic Violence, acknowledged that the outcomes of domestic violence in terms of physical and psychological injuries tended to be considerably more negative for women victims than for men victims, and that sexual violence was overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women.
However it also pointed out that male victims of domestic violence may face much greater barriers in accessing services, and that there is a much greater range of services for female victims than for male victims.
Amen claims to be the only service of its kind in the country.
Niamh McGrath said more than 1,000 of the calls to its helpline last year were unanswered, as the line is not operational 24 hours due to funding restrictions.
She said many men stay in abusive relationships, rather than face being separated from their children.
“They’re afraid they’re going to lose their children, they’re afraid they’re going to be denied access to their children. They’re afraid that accusations and allegations are going to be made against them."
Amen’s report found that men who reported domestic violence to community and state agencies often had to prove they were the victims. They were disbelieved, or faced ridicule and criticism for not protecting themselves, and not conforming to masculine stereotypes.
Amen provides a confidential helpline and support service for male victims of domestic abuse and their children - Tel 046 902 3718, or www.amen.ie
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