As the former New Order bassist Peter Hook launches his autobiography, Substance, readers are given an insight into his troubled marriage to much loved comedian superstar, Caroline Aherne, who died from cancer earlier this year.
Hook has provided revelations of an abusive and controlling relationship, and one which involved physical violence towards him.
It interests me to learn that his openness in sharing this information has been met with mixed reaction. It is difficult to know where the truth lies, but what is undoubtedly evident is that domestic violence perpetrated against men is still largely unrecognised and unreported.
However, latest statistics* show that for every three victims of domestic abuse, two will be female, one will be male. Alarmingly, these figures are the equivalent of 2.2 million male victims. One in six men suffers from domestic abuse in their lifetime.
Why is it that male domestic violence remains one of the greatest taboo subjects in modern day society?
Many dedicated charity initiatives, in these times of restricted budgets, continue to focus almost entirely upon female victims, and whilst of course this is imperative, I feel male victims are largely left unsupported.
As a family law practioner, I often see a reticence on the part of victims to reporting abuse to the police because there is a fear that they will not be taken seriously. It is also still perceived as an admission of failure to stand up for one’s self.
Whether Hook’s revelations of domestic violence are true or not, somebody of his stature will place a much needed spotlight on male domestic violence and hopefully provide men with reassurance and confidence in coming forward. As a society we need to open our eyes to the issues.
I often recall the attitudes represented some time ago when a video was filmed before unsuspecting members of the public involving abusive behaviour with the male/female roles then reversed. The female “victim” was treated with compassion and a need for protection while the male “victim” was treated with derision.
It’s equally important that men understand that they have a support network, and that the same legal mechanisms available for female victims of domestic violence, also apply to them. When either a man or a woman is seeking the protection of the court by way of a Non Molestation or an Occupation Order, Legal Aid continues to be available for those applications.