Raising awareness of domestic abuse: A male survivor’s story
Main article content
Andrew* and his wife had always had a volatile relationship.
Having met when they were young, the pair were friends before becoming a couple.
But things were difficult from the beginning as Andrew’s partner was short tempered and would regularly snap, often at the simplest of things.
She frequently took her anger out on Andrew, particularly if she couldn’t get her own way or if money was running low, shouting at him and abusing him mentally.
As the sole breadwinner, Andrew brought his wages home for his wife and stepchildren. But he wasn’t allowed access to the money that he had earned. His wife would see how much money there was in the account and then decide how it would be spent. All Andrew did was eat, sleep and work and the more he earned, the more she demanded.
For Andrew, this behaviour was just the norm. He suffered the mental and verbal abuse for many years and arguments between him and his wife were a common occurrence, particularly when they had both had a drink.
And then one day, the violence started.
If he ever stood up for himself, she would throw a punch or an object at him. Andrew began fearing the consequences of upsetting her so would avoid raising any subjects that he knew would make her angry.
But Andrew still didn’t realise he was suffering domestic abuse.
Looking back now, he said: “I thought it was normal and that every man put up with this behaviour. I thought I didn’t have anyone to talk to as we had the same circle of friends.
“She was a very jealous person and I couldn’t even talk to our female friends in the pub without her flying off the handle and creating an argument.
“I thought getting married would fix things. That was never going to be the case but back then I couldn’t see a way out.
“I stayed because of my stepchildren which I now know was not the right thing to do as they witnessed things they shouldn’t have.”
Andrew tried to leave his wife a few times but always ended up going back, mainly for the children but also because he was frightened of the consequences.
The relationship made him feel like he was at school, being bullied. Despite his best efforts, every option he thought of to resolve the issues would have simply made it worse.
But then one day things came to a head. When his wife began throwing his possessions out of the window, Andrew decided enough was enough and called his parents.
He said: “I am lucky as I have parents that I knew would support me but until then I hadn’t told them what was happening as I thought I would look weak.
“Talking to my Dad made all the difference.”
Though Andrew didn’t report the abuse to police at the time, he is now speaking out about what he suffered for the first time as part of our domestic abuse awareness campaign to encourage other people to come forward. He also wanted to highlight how men can also be victims of domestic abuse.
“My advice to anyone in a similar situation is to talk to someone, even if you don’t have a support network of friends/family, there are support services out there, they are there to help,” he said.
“The sooner you talk to someone and realise that you don’t deserve what you are going through, the better.”
And while it was a difficult decision to take that final step to leave the relationship, Andrew knows it was the right thing for him.
“Moving in with my parents was a step forward, not a step back,” he said.
“For the first time in my life I have savings, I am in a relationship where we both earn and we are able to go on holidays and enjoy our lives.”
Domestic abuse can affect both women and men and can occur in same sex relationships. It can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial.
It can be repeated, random or habitual, and is used to control a partner.
If you're a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who is, there are a number of ways you can report your concerns: