Domestic Violence Against Men – More common than we think?

We often associate domestic violence in a marriage/cohabitee situation with an aggressive man assaulting a defenceless woman.

When I was at University in the 80s I wrote my dissertation on ‘Police Intervention in Domestic Violence Situations’ and as part of my research I interviewed a senior Metropolitan Police Officer, visited the first Women’s Refuge in Chiswick and read numerous books and articles.

At that time I don’t recall ever reading about (or speaking to anyone who referred to) the fact that it is not only women that are the victims of domestic violence but men can be too. Around 10% of domestic violence now reported to the police will be by male victim, but in reality the figure is far higher as many men suffer in silence.

In March 2015 Ken Gregory a victim of domestic violence was reported in the national press as saying “As a man who is a bit older and who isn’t exactly small, there is a perception that you can’t be a victim of domestic violence. I was worried that people would assume that it was my fault and she was the victim. There is still a perception that, as a strong man against a weaker female you must have been the protagonist.”

The couple, he 65 and she 60, had been married for 5 years and there had been previous incidents of violence against Ken. On the day of the final incident, Ken was due to take flowers to the grave of his former deceased wife but instead the couple rowed over finances. Maureen Gilbertson, his wife at the time, left the room claiming that she was going to make tea but instead returned with a jug of freshly boiled water and poured it over him. The result was Ken suffering horrendous burns to 14% of his body. Maureen was convicted of GBH and jailed for 5 years.

Ken’s plea to other men following his wife’s conviction was simple; “If other men find themselves in this position I would say don’t be embarrassed or ashamed – my case goes to show this can happen to anybody.”

Issues of domestic violence are devastating but swift action can be taken to protect the victim and advise them on how to remove themselves from a violent domestic situation.

Karen FlemingThis article was written by Karen Fleming, Consultant Solicitor at Bennett Griffin and first appeared in Sussex Local magazine in January 2017.

 Karen is a family law solicitor with over 25 years’ experience practicing in all areas of family law including domestic violence.

If you need help on this or any other area of family law such as divorce, separation, pre-nuptual agreements, living together arrangements, child or financial issues please contact Karen and the family team on 01903 229935.

The information contained in this article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice. Professional advice should always be taken on the application of the law in any particular situation.