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'I've been punched, kicked, scratched - if I stay I'll be killed': Stories of Ireland's abused men

More than 2,000 men each year contact a service for male victims of domestic abuse in Ireland.

EACH YEAR, OVER 2,000 vulnerable men contact the Amen domestic abuse service to ask for help or look for someone who will listen to what they are going through.

Most of the men who get in touch are in the 50-60 years age bracket and 90% of the callers are Irish males.

2005 research carried out for the National Crime Council found 6% of men suffer severe domestic abuse with 13% of men suffering physical abuse or minor physical incidents. Just one in 20 male victims report it to gardaí.

The study suggested in the region of 88,000 men in Ireland have been severely abused by a partner at some point in their lives.

Over the last couple of years, more men have been contacting Amen’s services. Here are the stories of just a few:

‘She was in my bedroom with a hatchet’ 

Ciaran left his wife after two decades together. She became abusive when she drank, which she did a lot.

The final straw was when she beat me up, kicking me in the balls which meant having to go to the doctor. The treatment lasted six months.

He moved into his own house next door so he could still see his three children. In one incident, he says his wife came home drunk and started calling him demanding to talk. He refused to and contacted his daughter, their eldest and fully grown, to make sure she and the others were alright.

 While on the phone I heard a big bang and the sound of glass breaking. At this stage I was in my bed and told my daughter what was just after happening. She and my boys rushed over to my house disarming my wife of a hatchet – she was in my bedroom. She had broken the glass in the back door with it.

“The following day I boarded up my back door and went to work. When I got home my door was fixed and she came over to say sorry. And let that be the end of it,” he continues.

“Now when I try to bring the matter up, she says I drove her to do what she did and it was all my fault.”

“If I stay I’ll be seriously hurt or killed”

Pat describes himself as a 50-year-old professional male and a battered husband.

His children are grown up and out of the family home now so he says his fears are not around losing them or leaving them with an abusive mother.

I have slowly but surely modified my life to such an extent that I have very little life left. I do this so as not to provoke a violent outburst from my wife. I have been punched, kicked, scratched, hit with objects. I’ve had things thrown at me. I’ve had my hair pulled.

He says the abuse lessened over the years but now the children are grown, it has increased again in frequency and intensity.

 I am scared. We have a mortgage and I can’t afford to leave and keep the mortgage repayments. Are there any local support services that I can tap into? I believe that if I remain in my marriage, I will be seriously hurt or killed. That’s no exaggeration. As I attempt to take back control of some aspects of my life she is becoming more violent.

“It seems everywhere I go I get nowhere”

Tom left his family home due to verbal, mental and physical violence. For a time he lived in his car. A family friend took him in for a short period, but he has been told he cannot be housed because he is a homeowner.

I haven’t seen my two younger children since I left in August as my wife says it would only confuse them and that was what their social worker said also. I regularly see my eldest son who is fourteen. He hates living at the house. My wife is a bully.

In his letter to Amen, he says: “It seems everywhere I go I get nowhere”.

“I feel totally alone”

One man  says he is about to leave behind his 13 years of marriage. He can no longer stand the abuse:

The rows erupt over the most minor of things, and my wife has become really aggressive — shouting, hitting and throwing things at me. The abuse has escalated, and she has threatened me with a knife on several occasions. I do not feel safe at home and sleep alone with my bedroom door locked. The reasons for these outbursts can be as simple as me arriving home a quarter of an hour late, or one of the children spilling something on the floor.

My wife has insulted my family to such an extent that they do not want anything to do with us and have told me to just leave the marriage.

I feel totally alone.

A garda who has endured abuse for 15 years

In one letter, a member of An Garda Síochána describes some of the horrific injuries his wife inflicted on him, including broken ribs, a fractured finger and wounds inflicted by pliers, screwdrivers and snips in one particularly vicious attack.

He went to his doctor, a social worker and to the district court to try to get help. He says his wife’s response to his getting a protection order was to apply for one herself and it was granted. Though he has been advised to leave for good, he says his “life would not be worth living” without his three young children and he knows he would be denied access to them.

On occasions I have, on my wife’s insistence, left the family home. Then she accused me of desertion. I was denied access to my sons. Then again on her behest I have returned to my home. When I return, she says I am a wonderful husband, a good father and she can’t live without me until she feels safe to return to her violent behaviour. I have put up with this abuse for years in order to be with my children.

Men experiencing domestic abuse can contact AMEN on its helpline number, 046 9023718 or through its website.

Read: Abused husband was ‘knocked out’ and had knife ‘lunged’ at him>

Read: Increases in domestic violence against men>

Read: Why are there no refuges for male victims of domestic violence?>

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