Durham-led study examines extent of male domestic abuse during pandemic

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The study published by the Durham Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA), in collaboration with the charity Respect, documents a surge in male domestic abuse as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As domestic abuse directed towards men had seen a rise during the first lockdown, the study, entitled ‘Living a life by permission’, was commissioned by the domestic abuse charity Respect in collaboration with Durham University, and funded by the Home Office. A total of 344 male victims, who called or e-mailed the helpline set up by Respect during a three-month period, were observed by Durham researchers in a bid to investigate this insufficiently researched problem.

Dr. Stephen Burrell, who works at the CRiVA and was one of the researchers involved in the project, notes that “domestic abuse is highly pervasive in our society”, yet the scope of domestic abuse of men in particular has only been made visible through the pandemic. This is especially the case as male victims of abuse are statistically less likely to seek help or talk about their problems.

The main findings of the study relate to the extent of the issue, yet also shed light on the nature of abuse directed towards men. This included financial threats, emotional abuse and concerns over housing.

The CRiVA, which is based in the Department of Sociology, is an interdisciplinary research centre, which concentrates on societal issues such as domestic abuse or sexual or gender-based violence in the UK.

In most instances, the abuse came from a spouse or ex-spouse, and in 90 % of overall cases, the abuser was female. The study furthermore highlights the prevalence of societal prejudices revolving around masculinity and mental health, including the difficulty in seeking help for victims.

When asked about the ramifications of this study, Dr. Burrell said: “Hopefully, studies like this can help contribute to an awareness that we, as a society, and people in power need to be doing more to tackle [domestic abuse], and that includes resources like support services […] and also investing in prevention.”

Image: Clem Onojeghuo

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