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Men filing 300 reports of domestic violence a year

Men made around one in every four reports of domestic violence in recent years, official figures show.

Police have received more than a thousand complaints of men suffering domestic abuse since 2013, as more male victims decide to square up to the taboo surrounding the issue.

A breakdown of domestic violence reports received by the police show that men are filing around 300 complaints every year after being abused in their home.

Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela tabled the information in Parliament in reply to a question by Opposition MP Robert Cutajar last week.

A former social worker told the Times of Malta that prior to 2010 men would hardly ever be referred for support services following domestic abuse – a trend that had started to change as awareness grew in recent years.

“Coming forward as a male victim of abuse was seen as emasculating,” she said.

“I helped men who were abused at home, and they begged me to keep it secret. Of course, the service is fully confidential, but the fear of being labelled as a lesser man is too much for some so they decide not to come forward at all.”

The now retired social worker, who prefers to remain unnamed, said that prior to hanging up her listening hat last year, she had seen a number of male victims unafraid to seek help after being in an abusive relationship.

Last month this newspaper reported how the police had received some 1,272 domestic violence reports in 2016. Ten years ago, the figure stood at just 116.

However, as more are coming forward, a 2015 report by the National Audit Office said that male victims still tended to be seen as a “distant secondary priority” in domestic violence programmes. The NAO report also noted that while some of the stakeholder departments communicated with each other on operational matters, others lacked coordination.

This lack of synergy between different entities, such as the Commission on Domestic Violence, Appoġġ,­­­­­­ the Police Department, the Courts of Justice and the Health Department, was a “big worry” for the former social worker who said victims could get lost in the system.

Their “horror stories” of ineffective support systems would put others off coming forward, she said.

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