By Zoë Keown
SCOTTISH men suffer as much physical and psychological abuse from their partners as women, shocking new statistics reveal.
The 2008/2009 figures, which were part of the government’s Scottish crime and justice survey, have shown that in cases of abusive behaviour, 48 per cent of offenders were men and 45 per cent were women.
In comparison to 34,000 women, 39,000 Scottish men have experienced abuse from their partner.
Flawing any preconceived notion that abuse is mainly a woman’s concern, the statistics have encouraged the government to take a closer look at the country’s policy for domestic violence.
With only eight per cent of abuse cases reported to the police by men, and 35 per cent reported by women, the subject’s taboo nature is an evident one.
Campaigners say that the fear of not being believed by the authorities or losing access to their children contribute to mens’ reluctance to tell their tale.
Alison Waugh, a founding member of Men in Scotland, a charity supporting male victims of domestic abuse, said that men in abusive relationships had been ignored for far too long.
Calling on men to come forward, Waugh said: “The figures show that there is not as big a difference between the level of abuse men and women suffer as one would expect.
“Yet it has largely been seen as a problem that happens to women, and abuse of men has become a taboo subject.
“Men can be seriously affected by it for decades and it can ruin their lives.”
Campaigners are now calling for a greater focus on abused men, with the back up of public information campaigns and support services.
Already, steps are being taken to bring the matter out into the open.
A helpline for abused men has recently been launched by Alex Neil, communities’ minister, and he is not ruling out the possibility for a television advertising campaign on the issue.
Advocating the subject’s importance, Neil said: “There is no doubt in my mind that domestic abuse against men is not only a significant issue in Scotland, but also a growing problem.
“It would be a dereliction of duty for us not to recognise that and to respond accordingly.
“Working with all other parties in the parliament, the government intends to ensure that we tackle the problem head-on.”
With reported cases of domestic abuse on the rise in Scotland from 49,655 in 2007-08 to 53,881 in 2008-09 the call for better support measures could not come at a more crucial time.