Supporting male survivors of domestic abuse if one of the services PARAGON offers. We also run Dragonfly workshops that can help signpost men to domestic abuse services.
It’s estimated that the police in the UK receive a complaint about domestic abuse every 30 seconds. In the year ending March 2020, an estimated 2.3 million adults experienced domestic abuse in the UK. That’s 1.6 million women and 757,000 men.
All of these statements illustrate the shocking reality of domestic abuse in our society. We know that research statistics only represent people that come forward. Therefore, we believe the number of individuals affected by domestic abuse to be significantly higher.
The Dragonfly Project started in 2017 after it was awarded funding to reach individuals in rural and isolated communities. The aims of Dragonfly are:
- to raise awareness around domestic abuse
- to dispel common myths
- offer guidance on how to support someone who is living with domestic abuse
We offer workshops to individuals who are living and working within our communities to become dragonfly champions. And this is a diverse and wide-reaching audience. In fact, that’s the reason that Dragonfly works so well. Some of the people we have taught include:
- school staff
- social groups
A Dragonfly Champion is someone who has completed the workshop and has an increased understanding of domestic abuse. They can then be a knowledgeable person for a victim to speak to, if and when they are ready.
To this date, we have trained over 4500 champions. And if just 10% of those individuals refer into the service, that is an extra 450 people we’ve been able to support. Dragonfly Champions are invaluable to helping break down barriers that victims face when trying to access support services.
Domestic violence is very much a gendered crime which has been highlighted and documented evidently in global and historic research. But there is a growing recognition that domestic abuse can and does affect any individual, regardless of gender, but also class, race, disability, sexuality, or culture/religion. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse and anyone can be a perpetrator.
More men looking for help
Over the last four to five years, we’ve seen an increase in male victims coming to our service. As we discuss in our workshops, men can face additional barriers to accessing support due to societal norms and conventions. Men rarely seek help for their abuse and often believe they should simply tolerate this abuse and suffer in silence.
This only enables, and even reinforces, abusive behaviour. Rather than speak out, men are more likely to withdraw, spend more time at work, retreat into alcohol, read, play sports, watch television, or other ways of denying reality. Men are likely to show a reluctance to trust, exhibit low self-esteem and emotional numbness, and suffer depression. Some men will exhibit physical symptoms. Such as insomnia, fatigue, digestive issues, and headaches. Over time, emotional abuse exacts a huge toll on men and they lose their confidence.
Their self-worth is eroded and they doubt themselves. Which can lead to feeling guilty and fear losing their family, children, home, and financial stability. We’ve seen that men, particularly older men, show a sense of loyalty and duty to their abusive partner. This makes them very reluctant to report to the police let alone push for prosecution.
PARAGON runs the Male Pattern Changing course in order to help men recover from their abuse. This course helps break the pattern of moving from one abusive relationship to another. We run a bespoke Dragonfly workshop for men which gives them the knowledge and tools to refer other men to appropriate services for support.