Tory group leader speaks up about domestic violence against men

Conservative Councillor Pauline Winchester, who is not happy with the lack of Holyrood money being made available to male victims of domestic abuse.
Conservative Councillor Pauline Winchester, who is not happy with the lack of Holyrood money being made available to male victims of domestic abuse.

The Conservatives Midlothian group leader has accused the Scottish Government of forgetting male victims of domestic abuse.

Councillor Pauline Winchester made the accusation about the “unspoken” issue after a constituent, who had to leave a violent relationship, contacted her looking for advice.

The Scottish Government defended itself, calling Scotland’s new Domestic Abuse Bill “gender neutral”.

Cllr Winchester said: “We hear a lot in the press about domestic violence, but it is mainly about violence towards women. The still unspoken domestic violence is against men. We all know that there are volunteer groups that support women, but what happens when a man suffers domestic violence?

“One such man living in Midlothian is on a campaign to raise the profile of this still unmentioned violence. He had been in a violent partnership and had to leave with his children.

“He came to me asking me if I knew anything on the subject and other than the normal reading around the situation I had to confess that I had never met someone in his situation or even heard of one.”

Cllr Winchester asked Lothian List MSP Jeremy Balfour to raise the issue at Holyrood, asking how much funding men’s groups receive to tackle domestic abuse. She was shocked to discover that the only group to address the gap in service provision for men – Abused Men In Scotland – does not receive any funding.

She added: “The Justice Secretary Michael Matheson promotes the new Domestic Abuse Bill as being the best thing for women and is promising additional funding to the core funding of £370,000 per year to the Scottish Women’s Aid National Office. Where is the funding for any male organisation? Where is his understanding of that unspoken area of male domestic abuse?

“I am not saying that less money should go to Women’s Aid, but I and the resident who came to me is asking for some money to go specifically to help men suffering in silence with domestic abuse in Scotland. A group specifically for men with all the problems that come with the situation they find themselves in.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “While the vast majority of domestic abuse victims are female, Scotland’s new domestic abuse offence is gender-neutral and once implemented will be available to use to prosecute abuse committed against both males and females. This new offence is crafted in this way to acknowledge anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, and it criminalises both physical abuse and, crucially, psychological abuse such as coercive controlling behaviour which has been difficult to prosecute under previous laws.

“The Scottish Government condemns all forms of violence and abuse. We understand the prevailing societal view of what constitutes masculinity makes it difficult for some men to identify themselves as experiencing abuse and can prevent them seeking help. That is why we also support the provision of helpline services and associated work to enhance mainstream services’ responses to men who experience abuse.”