Friday, July 16, 2010

GoodTherapy - Treating Male Victims of Domestic Violence

Despite decades of pioneering work with female victims of domestic violence that has provided valuable information for therapists, the topic of male victimization has been systematically rejected and bypassed as politically incorrect. This has left many counselors unsure about how to effectively treat male victims and concerned they aren’t getting the best support. Yet, the UK Home Office suggests that as many males as females are victims.

We have a lot of work to do in changing our cultural perceptions about issues like this. There is some evidence that men in the US are hit/abused by female partners as much as females are hit by male partners - but they fear ridicule if they report it. This needs to change.

Interestingly, a similar article appeared in the Sunday Sun in January, 2009.
Treating Male Victims of Domestic Violence

A News Headline

The British Psychological Society, as well as many of the therapists who work within it, is concerned that male victims of domestic violence may not be getting the support they need because of counselors’ own limitations and preconceptions. In a small study presented at the organization’s national conference, experts said trained counselors feel ill-prepared treating males who come in for domestic violence therapy. Counselors admit having preconceived notions over victimization and gender roles, and struggle to adapt female-oriented victim recovery methods to male victims. Despite efforts to raise domestic violence awareness, male victims are often stigmatized, even though some agencies suspect that nearly as many males are victims of domestic violence as are females.

Here is the article from British Psychological Society:

Counsellors struggle to treat male victims of domestic violence

Some trained counsellors feel unprepared to treat male victims of domestic violence due to their own assumptions about domestic abuse.

This is one of the findings of Kevin Hogan* and John Hegarty from the University of Keele who discussed the findings on Saturday 10th July at The British Psychological Society's Division of Counselling Psychology's annual conference at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

In 2008 6.4% of men in England and Wales between the ages of 20 and 24 reported having been the victim of domestic abuse and Home Office figures suggest the problem is evenly spread between the sexes. (Ref

Despite this and decades of pioneering work with female victims of domestic abuse that has provided clear, usable information to therapists the subject of male victimisation has been systematically rejected and bypassed as politically incorrect. This has left many counsellors unsure about how to effectively treat victims and concerned they aren't getting the best support.

Kevin explained: "Male counsellor's stereotype who can be a victim and women counsellors fare no better, since such male clients naturally fear being with women. This leaves the abused male with a tough job to do, educating his counsellor as well as helping himself."

A small-scale study was designed to understand better how counsellors respond to working with male victims of domestic violence. They interviewed six therapists (three women and three male) and found that some of them had to reassess their own view of male and female roles in society.

Kevin said: "All of the counsellors spoke about experiencing an element of surprise as a result of a lack of awareness of male victimisation and assumptions around domestic abuse. They described how they had to suppress their surprise so as not to make the client feel uncomfortable.

All counsellors said they need more awareness training so that they can offer the best support to these vulnerable men."

* The study was undertaken as part of Kevin's post-graduate dissertation.

Note - The findings have significant implications for the counselling profession as a result of recently introduced European equality laws, which now require that services do not discriminate on the grounds of gender.

British Psychological Society

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