This is a guest blog post written by Mark Brooks OBE, Chair of ManKind Initiative

Every year, over 2,500 men contact us through the helpline we run and the latest Office for National Statistics figures show 800,000 men (and 1.6 million women) are victims of domestic abuse every year. A terrible crime based on an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The Government are currently pushing a Domestic Abuse Bill through Parliament that will add to the powers needed to tackle this.

The charity has supported male victims since 2001 and one of the barriers they face in escaping a toxic relationship is they fear not being believed, not being taken seriously and do not know where to turn to. Nearly half of men who are victims of domestic abuse fail to tell anyone. Another barrier can be the lack of a positive response, understanding and professional curiosity from support services such as the police, the health service, housing, employers and the justice system. The situation is thankfully far better now than it used to be when the response was largely one of dismissiveness. Gender stereotypes meant that it was “not possible” for a man to be a victim of domestic abuse is now becoming a thing of the past.

Having said that, there are still opportunities to improve understanding about the specific barriers and experiences that male victims of domestic abuse face. There is still a real need to be professionally curious towards men who are potentially in abusive relationship.

The CPD accredited course that we have designed in partnership with Me Learning is based on two decades of supporting male victims directly, the experience of the charity’s qualified professionals and our team of academic experts as well. It aims to help those with a basic understanding of domestic abuse to then build a more nuanced and gender-informed understanding of the additional barriers and experiences that men face. Understanding is only part of the equation, so the course also focuses on the type of action and support that male victims need to help them escape and rebuild their lives.

For busy professionals, and even more so in the current climate, an online learning course on this subject offers an opportunity to add that extra knowledge at a time that suits. We partnered with Me Learning because we have successfully worked with in the past on a similar course for the Armed Forces, so it made sense to continue with this trusted relationship. Certainly their values and clear commitment to those that the charity supports are aligned with ours.

In today’s world, the need for a gender- informed approach that recognises diversity and inclusion has never been more important. Covid-19 has exacerbated this with more victims of domestic abuse coming forward all of the time. Ensuring we improve the support for male victims of domestic abuse is vital if we are to live in a fully inclusive society. We are confident this course will play an important role in supporting professionals provide better support.