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Male domestic abuse

"I was a young man in my early twenties when she first started hitting me."

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My story of domestic abuse as a man

Male domestic abuse?

Surely not. After all a man is bigger/stronger.

Surely this is a myth?

I was a young man in my early twenties when she first started hitting me.

My then girlfriend was 5ft 3 and about the same build as Kylie, so physically it was no contest.

The first time it occurred I was talking to a friend in a pub in town. Strolling up nonchalantly my girlfriend grabbed at my face, causing a large gash. I pushed her away and she apologised, citing jealously and alcohol.

I let it go.

The second time shortly after, I was at a party, again talking to some friends, when I was shoved and fell flying down a flight of stairs. Again, an apology, again alcohol cited. Again, I let it go.

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The next time and the next time, my friends had begun to ask me why I was tolerating this behaviour.
I brushed off their concerns. I was big enough to look after myself and the behaviour was “normal” as it usually involved alcohol and jealousy.

The final straw was when she attacked me at a family gathering and scratched my eyeball.

Her brother and sister approached me and simply said, “what are you doing letting her hit you like that?”

I broke off the relationship and carried on with my life.

Her behaviour had become a running joke with my friends and 30 years later it is still mentioned.

As a 51-year-old man, who is now “slightly” more emotionally aware, I realise that I was a victim of physical and mental domestic abuse. I had normalised my girlfriend’s behaviour.

I was a young man, who in the 80’s had only ever heard of women suffering abuse. I put it down to my then girlfriend being insecure.

The BBC recently published statistics from charities supporting men who have suffered domestic abuse, showing a 60% increase during COVID 19.  As I sadly previously believed, domestic abuse is certainly not a gender specific issue. It is a worryingly increasing problem, that can affect anyone at any time.

Nick O'Neill is the Chambers Director at Oriel Chambers and a LawCare volunteer and champion

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