The first ever research project in which I was involved found exactly the same thing. Fifteen years later, there’s no change.
An inch under six foot tall, Dave, a gardener with a deep, gravelly voice is not most people’s idea of a domestic violence victim. But he suffered two years of abuse at the hands of his girlfriend and was too embarrassed and loyal to report her to the police. He slept in his car for weeks before speaking to his local council, who found him a place at a men’s refuge. He struggles to keep it together when he recalls the day his girlfriend smashed a bottle of Jack Daniels across his head, leaving him bleeding on the pavement: a deep scar is still clearly visible on his forehead. But when the 45-year-old from Essex describes the relief of being believed by the authorities, he breaks down, his broad shoulders heaving beneath his rugby shirt.
“When help finally comes it’s an emotional thing,” he says, sitting on the sofa at a safe house in Berkshire where he is being helped to rebuild his life. “As a man, it’s very difficult to say you’ve been beaten up. It seems like you’re the big brute and she’s the daffodil, but sometimes it’s not like that.”