Four out of the five most recent victims of domestic violence in Cornwall were men, new figures reveal, giving the county one the highest rates of female-on-male violence in the UK.
Nationally, roughly two women are killed in domestic violence for every one man across the UK, and the authorities cannot explain why the opposite has been true in Cornwall over the past five years.
Michelle Davies is strategy manager for Safer Cornwall, a coalition of front line agencies working in the field. Talking to the BBC, she admitted that reasons for the situation in in the county were “difficult to pinpoint” and that she was “nervous” about speculation.
But she insisted:
“We’ve done an awful lot of work following the reviews of the fatalities that recognise that we need to be better at promoting services’ availability to male victims and increasing public awareness that men can be victims too.”
Safer Cornwall launched a campaign to raise awareness of male victims of domestic violence amongst both professionals and the public following a review into the death of Alan Clinch in 2012. The Liskeard man was stabbed in the heart with a pair of scissors by his wife during a row about tidying their home.
She was found not guilty of murder but was convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and sentenced to nine years.
Alan’s older brother Peter described the killing as “hellish”. He told the BBC:
“You think ‘I should have done something’ but of course if you didn’t know, what could you do? It’s shocking, it’s infuriating.”
The review found widespread reluctance to address domestic violence against men amongst both the victims themselves and frontline professionals.
Cornwall is also home to one of the UK’s only domestic violence shelters for men. Staff have been in contact with around 80 men in its first 12 months of operation, and provided accommodation to around 11.
Staff member Sue McDermott said:
“What we try to explain to professionals in the field is that it’s not the size of the man that means they couldn’t defend themselves; often they’ve got values which means they won’t hit back“.
An average of 190 people are killed each year in the UK as a result of domestic violence. Around 60 are men.