The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has acknowledged male victims of domestic violence for the first time, with the publication of new guidance.
This declares unequivocally that male victims of abuse and violence by their partners deserve specific consideration by the authorities, as is already the case for LGBT or ethnic minority victims. It acknowledges the unique challenges faced by abused men, such as the risk of disbelief or ridicule. Case studies cited by the CPS for prosecutors will address these pressures and the unhelpful stereotypes that have hindered the recognition of abused men and boys in the past, such as the widespread misconception that forced marriage amongst ethnic minority communities only affects young women.
More men’s groups will be included in the scrutiny of future CPS policies and in public statements, to help address attitudes which hinder the acknowledgement of male victims in the past.
The occasionally controversial director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, explained:
“The way society views masculinity can make it very difficult for men and boys who are the victims of sexual and domestic offences to come forward. This ‘public statement’ formalises the CPS commitment to male victims and recognises that stereotypes of masculinity and femininity can, and do, feed sexist and homophobic assumptions. These can deter male victims from reporting abuse and pursuing a prosecution.”
Writing on his blog Heteronormative Patriarchy for Men, social affairs journalist Ally Fogg described the statement as “the single greatest step forward for male victims in the justice system that this country has ever seen.” But, he added, the CPS’ open acknowledgement that this was the first statement it had ever made on male victims was also a matter for “horror”.
An annual report published by the CPS summarising the latest statistics on violence and abuse has been criticised in previous years for presenting the data as though it concerned only woman and girls. Last year’s edition added a new subheading reading ‘(INCLUSIVE OF DATA ON MEN AND BOYS)’, and also included a breakdown by gender of the victims of different types of violence for the first time. This showed, amongst other revelations, that one in six victims of domestic violence are actually male, despite the classification of the data as ‘against women and girls’.