Man who was domestically abused speaks about being supported at first male refuge in Lancashire
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James (not his real name), said that the 24-hour Men’s Safe Accommodation Service in East Lancashire, which houses up to eight male victims of domestic abuse at a time, has been a lifeline for him.
He spoke to Lancashire County Coun. Peter Buckley, cabinet member for Community and Cultural Services, during a fact-finding visit ahead of Supporting Male Victims of Domestic Abuse Day on Thursday.
James said that he is being well supported by Lancashire County Council through SafeNet (domestic abuse services).
"The staff at the facility have been incredible and really helped me to turn my life around. I was so depressed and quiet when I arrived and over the space of a few months, they have built my confidence back up again.
"I was gradually controlled by my partner over a span of more than 10 years and it didn't dawn on me that it was abuse for a long time.
"I wasn't ever allowed to talk to women and this affected my career as well as my self-esteem. Over time, I wasn't allowed to make any decisions at all, or have control of my finances and my friendships and relationships were policed by her.
"My mental health began to suffer but she would gaslight me if I tried to tell her how I felt, that I was making her mental health worse. Now that I am free of the relationship, I am gradually returning to being the confident and capable man that I was before I was abused.
"If you are unhappy and feel controlled, you are in an abusive relationship. It doesn’t start with violence – it starts with isolating you and making you feel lesser than your partner.
"There's a saying, that if you put a frog in hot water it will jump out but if you put it in cold water and gradually boil it, it will die. That's what abuse is like – it starts out as a love story and ends as a nightmare.
"Nothing I did was ever good enough – but now that I am getting the right support, I will know what the red flags are to look for in future relationships. Thanks to the help that I have had, I know that my future is bright again."
During their stay at Men’s Safe Accommodation Service, residents are supported by experienced domestic abuse practitioners to recover from trauma, build their health and confidence and take control of their lives.
They are also supported to further develop their household skills, including cooking and budgeting, and staff work with other agencies to provide additional support service and counselling to help them to develop healthy relationships going forward.
The residents are also encouraged back into education, career counselling and learning new job skills.
For male victims of abuse, call Mankind confidentially on weekdays (10am-4pm) on 01823 334244 or the Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.