UK – ‘Time is right’ for first male refuge to set up in Cornwall

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009, 09:47
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MALE victims of domestic abuse in Cornwall are speaking out for the first time thanks to a new Truro-based advice and support service.

Michael Sampson, who claimed he was punched, kicked and even stabbed by his former wife after 25 years of marriage, said he owes his life to Esteem.

Managers of the scheme, established in March, believe demand for its service is now so high that it needs to open the county’s first ever male refuge.

Speaking during National Domestic Violence week, Andrew Baker, a counsellor and advocate with Esteem, said more men are coming forward and speaking out about the abuse they have suffered.


He said many victims remain silent because they are afraid of being ridiculed or even arrested by the police.

“I have seen men who have been abused by their children and their partners, some attacks are violent others are more psychological, but most of the men I have come into contact with have been arrested at some time as a result of false allegations.

“It is one way of seeking revenge and unfortunately it leaves many men feeling helpless,” he added.

Andrew has dealt with 73 cases since Esteem was launched eight months ago.

According to the Government’s own figures, 40% of men are victims of domestic abuse – verbal, emotional or physical – and yet there are 3,000 refuge places for women and just 11 for men, said Andrew.

“The nearest male refuge for victims in Cornwall is in north Somerset and they are constantly booked up,” he added.

Now he is seeking funding to help set up the county’s first male refuge along with a peer support group to help men living in rural areas.

Michael Sampson, from Mawnan Smith, had to cope with “vicious rumours and lies” which he said were spread by his ex-wife to discredit his name.

“In the last few months of our marriage there were heated arguments. She was constantly tormenting me and attacking me. I have been bitten, kicked until I was violently sick, and stabbed in the hand with a kitchen knife,” he said.

He said things became so bad that he even considered suicide, until one day when she punched him and he lashed out and hit her back. Mr Sampson was arrested but the police photographed his injuries and asked if he wanted to press charges against his wife, which he declined.

“It was a volatile situation and looking back I thought I was in control when I wasn’t. But men don’t like to admit they can’t cope, we’re supposed to be strong. It was the constant mental torture, the emotional torment that finally took its toll,” added Mr Sampson who paid tribute to Esteem and the support it gave him.

“Andrew has been a great friend. He listens and never judges. I am finally getting my life back on track, I owe him so much,” he said.

For confidential advice and support Esteem can be contacted on 01872 226981
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“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is
striking at the root.”   — Henry David Thoreau


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