Paul’s story

  • June 7, 2021
Domestic Abuse can happen to anyone. Male victims don’t always know that what they are experiencing is abuse and often suffer in silence. For some, they are scared of being ridiculed or disbelieved.

Paul is a business owner. A number of years ago, he separated from his wife, who kept their children with her in the family home. The separation started out amicably but quickly deteriorated as his wife’s behaviour changed. The changes were small to start with. She limited Paul’s access to their children and started to make contact with his employees, sometimes turning up at the office and work events, making scenes.

At first, Paul thought this was what happened to most people after a separation, and that it would all settle down over time – he thought his wife’s actions were normal.

Events became worse and more frequent, to the point where Paul contacted the Police for help, hoping that if they spoke to her, her behaviour would calm down. Unfortunately, this course of action didn’t have the desired effect, and the behaviours continued to worsen. This led to her first criminal conviction of domestic violence with the court putting in place a restraining order to protect Paul. His wife then started to target Paul’s new partner and other relatives, stopping him from seeing his children and even sending them suicidal messages while they were with him.

Throughout all of this, Paul’s work life continued as normal, with threats from his wife arriving alongside his usual business activities. Paul described the situation as being “not at all like a movie, where events happen very quickly”. The events Paul describes took place over an extended period of time – it took him 12 months from the start of the abuse to the first time he contacted the Police for help. He felt like it would never end. He says that it was “different to everything I would ever expect. Being in it, I didn’t identify in myself that there was an issue. I didn’t go for help sooner, it all took time – investigating, arresting. It was all reliant on trying to have enough proof for the police.”

Finally Paul’s wife was convicted of a number of further offences and received a custodial sentence.

When asked what was the turning point for him, Paul responds that a Police officer gave him a helpline number, which made him wonder “Why is he doing this? And then I realised that this was abuse”.

Life has become more normal now for Paul. His new partner stayed with him throughout and he can now carry on with normal activities. The abuse did end – people that meet him now would never know what went on.

Paul hasn’t really talked about his experiences of abuse very much, though his colleagues and the people around him knew what was going on. He agrees that “It is good to share your experiences so that other people know that they’re not alone.” Paul called the Mankind helpline and spoke to a support worker anonymously. It was good to be able to speak to someone who didn’t know him.

Paul’s message to others is that every situation is unique. He realises now that he should have asked for help earlier, and wishes that he had, but it took him a while to be ready to. He knows now that his situation wasn’t going to get better without help, but he usually fixes everything himself and didn’t consider himself to be a victim for a long time.

We asked Paul if he could give people one piece of advice on how to break the silence and support someone they know or suspect is experiencing abuse, what would it be?

Other people were standing by me, waiting for me to be ready. Nobody could have pushed me into asking for help any faster than I did. If you suspect that someone you know is suffering abuse, be ready to give them support when the time is right. It is hard going to the Police for help, but you can’t stop the behaviour yourself, you need the right professionals to step in though you might wish you had a magic wand.

Though Paul experienced abuse as a male, he is aware that it is the behaviour that is the problem, it is nothing to do with gender. Men may be less talkative, and less willing to come forward. It is not about being brave or breaking the silence; for him, seeking help was about having come to the end of the road and needing others to step in to resolve the situation.

We need to stop the stigma and ensure that no one suffer abuse.

Get support

Call our helpline on 0800 917 9948 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 09:30–11:30am, 12:30–2:30pm
Thursday and Friday 09:30–11:30am, except bank holidays) or email (if it’s safe to do so)

If you or your family are in immediate danger please call the police on 999 (if you can’t speak, cough or tap the handset then press 55 on your phone – the police will know it’s an emergency)

In a non-emergency situation, you can call Kent Police on 101.

*All images used on this website are representative. All names are anonymised for people’s safety.

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