Violence people like to ignore

News Shopper: VICTIM OF VIOLENCE: Man2Man founder George Rolph	NF0002/3 VICTIM OF VIOLENCE: Man2Man founder George Rolph NF0002/3

Domestic violence against men is a subject society seems happy to ignore. Reporter MICHELLE FRAME spoke to one male victim who is determined to lift this wall of silence on a very painful subject ...

IMAGINE being beaten repeatedly by the person you love most. Imagine the terror of being threatened with a knife and feeling so scared you cannot even make a drink without fearing reprisals.

Now imagine no-one believes you. This is George Rolph's true story.

As a male victim of domestic violence, he is only too aware of the stigma faced by battered husbands.

In 1996 the 50-year-old, of Capstone Road, Downham, was ecstatic after meeting a woman he got on well with little knowing she would eventually make him suicidal.

He said: "We got on really, really well but a couple of months later she started to get violent.

"I didn't even dare make a cup of tea and was kept in a state of constant anxiety."

Gradually the woman's behaviour became worse but, like many male perpetrators, George's partner seemed unable to accept she was doing anything wrong.

'I was bleeding but she just asked me what I wanted for dinner'
GEORGE ROLPH

He said: "I spent all morning making a shelf but because I didn't use the piece of wood she had got she hit me with it.

"She cracked my head open and then, as I lay on the floor, she smacked the wardrobe door in my face.

"My shirt had turned red because I was bleeding but she just asked me what I wanted for dinner as if nothing had happened."

However, George feels it is the emotional abuse which can cause the most problems.

SHOCKING FIGURES
  • l According to recent Government statistics, 19 per cent of domestic violence incidents were reported to have male victims, with just under half of these being committed by a woman.
  • However, men's rights groups think the true figure is a lot higher and around one in every six incidents of domestic violence are committed by women on men.
  • George operates a 24-hour helpline for male victims. If you would like advice or to make a donation, call 020 8698 9649.

He said: "The experiences most of us go through are the drip, drip, drip kind which wear away at our self-esteem, our confidence, our ability to fight back. Those wounds often do not heal."

The prejudice faced by male victims is something George, a former motorcycle courier, has dedicated his life to fighting.

Determined to turn around his experiences, including a second violent relationship, he set up the support organisation Man2Man and was shocked when he received more than 1,000 emails.

His message to society seems simple a victim is a victim regardless of race or gender.

l In his quest to help male victims George has beaten down many doors but he feels those of Lewisham Council are yet to fall.

After making a presentation last year and becoming a member of Lewisham's Domestic Violence Forum, George was hoping for funding to distribute leaflets and train helpline operators.

He believes his plea fell on deaf ears but a spokesman for the council denied it did take not the issue seriously.

The spokesman said: "The council aims to support all groups and communities including men. The same services as there are for women apply for men with the exception of a refuge."

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