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
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'
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.
- 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."