When thinking about domestic abuse, which can include physical, emotional and sexual abuse, your thoughts may automatically conjure up an image of a female victim.
Yet men are also, frequently, victims of domestic abuse, be it from a female partner or a male one.
The recent conviction and sentencing of Sharon Edwards for the murder of her husband has brought the issue to the forefront, with calls for increased awareness and better training for to professionals, to encourage men to report abuse and feel assured that they will be taken seriously.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and anyone can be an abuser. UK Government statistics suggest that one in six men will be victims of domestic abuse at some stage of their life, although there is every possibility the actual figure is much higher.
Out of every three victims, two will be female and one will be male. Seeking help however can be hard, with stigma and a fear of not being believed being two of the factors that make men less likely to make a complaint to the police.
The abuser may also threaten to say that they were the one being attacked, making victims fear that if they leave or tell anyone, they will find that they are the ones who are arrested.
Knowing where to turn is another issue, and there are currently only 78 refuge spaces that can be used by men around Britain, only 33 of which are dedicated for males – the rest can be used by victims of either gender. This compares with around 4,000 refuge spaces for women.
Everyone has the right to live in safety, free from fear.
A common misconception is that the law only protects women, but the reality is both men and women have the same right to protection from domestic abuse.
The police treat all incidents of domestic abuse as high priority. Other options include non-molestation and occupation orders, civil court orders which aim to secure the future protection of victims of domestic violence, regardless of gender.
Legal aid continues to be available for applications for protective injunctions.
There are also organisations dedicated to providing practical advice and support to men experiencing domestic abuse, including Men’s Advice Line, 0808 801 0327, www.mensadviceline.org.uk.
Lyndsay Tasker works at Lincoln-based Sills & Betteridge Solicitors.