Available data on male victims of domestic abuse remains “scarce and inconsistent”, a paper has revealed.
The review by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast said the impact of intimate partner violence (IPV) against men and boys in Northern Ireland lacks detailed understanding.
IPV is defined by researchers as any act of “physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression (including coercive tactics) by a current or former intimate partner”.
Northern Ireland’s first conference focusing on male victims of domestic abuse was held in Belfast last week.
The event, organised by the Men’s Advisory Project NI (MAP), highlighted there is no dedicated refuge in Northern Ireland for male victims or their children.
The new research from Queen’s reviewed 67 global studies of IPV and mental health outcomes in men but found that only eight were UK-based and none were conducted in Northern Ireland.
Geraldine Hanna, commissioner designate for victims of crime in Northern Ireland, said the lack of knowledge would impact the ability to provide services.
“Sadly and concerningly, there is a real dearth of empirical data and understanding about IPV against males in Northern Ireland,” she said.
“Without a proper understanding of the scale, extent and impact of the issue, we cannot accurately deliver and design supports or services appropriately.
“If we are serious about supporting male victims of IPV and designing services which accurately and appropriately support men and boys, a strong and reliable evidence base is a crucial first step in achieving this.
“This includes obtaining an understanding of the wide range of mental health impacts which are associated with victims of IPV, understanding perceptions and stigma associated with IPV, and how IPV affects different groups of men in different ways.”
Priority areas identified by the report include identifying the true extent of abuse in relationships among males in Northern Ireland and understanding stigma and perceptions associated with being a victim of abuse in a relationship.
Dr Emily McGlinchey, from the Research Centre for Stress, Trauma, & Related Conditions at Queen’s, said the report was a “timely and significant piece of work”.
“Our research has found that the available evidence on IPV among males in the UK, and especially in Northern Ireland, is scarce and inconsistent,” she said.
“Without a strong evidence base, we know very little about the extent to which males experience IPV, what those experiences look like, and consequently what the mental health impacts are.
“We hope that this report will act as a call to action for all stakeholders involved in the victims sector to coalesce their efforts to understand the extent and nature of IPV more fully among males and will be the first step towards creating and designing services which are adequately matched to the reality of the need.”