(BJ used the term ‘overwhelming’ to describe both female victims and male perpetrators of domestic abuse. Our letter dated 12 June 2020)
Dear Mr Johnson,
We are writing to you regarding the statement you shared on Twitter after the Hidden Harms Summit.
Your statements were factually incorrect and damaging for male victims of Domestic Abuse who are three times less likely to report their experience of abuse due to comments like this:
You said: “I want every victim of domestic abuse, domestic violence domestic abuse of every kind and as I say, that they’re overwhelmingly but not exclusively female, I want every woman to know every female person in this country you know she is not alone she is not alone and I also want every perpetrator of domestic abuse and violence and they are overwhelmingly male I want them to know that they won’t get away with it and we as a society are determined to come down on them like a ton of bricks.”
Only 10% of male victims of Domestic Abuse report their abuse to the police, compared to 29% of women. If male victims would feel as comfortable to report their abuse as female victims, the ratio of men and women reporting abuse would be almost 50/50. 1
The ONS figures, based on national surveys, suggest a 35/65 split of male and female victims.2 As more than 1 in 3 victims are male, it would be wrong to call them the overwhelming minority of victims. Male victims are a marginalised group and are being discriminated against.
The incorrect assumption of DA being a “women’s issue” lead to the resources available to female victims being about 99% and only 1% for men. Your statement implies that it should be even less.
Your words did not only show support for female victims, but unintentionally indicated that male victims cannot expect support from this government.
Last summer Victoria Atkins used the term ‘overwhelming’ also to describe the proportion of female DA victims. A complaint by the Men and Boys Coalition to the Office for Statistics Regulation was upheld by them on 1st Oct 2019 in which they state that the use of the word ‘overwhelming’ would “imply that a larger proportion of victims are female than the statistics show.”
Please be very careful in future to ensure that your words reflect the evidence and that male victims are recognised and their proportionate needs met. Please make a statement to correct these factual errors.
1 ONS BCS Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences 2014/15 Appendix Table 4.2
2 Office for National Statistics (ONS)
- Mike Bell, Equi-law UK
- Philipp Tanzer, United 4 Men
- Stephen Fitzgerald, Men and Women Working Together
- Will Davis, Campaign for Shared parenting
- Richard Leighton, male domestic abuse survivor
- Chris Home, male domestic abuse survivor
- Andrew Macpherson, male domestic abuse survivor
- Don Marshall, male domestic abuse survivor
Reply from Home Office public enquiries. 9 July 2020
Dear Mr Bell,
Thank you for your email of 12 June about male victims of domestic abuse. Your email
has been passed to the Home Office for a response.
We would like to assure you that domestic abuse continues to be a key priority for this
Government. That is why we first introduced our landmark Domestic Abuse Bill last year
alongside a comprehensive action plan of non-legislative measures. The Bill will help to
better protect and support the victims of domestic abuse and their children and bring
perpetrators to justice. Ensuring that these changes are properly supported and used
effectively to protect victims and potential victims of domestic abuse is a key priority for us.
We recognise that anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender,
ethnicity or age. That is why we created a gender-neutral statutory definition as this is
critical in ensuring that all victims, including men, can benefit from the measures included
in the Bill and, indeed, receive appropriate support from statutory agencies.
We published in 2019 a dedicated male victims position statement to recognise the needs
of male victims of the crimes considered in the VAWG Strategy, and also to clarify and
strengthen our response. You can read this here. However, we know that crimes such as
domestic abuse, sexual violence, so called “honour-based” abuse and stalking do
disproportionately affect women and girls, which is why our approach to tackling these
issues is framed within a VAWG Strategy.
We know that victims’ individual needs must be at the centre of service provisions,
including through an understanding of their gender and sexual orientation, which is why we
have provided specific funding just to male victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence,
• £500,000 to improve support to male victims of domestic abuse;
• Funding for the Men’s Advice Line which provides support and advice to male
victims of domestic abuse;
• Funding to Galop which provides advice and support to LGBT populations affected
by domestic abuse;
• Funding for a number of LGBT-focused projects through the Home Office VAWG
Service Transformation Fund;
• £452,000 from the Ministry of Justice to 12 organisations in England and Wales to
provide services for male victims of rape and sexual violence;
• The Ministry of Justice has provided £194,000 funding for a national online service
for men and £100,000 for the male rape telephone helpline pilot so that male
victims of rape and sexual violence are able to access support and information
through other channels.
We have also committed to conducting a review of the National Statement of Expectations
and its impact on the local commissioning of male support services, as well as improving
the gender breakdown of Crown Prosecution Service and police data to better understand
the numbers of male victims of domestic abuse who engage with the criminal justice
The Home Office funds the Men’s Advice Line, run by Respect, to provide support to male
victims of domestic abuse. For this financial year (2020/2021) we have allocated
£168,000 for the male victims helpline. They have also, as part of this funding, agreed to
increase their opening hours from 40 to 46 hours a week to include two evenings for the
period 2019 – 2022. In addition we have provided Respect £151,000 from the £2 million
package announced by the Home Secretary on 11 April to bolster this helpline in response
We have worked to ensure that the statutory definition of domestic abuse is genderneutral, as we recognise that anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of
gender, sexuality or age. It is vital that we recognise the gendered nature of abuse and we
consider that the right place to address this issue is through the statutory guidance on the
definition of domestic abuse that will accompany the legislation. However we are clear
that men can be victims of domestic abuse too, and the statutory guidance will recognise
this and will go into further detail on male victims.
In preparing the draft guidance, we have consulted with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and domestic abuse organisations working with victims and survivors,
including those representing the male victims such as ManKind. The draft guidance was
published on 2 July and is available at
We hope that this has assured you that we recognise the needs of male victims of
domestic abuse and we are taking action to support them.
Public Protection Unit.