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Amen, Navan, answers the prayers of male abuse victims

Molly Bruce and Alyson Landry report on male abuse victims

Over 600 phone calls were made in January of this year to Amen, a helpline for men who suffer from domestic abuse. “It happens more than you think,” said Mary T. Cleary, founder of Amen.
Cleary started the organisation in 1997 when she realized there was a need for it. She had been a nurse, and she had seen men come in with domestic injuries – only for them to lie about their injuries to protect the women who inflicted them.
Feeling isolated, scared and confused, some men choose to go through it alone. They think no one will listen and people will ridicule them. They are being abused by their wife or girlfriend, and they think there is nowhere to turn.
Some abusive women would withhold finances from their husbands. Some belittled them to the point of zero self esteem, or worse, suicide. Some went so far as to stab them.
At a presentation entitled “Deconstructing the Myths: Male Victims of Domestic Violence” at Liberties College on 2 March, Cleary explained just how prevalent domestic abuse against men is. She knows many people don’t realize it’s a problem.

Cleary said, “The men that come to me are gentle men, in every sense of the word.” She said they often don’t want to report it for fear of being laughed at or disregarded.
The 2005 National Crime Council found that 26 per cent of men suffer domestic abuse in Ireland and 13 per cent of men suffer physical abuse. However, while 1 in 3 women report instances to the Garda, only about 1 in 20 men do the same.
Yvette Reid, a student studying professional counselling at Liberties College, has been involved with Amen for the last few weeks and attended the event.
“There’s not much information out there about it,” she said. “It’s sort of similar to when a woman is abused – except that with a man, it’s a bit more emotional.”
Tim Creedon, another student studying professional counselling, said that as a man “it’s hard to believe”. He also said that the issue never entered his mind before, and that he would recommend the organisation to any abuse victims.

Because of the social stigma against men who are abused, Cleary said it’s often difficult for them to prove it, especially if there is no physical abuse. They also do not want to leave the abusive relationship for many reasons, especially if they have children, because courts typically grant the woman custody.“It’s very difficult to prove bullying behind closed doors,” Cleary said. When men or concerned friends and family members contact Amen, they are offered support through counselling or attending 10 group sessions to get them back on their feet. Amen also helps prepare them for court.

There is a small charge for one-on-one counselling, and men who attend the group sessions are asked to make a small donation. A phone call, though, is free.
As the presentation pointed out, “Society does not have the right to discriminate against victims of domestic violence because of their gender.”

For more information on Amen, go to amen.ie or call 046-902-3718
http://www.amen.ie/index.html

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