Skip to contentClick to Exit website

Helping men escape
domestic abuse

Directory of Services

Freephone 0808 800 1170

Directory of Services

Helpline 0808 800 1170

Is a man you know a victim? Spotting the Signs

There is a range of support and information available to help male victims of domestic abuse escape and for friends, family and work colleagues to help too. Whilst you cannot always tell what goes on behind closed doors,  there are some telltale signs and symptoms of emotional, psychological or physical  abuse.  If you notice these warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member, or work colleague, please think how you can help him escape.

It is key to remember that domestic abuse does not always mean physical violence – it also covers coercive and controlling behaviour, including psychological and emotional control. Some men do not suffer from violence but suffer terrible psychological and emotional abuse.

If you are unsure, please call us  – we receive lots of calls from concerned friends and family – every call is welcome. We would suggest you also look at our Survivors’ Stories page – is the man you know, going through the same? And of course, if there is a man you know who is in immediate danger – call the police.

The warning signs that a man could be a victim fall into four main categories:

  • Changes in behaviour or demeanour
  • Changes in physical appearance and clothing
  • Changes in contact pattern
  • Changes in work behaviour

If you are an employer and think one of your male staff is a victim – please refer to the Safe Lives Employer Guide  or the Business in the Community / Public Health England Employers’ Toolkit  

Warning Signs

Warning signs of psychological control
Men who are being abused may:
  • Seem afraid of or are anxious to please their partner
  • Go along with everything their partner says and does
  • Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing
  • Are being belittled, humiliated, and humiliated – “he is a rubbish, weak men”
  • If a father’s children are persuaded by their mother to turn against him (Parental Alienation)
  • Threatened that if he leaves he will never see his children again
  • Threatened with false accusations that he is the perpetrator
  • Being convinced they are going ‘mad’ or losing their ‘mind’ (called “Gaslighting“)
  • Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner
  • Talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness
  • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident
  • Threatened that if he leaves, he will be falsely accused of carrying out domestic abuse, sexual violence and even sexual abuse against the children
  • Show major personality changes (an outgoing person becomes withdrawn)
  • Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal
  • Take up, or, increase drink or drugs usage
  • Not taking his appearance seriously (being unkempt, unhygienic)
  • Looking unwell (including lack of sleep/insomnia)
Warning signs of physical abuse:
Men who are being physically abused may:

  • Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents” (“I walked into the door again…”)
  • Frequently miss work or social occasions, without explanation
  • Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors)
Warning signs of isolation:
People who are being isolated by their abuser may:

  • Be restricted from seeing family and friends
  • Never or rarely goes out in public without their partner
  • Has no (or no longer has) access to social media
  • Not being able to go to or return from work on their own
  • Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car

You may hear (in person or via the ‘grapevine’) from his partner that he now has no time for or dislikes his friends and family

Speak up if you suspect domestic violence or domestic abuse

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his (and his children’s).

Talk to the person in private and let him know that you’re concerned. Point out the things you’ve noticed that make you worried. Tell the person that you’re there, whenever he feels ready to talk. Reassure the person that you’ll keep whatever is said between the two of you, and let him know that you’ll help in any way you can.

Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing.

If you are an employer and think one of your male staff is a victim – please refer to the Public Health England Employers’ Toolkit

Do’s and Don’ts
Ask if something is wrongWait for him  to come to you
Express concernJudge or blame
Listen and validate (believe them)Pressure him
Offer help (build a plan)Give advice
Support his decisionsPlace conditions on your support
Persuade them to call helplines or the police (offer to go with him)Show any doubt
Give him confidence that their can be a positive outcome
Reassure him – he is not to blame, he is  not weak, he is not alone
Show them examples of other men this has happened to (use our Survivors’ Stories section)
Thank you to Helpguide and Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. for some of this information