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New book uncovers female domestic abuse

A new book recounting the experiences of male victims of domestic abuse perpetrated by a spouse or partner, is due to be published by the support group, Abused Men (AMEN), shortly.

The book, Letters to AMEN, will contain excerpts from over 60 letters, written by men who are victims of domestic abuse or by family members who have witnessed the abuse.

It is hoped that this latest publication will help raise awareness of the emerging problem of domestic vio-lence against men and encourage a greater understanding of the issue. "Domestic violence is not just a 'women's issue'," says Mary Cleary, founder of AMEN. "It is a social issue affecting men, women and children, and needs to be examined in this context. As we begin the 21st century, all domestic abuse victims, regardless of age or gender, deserve our sympathy, compassion and equal access to services."

While working for many years as a nurse in the Northern Eastern Health Board, Mary says she encountered numerous men who presented with physical injuries caused by a wife or female partner.

Although the men usually refused to admit how their injuries were caused, Mary recalls how they gradually acknowledged the origin of their injuries once their hospital visits became more frequent.

Because there was no existing support service, at that time, for men who were victims of female-perpetrated domestic abuse. Mary set up the group AMEN in 1997.

Since then, the organisation has received over 20,000 calls and letters from men throughout the country and from all kinds of professions, who have been victims of domestic abuse.

"Setting up AMEN was the first step in lifting the veil of secrecy on another of society's social taboos -the abuse of men in their homes by their spouses," adds Mary.

"Thousands of people from all parts of Ireland have since contacted AMEN to tell of the abuse suffered by men at the hands of their wives or partners. The stories we have heard over the years have detailed all imaginable, and some unimaginable, forms of abuse and yet there have been common threads running through all these stories. The desire to control, using bullying tactics, is the predominant factor in abusive relationships. Most of the men spoke of their isolation and the lack of support available to them."

In one of the letters published in Letters to AMEN, one man describes how he dealt with years of mental and physical abuse from his wife: "I have gone to work with black eyes, cut lips and scratches, and made up the usual excuses. Even worse is the psychological abuse. I have learned not to react any more. I have driven my car around all night rather than go home to our house. Then on a few occasions when I returned home, I found all my clothes and other personal belongings thrown outside the door."

In another excerpt, a man recounts his experience of mental collapse after his wife received a barring order, even though she was the abuser.

"My zest and enthusiasm for work and life have never recovered," he writes. "I was too deflated and depressed to continue. My business, a healthy firm established 11 years earlier, began to go into decline for want of initiative and energy. During the hopelessness deprived of access to my beloved children, ejected like a criminal from my home on malicious, unverified evidence without recourse to justice or any form of help - I frequently considered taking my life."

As well as outlining the personal experiences of men who are victims of domestic abuse; the book highlights a biases in Irish society pertaining to the problem in particular, within the healthcare and judicial system.

The potential long-term effects of domestic abuse on men are also outlined.

For further information on AMEN contact 046-9023718 or visit the amen website..

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