Bedfordshire Police's message on International Men’s Day: it’s OK to ask for help Image By Dm AdobeStock_294156841

Charities and helplines are reporting soaring numbers of people contacting them for help with a number of issues during the second national lockdown, including domestic abuse and sexual offences.

Domestic abuse can affect anyone of any age, gender, sexuality, social background or profession, and encompass a wide range of offences, including actual violence or mental abuse.

This behaviour can include bullying and coercive and controlling behaviour. Such as denying someone access to their own money, cutting them off from friends and family. As well as constantly belittling and checking up on them.

Fewer than 10 per cent of all reports to police are concerned with male victims, despite figures that show almost 800,000 men experienced domestic abuse in the last year.

Detective Chief Inspector Craig Laws, head of Bedfordshire Police’s Emerald Team, which investigates domestic crime, said:

“Although the number of men coming forward is low, we know that men are also victims of domestic abuse, and we are able to offer the same level of help and appropriate support that we do with female victims.

“Men may worry that they won’t be believed, or that to ask for help is somehow a sign of weakness, but I’d like to say that it isn’t.

“It takes incredible courage and strength for anyone to speak up and take that first step.

“Today, as the world recognises the contribution of men, and we raise awareness of the issues that can affect men but often go unsaid, our message is that domestic abuse is serious.

“Please don’t suffer in silence; there is help and support available for all victims.”

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or you have concerns about a person’s behaviour towards you, or you fear for someone’s safety, please report this to the police.

Similarly, sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of age, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Men and boys who have been sexually assaulted or abused may have many of the same feelings and reactions as other survivors of sexual assault, but they may also face additional challenges because of social attitudes and stereotypes about men and masculinity.

National statistics estimate that four per cent of men have experienced some form of sexual assault since the age of 16.

Detective Inspector Michelle Lack, from the Force’s dedicated team investigating rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO), said:

“As with domestic abuse, we are able to offer care and guidance to anyone who has experienced rape or sexual assault, no matter when the offence happened.

“We have specially trained officers working closely alongside highly skilled, specialist partner agencies, such as the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), to ensure people can get the support they need right through the investigation process.

“You will be believed, and we will listen.”

You can report domestic abuse or sexual offences to police, or you can contact Bedfordshire’s SARC, the Emerald Centre, by visiting www.emeraldcentre.org, emailing admin.emeraldcentre@nhs.net or calling 01234 842750.

Call police in confidence on 101 and always call 999 in an emergency. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Visit the Bedfordshire Police website for advice and information about partner agencies who can also find the right help for you.

If you have been affected by a crime, Signpost offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred.

Contact 0800 0282 887 or visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.