A representative of a Carrick-based domestic violence charity has spoken of plans to launch the Province’s first shelter for male victims.
Catherine Harper is the Honourable Secretary of the Citrah Foundation, which provides support, information, counselling, advice and temporary accomodation to families suffering the effects of domestic abuse.
The charity is in discussions with the Department for Social Development (DSD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) over plans to provide a shelter in the East Antrim area for men seeking to escape abusive relationships.
“What we have is a whole section of the community which is not being provided with the same service as the rest,” Catherine told the Times.
“At our drop-in centre we have had males come to us for help and at the minute we can’t give them a safe place to breathe, to settle and to rebuild their lives.
“The DSD provides temporary shelter for males fleeing domestic abuse with the Simon Community, but they can’t take their children.
“There is also the private rented sector but if they are paying off a mortgage as well that will be too expensive.”
According to a PSNI report, the number of reported cases of domestic abuse against men over 18 in Carrickfergus rose from 28 in 2004/5 to 45 in 2014/15.
In Newtownabbey, cases rose from 90 to 124 over the same period, while in Larne cases more than doubled from 21 in 2004/5 to 48 in 2014/15.
“We have seen the incidence of males asking for help rise,” Catherine continued.
“For years men had to deal with stigma and a perceived loss of face.
“Domestic violence is not always violent, it can be verbal, emotional, financial or sexual.
“It affects men in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.
“When someone is in an abusive relationship it is hard for them to make decisions and they need to have someone to support them
“At this stage we don’t know how many men the proposed shelter would accomodate, but we currently provide five apartments for women with families and we want something similar for males.”
To contact Citrah’s 24-hour helpline, telephone 028 9335 1199.
To access more information or to send a message to the group, visit www.cithrah.org.