The ManKind Initiative, alongside partners Hestia, who support adults in crisis, have created National Quality Service Standards for services supporting male victims/survivors of domestic abuse.
They are hosted and managed by the Male Domestic Abuse Network (MDAN), the national community and information network for practitioners supporting male victims. MDAN is run and owned by the ManKind Initiative. The Service Standards were developed and expertly produced by national safeguarding organisation LimeCulture CIC.
They are aimed at existing domestic abuse service providers, commissioners and any organisation/professional wanting to set up a service or learn more.
To register for a copy please visit: https://mdan.org.uk/service-standards/
They will Support Service Development through the creation of a framework to continue the development, commissioning and improvement of gender-informed services for male victims. This will support:
- male victims/survivors in being assured that their individual needs will be recognised and understood when accessing support from a service provider;
- existing services to review how they can further improve their services or support new services with information on how to develop them;
- commissioners in ensuring the services they commission are male victim-friendly;
- associated organisations (police forces, housing bodies, local councils and clinical commission groups, for example) to assess how they support male victims they come into contact with.
There are four main sections in the Standards covering:
- Leadership and Governance
- Access and Engagement
- Service Delivery
- Outcomes and Evaluation
There were produced with Professionals, Commissioners and Survivors – These Standards are based on the views of domestic abuse practitioners, commissioners and survivors.
Whilst independent, they are also aimed at forming a parallel set of Service Standards to those developed by the Male Survivors Partnership for boys and men affected by sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation. They therefore form an additional part of the overall quality and policy framework for supporting male victims of intimate violence crimes. These were also produced by LimeCulture and are in the same format.
They set an achievable national framework and benchmark for both commissioners and service providers. One that can be used to develop, improve
and deliver the best-quality service and response that recognises the gender-based needs of men. These Quality Standards are not separate to the core domestic abuse and/or safeguarding standards used in the sector, rather, they provide a framework to support a more tailored and inclusive approach.
We would like to dedicate these Quality Standards to all those male victims/survivors and service providers who took part in the research that underpins their creation. They are very much created for the sector and survivors, by the sector and survivors.
Mark Brooks OBE, Chair of the ManKind Initiative, said: “Over the past five years, there has been good progress in ensuring there are services in local communities for male victims of domestic abuse. However, far too many men are still not coming forward, there continues to be challenges around service funding and many men feel that due to gender stereotypes they are not getting the support they need. These Standards aim to accelerate progress in tackling these issues by helping to provide a route map and four core principles that service providers and commissioners can use.
“Importantly, these standards have been developed by taking into account the views of survivors, commissioners and service providers. This means they are very much created for the sector and survivors, by the sector and survivors. Direct quotes from them are featured throughout the standards.
“More broadly on issues of intimate violence against men and boys, it was important that there was alignment with other standards in the field. Hence why they were developed with the same organisation, LimeCulture, who developed standards for male victims of sexual violence and are in the same structure and format.”
Lyndsey Dearlove, Head of Domestic Abuse Prevention at Hestia, said:
“It is vital for any victim of domestic abuse to have access to specialist domestic abuse support. Through our partnership with the Mankind Initiative and Lime Culture, we have started an essential conversation with experts, survivors and commissioners to create national standards that will ensure male victims are listened to and believed.
“As lockdown and social distancing measures continue, we know there is an increased level of uncertainty for people looking to escape an abusive relationship. Our message to victims is clear, there is support available, and specialists will help you.”
Stephanie Reardon, Chief Executive LimeCulture Community Interest Company, said: “We are delighted to have been involved in the development of these Quality Standards for services supporting male victims of domestic abuse. In recent years, LimeCulture has been involved in the development and implementation of a number of similar standards which have had a key role in driving improvements in the quality of support provision.
“The wide engagement of male victims/survivors of domestic abuse, as well as frontline professionals and support services, have been central to the development of these Quality Standards. Their views, experiences and suggestions have enabled us to set the benchmark for support that meets the needs of male victims and survivors”.
Dr Elizabeth Bates, Principal Lecturer in Psychology and Psychological Therapies (University of Cumbria), said: “These standards are a really significant step forward in the journey to ensuring gender-inclusive service provision for all victims of domestic violence and abuse. My research working with male victims of domestic violence has revealed a number of barriers to accessing services and support; the creation of these standards, and the experience that has informed them, means we should be able to address and remove some of these barriers. There is a real appetite from service providers in the sector to be able to support men and this as a resource is going to enable that to happen more widely.”
Paul Chivers, survivor of domestic abuse, said: “When I was going through an abusive relationship, the local service was not able to provide me with a service that recognised me or provided the support I needed because I was a man. I know thankfully things are changing and improving but more needs to be done to help men going through what I did. I am confident these Services Standards will play an important role in making that change happen.”
Annex 1: Quotes from the Standards
Section 1: Leadership and Governance
“I think the biggest issue out there is that domestic abuse is always perceived as being something that only affects women. It is therefore really important that services recognise the differences in approach when they provide support to males.” Survey Respondent
“It is so important that staff are properly trained to support male survivors. It requires different knowledge, a different way of working to support males effectively.” Service Provider
“It’s an important principle that local services can meet the needs of our local communities. We want our commissioned services to be available and accessible for the range of people who live there – survivors from the different backgrounds, cultures and religions that we have in our area.” Commissioner
Section 2: Access and Engagement
“I was able to access some support from the service but not everything they do was available to me, apparently because I am a man. It seems rather odd that I could have some bits [of support] but not others.” Survey Respondent
I didn’t feel physically unsafe, but definitely like a ‘fish out of water’ –- every poster, every leaflet, was female = victim, male = perpetrator, with the exception of a single line on their website ‘we also offer assistance to male victims of abuse’.” Survey Respondent
“I’ve since learned that there might have been help when I needed it but I didn’t know about it then. There was nothing to show that they would have supported me.” Survey Respondent
Section 3: Service Delivery
“I found it difficult to flee from DA and came across too many barriers to access services due to the lack of help for male victims in my local area. There was also not enough refuges for males in this area.” Survey Respondent
“It was really helpful having a male worker, I felt like I was being heard and had a feeling of being in charge of my support.” Survey Respondent
At present the majority of support available is provided by female workers to male victims via outreach and resettlement. This is purely because those same workers also work with female victims. If funding was provided to create a post/service allowing a male worker to provide support for victims at all levels of risk (IDVA) this would help meet the needs of male victims/survivors better.” Service Provider
“It’s important that ensure that the services we refer our male clients on to are not going to be dismissive when a male presents as a victim. This could be devastating for the male.” Service Provider
“In male same sex relationships, agencies seem to find it challenging to ascertain which person is the actual perpetrator.” Survey Respondent
Section 4: Outcomes and Evaluation
“I was invited to a conference to share my experience, and the organisation have continued to ask me to be involved in the building of their men’s service.” Survey Respondent
It isn’t a one-size-fits-all, we are continuing to develop our services for men, and a lot of that is through trial and error but we have a steering group of men who have previously accessed support which helps.” Service Provider
“We need to ensure that we capture information about whether the service is effective in supporting males. It’s not just about the numbers going through the service, but that we are actually making a positive difference to these men.” Service Provider
“We require data from our commissioned services about the number of men they’re working with. As part of the tender we required them to give a development plan of how they will grow the services.” Commissioner