09:21AM, Sunday 28 October 2012
A male-only refuge has opened its doors to help the rising number of men being abused by their wives or partners.
The Berkshire East and South Bucks Women's Aid launched the facility last week, at a secret address in East Berkshire. It is the first for men in the area.
Slough-based Alan Gibson, domestic abuse advocate for the charity, said there was a growing need for the facility while awareness that men can also be abuse victims is still low.
"It is a hidden problem as men find it difficult to say they are suffering domestic abuse from a woman," he said.
"It is a big problem and reporting of male domestic abuse is probably about 30 years behind women.
"Men see it is a shame to disclose they are being attacked by a female.
"Abuse can be psychological and emotional as well as physical."
The refuge is for males fleeing domestic abuse from their wives or partners and can hold three single males at a time or fathers with up to three children.
Mr Gibson said the Women's Aid has converted an existing building it owns after seeing a growing need for a male-only refuge.
The facility is one of only eight for heterosexual men in the UK compared to nearly 400 for heterosexual women.
Mr Gibson said across the UK one in four women suffer from domestic abuse and one in six men, but many people in society still think men do not suffer it.
He said more male-only refuges are needed as only 25 rooms are available across the UK for heterosexual men.
"In the gay, lesbian and trans-gender community there are a lot more facilities as there are refuges that will accept them, but not heterosexual men," he said.
Mr Gibson said last year in the Thames Valley, police had 5,800 domestic abuse cases reported by men, compared to 37,000 for women.
He added: "I have clients all over the UK, from all walks of life and it is not a class thing.
"Anyone from any background can experience it."
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