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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 02:29 GMT
'She slashed my face with a knife'
Anthony* spent 16 years in a turbulent and often violent marriage. Despite being subject to regular and viscious attacks, many of which left him hospitalised, he found it difficult to find any support. He is now campaigning for more help to be available to men in abusive relationships.

I was married to Jan* for 16 years. Whilst we were married she had 11 affairs.

When I discovered these affairs she would get drunk, out of hand and start attacking me.

I have had to defend my face being slashed with a knife and I have deep slash marks on both arms.

I've had boiling water poured over my groin. I've had an 18-inch stainless steel meat skewer stuffed right through my left arm.

The attitude of the police was that it was always the man's fault

Anthony

These are the sort of things I've had to put up with. As well as the humiliation of her bringing boyfriends home.

I was beaten unconscious in a car by her at my eldest son's wedding reception, that was in front of 50 guests including my daughter, who was in the back of the car and my son who was trying to pull her off. When finally arrested three weeks later all she got was a caution.

I found it very difficult to find any support during this time. The attitude of the police was that it was always the man's fault.

Nowhere to turn

If I had inflicted on her the same injuries as she inflicted on me at my son's wedding reception I would have been arrested immediately, put in a cell, put before the magistrate in the morning and sentenced.

There were 51 ring marks on my left side of my face alone. My nose was broken, I had a black eye and I needed extensive dental treatment to rebuild the front of my face, round my jaw where my teeth were smashed.

Silent minority
Of the 635,000 incidences of domestic violence in England in Wales, 19% of victims were men.
(2001/2 British Crime Survey)

On one occasion when she battered me and left me on the floor bleeding, she called the police and told them I had attacked her.

They stepped over me on the floor and spoke to her and when I got to my feet they were going to arrest me if I didn't leave the house.

On one occasion she accused me of raping and beating her. I was arrested and taken down to the police station for all the tests.

They of course proved negative because I hadn't been anywhere near her, so she was forced to drop the case and I was released and apologised to.

Violent childhood

I kept this totally behind closed doors. Very often I'd been to work with a cut arm and given the excuse 'Oh I was doing some DIY and the window broke and smashed my arm', or 'Oh I fell over and landed on a spike'. I went to hospital six times.

I came from a family of nine children.

It got to the point where I could stand no more

Anthony
If we were naughty my father would make us stand in front of him and he would beat us around the head. If we ducked we got another one, if we cried we got another one. I always swore I would never ever be like my father.

When I started telling people about it they said 'I would have smacked her mate, look at the size of you, you could have floored her' but I just couldn't do that. Men have these stupid macho attitudes and they cannot accept the fact that I wouldn't fight back.

I have attempted suicide three times to try and end it all and I ended up in a psychiatric ward. I wouldn't want anyone else alive to go through what I went through. I tried very hard to keep the children away from it.

But it wasn't easy. My two little young daughters have pulled her off me whilst she was beating me around the head with a child's cricket bat.

I loved her and I stayed with her for 16 years. But it got to the point where I could stand no more.

Future hopes

I phoned, and phoned, and phoned... the Samaritans, helplines, refuges, but was told I'm sorry we don't have anything for a man'. I eventually found a crisis centre in Hastings and a very sympathetic lady who put me in touch with a group called Mankind.

I'm now the domestic abuse regional coordinator for them. I have all sorts of people phone me up, I sit and listen and talk, I paid for my own counselling course and enjoy helping others.

I still suffer from severe stress and she still goads me when I go to see the children but I've remarried and for the first time in a long while am positive about the future.

It makes me slightly annoyed when I think of all the thousands of pounds that are put into support systems for women, safe houses, phone lines and where is the support for men?

Domestic violence is a crime. It doesn't matter who it happens to.

*The names have been changed


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