Title

Male victims of intimate partner abuse: Experiences of disclosure and help-seeking

Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Professor Alfred Allan

Second Advisor

Dr Greg Dear

Third Advisor

Dr Rick Allan

Abstract

Intimate partner abuse is a significant social problem that impacts on the mental health of primary and secondary victims. Despite empirical evidence that there are male victims and female offenders of intimate partner abuse, Australian researchers focus almost exclusively on the needs of female victims and male offenders. The overall aim of this study was to explore the experiences of male victims of intimate partner abuse with reference to the nature of the abuse they report, its impact on them, their support needs and help-seeking behaviour.

During Stage One qualitative data were collected from 15 male victims of intimate partner abuse, seven significant others (close family and friends) of male victims, and eight service providers who have experience working with male victims. These data were collected and analysed using a phenomenological approach. The interview data revealed that both male victims and significant others experience negative impacts from intimate partner abuse and yet victims reported many barriers to seeking help and disclosing their abuse experiences , and, those wanting help, reported a lack of appropriate services.

A second study was undertaken to examine these findings and during Stage Two, 198 service providers completed a questionnaire, containing both quantitative and qualitative questions, based on the findings of Stage One. The data collected supported and extended the findings of Stage One, in particular the concern that there is a lack of services available to victims.

During Stage Three this concern was further explored by examining the internet and telephone services available to victims of intimate abuse in Australia. Quantitative data were collected to ascertain the quantity and nature of the current intimate partner abuse services on offer in Australia and the advertised willingness and readiness of these services to provide services to male victims. The findings highlighted that there are fewer services and types of service available to male victims in Australia than are available to female victims and that those available, to male victims, may not be useful.

This research highlights male victims’ need, yet reluctance, to seek help for the impact of intimate partner abuse. The findings also indicate that men’s needs could be better met if there were more services available to male victims and a more empathetic recognition of their abuse experience

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