Domestic Abuse Bill

Written evidence submitted by Tim Tierney (DAB56)

I wish to express my support for the amendments proposed by Philip Davies MP and Bob Stewart MP.

1 I am not formally attached to any organisation, but I campaign for improvements in the recognition and support of victims, particularly minority victims such as men. I am a survivor-speaker at national domestic abuse conferences, I contribute to research and I appear on radio and TV discussing the topic.  In 2018, out of approximately 1100 people attending the Domestic Abuse Bill Consultation Meetings, I was one of little more than a handful of male survivors who were given the opportunity to speak at the sole meeting for men.

2 In May 2020 I was invited to be the male domestic abuse survivor guest on a Domestic Abuse Surgery run by Cumbria Constabulary.    I contributed to two additional police domestic abuse surgeries and ManKind Initiative contributed to two. It resulted in a significant increase in the number of male victims seeking help.  In that same month, for the first time Cumbria Constabulary published the experience of a male survivor on its website. I had campaigned for this for several years.  I understand the surgeries were a first.  They were one of three police domestic abuse initiatives discussed at 10 Downing Street immediately prior to the 'Hidden Harms' conference hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The encouraging changes I have outlined indicate an improvement in the attitude of police to male victims, when compared with my experiences several years ago.

3 I would like to provide a context to the reason why I wish to support the amendments proposed by Philip Davies MP and Bob Stewart MP.  Male victims of domestic abuse must be equally recognised in The Domestic Abuse Bill.  According to the ONS, 786,000 men experienced domestic abuse in just one year.  Men are one third of the victims and ONS figures recognise that far more men (49%) than women (19%) do not disclose domestic abuse to anyone. Regardless of sex, gender, race or religion, a victim is a victim & must have equal protection under the law.  

4 My experience of domestic abuse and of the police makes it very clear why the Domestic Abuse Bill must not be gendered. I am a survivor of female perpetrated intimate partner violence by a healthcare professional. She was held in very high regard in the community.  People thought she could not possibly be a domestic abuser, but she determined what family members and friends I could remain in contact with, in order to isolate me so she could exercise domestic abuse.

5 After over four years as a domestic abuse victim I 'escaped' to meet the close friend my wife was most opposed to me having any contact with.  My friend reminded me she had worked for Womens Aid.  Then she helped me understand that although a man, I was a domestic abuse victim. She advised me to go to the police and ManKind Initiative. Later that day, while driving home, I was arrested on a domestic abuse related charge.  I immediately asserted that I was a victim at the hands of my wife.  I told them a specialist had advised me and asked for an officer from the domestic abuse/public protection unit.  Three times my request was refused.  I was questioned and I co-operated fully, convinced police would want to investigate and to read the many records I had kept 'in the cloud' that were therefore date auditable.  Whilst locked behind a closed door with my abuser trying to get in, I frequently wrote down what had just happened.  Police did their best to try to take me to court but refused to view any of my evidence which demonstrated she was the abuser. They told my wife and her parents I was drunk. One police officer ridiculed me and stated "some people are psychologically damaged, but you're not".  

6 I became utterly terrified of police officers.  I had nightmares about police digging up a body and my being framed for murder. I couldn't drive home at night, instead I parked a distance away and entered the house from the back, leaving the lights off if I could. I was constantly on alert for police following me, yet previously I had regarded some police officers as good friends. My formal complaint, which I was very fearful to submit, was dismissed as a 'dissatisfaction report' still without police ever seeing my evidence. 

7 It has taken many sessions of therapy for me to recover not so much from the domestic abuse itself, but the incredibly traumatising effects of police behaviour.  Police ignored my own allegations yet pursued those against me to the greatest extent possible. Many were easily proved to be completely fabricated, by means of financial records. The result was that police completely failed to identify the perpetrator and instead targeted the victim.  In my view, police found it impossible to contemplate that such a respectable woman held in high standing in the community could be an abuser.

8 That is why I support the amendments submitted by Philip Davies MP and Bob Stewart MP.

9 Summary

If it were gendered, the treatment I have encountered, as an abused man, by police and others, will not continue to improve. It may even decline. I am aware that police attitudes that I encountered do continue to this day.  I think of one man I know who this year, immediately before giving video evidence against his former female partner for alleged sexual assault and domestic abuse related offences, was told by a trained police officer seeking to discourage him from doing so "it's completely different for women". 

The Domestic Abuse Bill must not be gendered, it must provide protection to every victim of domestic abuse, regardless of who they are. If it were gendered, the 49% of men who disclose domestic abuse to no-one and who are greater in number than the 19% of women who do not disclose, will continue to suffer in silence. A gendered bill will perpetuate the stigma suffered by male victims and will discourage them from seeking help.

I should be glad to appear in person as a domestic abuse survivor and campaigner if that would be beneficial to the committee.

Tim Tierney

4 June 2020


Prepared 11th June 2020