Bedfordshire Police is encouraging male victims of domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation to speak out and seek help today, on International Men's Day.
Domestic abuse can affect anyone of any age, gender, sexuality, social background or profession. Offences range from actual violence through to mental abuse, such as constant bullying and coercive and controlling behaviour.
Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Dadd, head of the force’s Emerald team which investigates domestic crime, said: “It is difficult for any victim to say they need help, and to know where to go once they’ve decided to talk to someone.
"This can be especially hard for male victims of domestic abuse and they may worry that they won’t be believed.
“We understand that men can be victims, just as women are, and we are able to offer help and appropriate support.
"We especially would like to highlight this on the day where we celebrate the positive value men bring to the world, to their families and communities, with a message that domestic abuse is serious, and you don’t need to suffer in silence; there is help available for all victims.”
Boys and young men can also be the victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE); in which children are sexually manipulated for money, power or status.
It sees children and young people under 18 involved in abusive situations, contexts, or inappropriate relationships, where the young person receives ‘something’, such as accommodation, drugs, alcohol, gifts, or even affection, as a result of them performing, or being involved in, sexual activities.
National statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that reports of sexual assault from men and boys, aged 13 years old and over, increased by 57 per cent between 2015 and 2018.
However, there are many more suffering this abuse who are afraid to get help, or may not realise that they are being exploited and are in danger.
Detective Inspector Elaine Cook, from the force's unit which investigates child sexual exploitation, said: “Children and young people at risk of CSE are not exclusive to one gender; it happens to boys too. Any child can be exploited.
"Protecting vulnerable children is everyone’s business, and we all need to be alert, to know what to look out for and where to go for advice, as well as having the confidence to report any acts of abuse, safe in the knowledge that they will be acted on.
“We work hard to raise awareness and provide children and young people with the confidence to be able to report their concerns, as well as letting them know that there is support available.”
If you are a victim of domestic abuse or sexual exploitation, if you have concerns about a person’s behaviour towards you, or you fear for someone’s safety, call Bedfordshire Police on 101.