Men are sometimes forced to stay in abusive relationships because their partner has threatened to make false allegations against them if they leave, according to Rhonda Lusty of the Men’s Advisory Project. Threats can include wrongfully accusing them of domestic violence or child abuse.
Threatening to make false allegations to stop a partner ending a relationship is a form of coercive control, a practice that has been made a criminal offence. Anyone can be falsely accused, but male victims of domestic abuse may face widespread disbelief due to the way society’s perceives a domestic abuser.
“We have definitely worked with men who have threats of: ‘I will go to your work and say that you are a sexual abuser’ or ‘I will tell the police that you’ve harmed me … I will tell the police that you’ve harmed our kids’,” Lusty was quoted as saying by the BBC.
“Those threats will keep a man in a relationship because not only does he love the person and want to remain in the family, there’s this fear that because he’s a man and because of how we view domestic abuse, that those threats will be believed without question.”
She was speaking after a high-profile murder trial in Northern Ireland in which a mother who killed her two-year-old son falsely claimed she was a victim of emotional abuse by the child’s father. In court it emerged she abused him, her ex-husband and children from her first marriage.
The Men’s Advisory Project helps male victims of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland.