Male domestic violence victims rise
By Kylie Walker

ABOUT one-third of domestic violence victims treated in Australian hospitals are men, of all ages and from across the socio-economic spectrum, a new study has found.

Many victims also had been abused as children, said Dr Peter Stuart, the study's author and director of emergency medicine at Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide. Of 1,326 people who presented at two Adelaide emergency departments over the 80 shifts studied, 8.7 per cent described themselves as victims of domestic violence.

The majority of victims were women aged between 17 and 35 years who had been to hospital at least once before to be treated for injuries sustained in an assault and who were likely to have been abused as children.

"But ... domestic physical assault is not isolated to this group of patients but is also relatively common in men and all age, employment and cultural groups," Dr Stuart said.

"This finding confirms the ubiquitous nature of domestic violence and highlights the difficulty in establishing a risk factor profile based on personal characteristics that would enable the selective screening of patients for domestic violence."

People with part time jobs or stay-at-home parents were more likely to be abused than those in full time employment or the unemployed, Dr Stuart reported in the latest issue of the medical journal Emergency Medicine Australasia.

Almost 30 per cent of the domestic violence victims were men, Dr Stuart said.

Elderly patients for the most part refused to participate in the study, and Dr Stuart excluded those who had serious injuries, attended the emergency department between midnight and 8am, or whose partner refused to leave the room.

"As many of these patients are at significantly greater risk for domestic physical assault, the study is likely to underestimate the prevalence for recent assault," he said.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone but is much more likely to happen to women, said Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre (DVIRC) training coordinator Margot Scott.

Women were also more likely to suffer more serious injuries, she added.

"In the end the important thing is that if people are experiencing violence in the home they should be supported and it doesn't matter if they're women or men," Ms Scott said.

"It's really important for people to talk to someone, try to get some help from someone and to understand that it's not their fault, that they're not to blame for another person being violent towards them."

Domestic violence support services exist in every state. Nationally, victims can call Lifeline on 131 114, or Kids Help Line on 1800 551 800.

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