We believe that every victim of domestic abuse should have access to the support they need to recover and rebuild their lives. Ahead of International Men’s Day 2023, we spoke to our Head of Helplines, Tanisha Jnagel, about how we’re making the Men’s Advice Line accessible to more people than ever before.
We are pursuing true inclusion on the Men’s Advice Line, not only in terms of responding to difference, but also by ensuring our team understands the role power, privilege and intersectionality play in the dynamics of domestic abuse. We’ve been working with a range of partners to ensure we’re equipped, both in terms of our training and our technology, to help anyone who calls the Men’s Advice Line.
Intersectionality (coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw) is key to our approach on the helpline. We know that callers to the Men’s Advice Line often hold multiple social identities simultaneously. Maybe they are part of a marginalised community, maybe they are impacted by poverty maybe they are part of the LGBT+ community, maybe they are neurodivergent. These intersecting identities can lead to overlapping and compounding systems of disadvantage, which shape how someone responds, and is responded to, when it comes to their experiences of domestic abuse.
There are lots of ways our team works to understand and account for these disadvantages, including our bi-monthly Reflective Practice meetings, where live issues of concerns from callers are discussed to refine our approach and messaging. Alongside that, we work proactively with partners to make our service inclusive for people from a range of different backgrounds and communities.
Supporting callers from minoritised communities
We want male victims from minoritised communities to know they will receive culturally competent support from a team that is representative of the people they support. An essential part of this is ensuring we have a diverse group of people available to support callers to our helpline. Our Helplines Advisors come from a range of different backgrounds and communities, bringing their own knowledge, experiences and perspectives to their work supporting male victims. More formally, our helplines team has also undertaken anti-racism training, which focused on raising awareness of power and privilege.
Supporting victims with language barriers
"I was promptly answered with great respect and security, I needed an interpreter in my language and the agent provided it immediately. It's people like this agent who assisted me today and services like this - done out of respect - save and help save lives. My congratulations and your help saved another life today” – A caller to the Men’s Advice Line
We know language barriers can be a real obstacle for victims when they’re seeking support. They might not speak English, they may prefer to seek help in their own language, or they may be anxious that their spoken English won’t be understood by the advisor. To ensure callers are empowered to get in touch in a way that works for them, we offer an interpretation service via Clear Voice, who we have worked with to ensure their interpreters feel confident responding to anyone experiencing domestic abuse.
Supporting physically disabled victims
We know that disabled people experience disproportionately higher rates of domestic abuse. They also experience abuse for longer periods of time, and more severe and frequent abuse than non-disabled people (Public Health England). It’s therefore vital that we address any barriers disabled victims may experience when seeking support.
For those unable to hear or speak, our helpline service is compatible with Relay UK, an app supporting anyone who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, and speech-impaired. It’s downloadable from the App Store, Google Play or the Microsoft Store onto your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The team have has received training from Sign Health to ensure they understand the challenges faced by deaf people, and can give them the support they need.
For blind and partially sighted callers, we are working in partnership with Refuge to deliver a project funded by the Vision Foundation, which will help improve our response to these callers when they contact the Men’s Advice Line.
Supporting neurodivergent victims
For a variety of reasons, neurodivergent people experience domestic abuse at a higher rate than neurotypical people. The helplines team have received training on neurodiversity to help them respond helpfully and appropriately to neurodivergent service users in a way that focuses on their individual needs.
Supporting victims with immigration issues
“I’m not from this country. I came here on a marriage visa. I’ve been suffering from my partner attacking me. Her family tried to kill me” – A caller to the Men’s Advice Line
Sometimes abusers use a person’s insecure immigration status to try and control them. Their partner might tell them they have no rights, and that no-one will help them. We support callers facing this issue to understand their rights, and the options available to them, and we have established a referral pathway with Victim Support’s Ashraya Project, which supports male victims in London who are affected by immigration control (as well as male victims facing homelessness).
Supporting victims in financial need
"Some men have said they don’t dare leave and get a place to stay because they would still have to pay their share of the household bills where the children are and can only see costs going up and up" - Helplines Advisor on the Men’s Advice Line
We know from our callers that the cost of living crisis is having a detrimental effect on them, especially impacting their ability to leave their relationship safely.
To address this issue, we have a partnership with Women’s Aid, where we can arrange free rail or coach tickets to help male victims escape abuse. This service can be accessed by contacting the Men’s Advice Line.
If you’re a man experiencing domestic abuse, or you’re concerned that someone you love or support could be a victim, we’re here to help. Contact the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 8010327, email on [email protected], or head to our website where further information is available, as well as our live webchat service, available Wed: 10-11.30am & Thurs 2-4pm.