Thursday, 4 February 2010
A Welsh women's aid branch is changing its name to reflect the fact it is helping an increasing number of men.
De Gwynedd Women's Aid is changing its name to De Gwynedd Domestic Abuse Service from April.
The service said there was a need for the change as no-one, irrespective of gender, should have to suffer domestic abuse.
Welsh Women's Aid said all Women's Aid groups were autonomous and they respected their right to change.
"We've noticed that more men are coming to us for help, and we decided that we would open the service out to anyone who is suffering domestic violence," said Elwen Roberts from the De (south) Gwynedd group, which takes referrals from men from all over Gwynedd.
Ms Roberts said 33 men between April and December contacted the service - as part of an independent domestic violence advisor scheme - compared with 312 women.
" I don't think anyone has done any research into this, especially here in rural Wales "
Elwen Roberts, De Gwynedd Domestic Abuse Service
All of them were referrals from the police - which means they were cases where there had been at least three domestic abuse incidents in the household.
"We feel this is a high enough figure to justify the change, there is a need for a service for them," she said.
The service offered for men will be tailored for them, and staff will need to be trained to deal with it.
Screening will also be carried out to make sure the sufferer is genuine.
Although abuse suffered by men can be both physical and emotional, there was a tendency for more emotional abuse, she added.
"When we began women's aid in the 70s very few women initially came forward, and it will be interesting to see over the years how big this problem is," Ms Roberts said.
"I don't think anyone has done any research into this, especially here in rural Wales."
Ms Roberts also denied the change would mean the service was turning its back on its roots.
"I don't see it like that at all as, at the end of the day, any domestic abuse is unacceptable," she said.
Paula Hardy, chief executive officer of Welsh Women's Aid (WWA) said it was "disappointing" to lose De Gwynedd Women's Aid as a member group after many years of working together as part of the Women's Aid movement in Wales.
"However, all Women's Aid groups are autonomous organisations, and WWA recognise their right to move away from the feminist ethos of the movement, and make the decision to open their services up to men," she added.
According to Home Office figures, it is estimated domestic abuse will affect one in four women and one in six men in their lifetime.