December 28, 2017 Advocacy, BFL News, Breaking Barriers in DV, Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Shelter Tags: 10 Comments

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Sara Eldridge, LMSW, a Senior Social Worker at Barrier Free Living’s Freedom House domestic violence shelter offers her insights on Freedom House’s work with male domestic violence survivors. Sara is a licensed social worker who received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in 2015.  Sara has been a social worker at Freedom House since 2015, where she provides individual and group counseling to adults, children and adolescents. Prior to Freedom House she worked with youth in alternatives to detention and incarceration programs, student veterans and crime victims.

One in seven men has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the CDC, but unfortunately stigma, misconceptions about domestic violence, and a lack of resources can make it difficult for male survivors to receive help.

Barrier Free Living’s Freedom House domestic violence (DV) shelter does not discriminate in providing services to all survivors of violence regardless of gender or sexual orientation. In fact, we are unique in offering male-specific services such as men’s DV groups and male social workers. Freedom House has historically sheltered between one and six male survivors.

Barrier Free Living provides counseling, case management, shelter and housing to people with disabilities, including survivors of domestic violence and homeless individuals. Freedom House is our emergency domestic violence shelter for individuals and families who are seeking temporary safety. Residents can stay at Freedom House for 90-180 days. Freedom House offers a number of accommodations for people with disabilities, including wide hallways and doors for wheelchair users, handrails on the wall for people who are blind or low vision, grab bars in the shower, doorbell modifications for people who are deaf/hard of hearing, and a videophone for people who communicate via sign language.

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This month, two Freedom House team members, Program Director Myra Ricard and Social Worker Larry Wilson, presented on the topic of “Serving Male Domestic Violence Survivors in Shelter” at the National Center for Victims of Crime 2017 National Training Institute in Portland, Oregon. (View the PDF of presentation)

They discussed the many similarities men and women face in the types of abuse they experience, the barriers to accessing help, and the impacts, as well as some of the unique challenges faced by male domestic violence survivors. They also advocated for better training for police and other service providers regarding male domestic violence victims and gender-inclusive outreach materials.

Although male survivors may be victimized by their same-sex partners, they can also be abused by female partners, parents, children, roommates, or caregivers. This abuse can take the same forms as that directed against women, including physical, sexual, financial, verbal and emotional abuse.

Men with disabilities may be uniquely victimized by being denied access to healthcare, medication, or assistive equipment by their abuser. For example, an abuser may refuse to take a person with a disability to the doctor, throw away his medicine, or break his wheelchair.

Queer and transgender men may fear being outed without their consent by their abusers or when they seek services. Many men are ashamed to disclose their abuse history because of mistaken assumptions that men cannot be abused or that they should have done more to protect themselves.

Abusers may try to use the system against male victims by taking out false orders of protection or preventing them from seeing their children.

Service providers may refuse to work with men because of assumptions that male survivors are really the abusers. For example, men report being arrested by the police in domestic violence situations even when their female partner was the aggressor.

At Freedom House, to accommodate the unique needs of male survivors we:

  • Have male social workers on our team who can be assigned to provide counseling for male survivors.
  • Provide male domestic violence support groups

Female residents of Freedom House have been warm and understanding towards the male survivors by welcoming them in domestic violence support groups and celebrating holidays together. The recognition that anyone can be a victim of violence only deepens everyone’s empathy and journey towards healing. Freedom House and Barrier Free Living are proud of our commitment to serving male survivors as we work towards a future without violence.

Visit the National Center for Domestic Violence for more information.

10 Comments

  1. Ernesto Mujica, Ph.D. 2 years Reply

    Hello, thank you for the work you are doing. I am interested in learning if you know of any support group therapy programs for male survivors of domestic abuse here in NYC.

    By the way, I am on the Facilitator Team for MenHealing.org, an organization that provides weekend retreats for male survivors of sexual abuse and assault. Some partial scholarships are available.

    Best regards;

    Ernesto Mujica, Ph.D.

    20 West 86th Street
    New York, NY 10024
    Tel: 212-721-0369

    • Barrier Free Living 2 years Reply

      Thanks for reaching out. Yes we do. I am going to forward your info to our team.

  2. Alisha 6 months Reply

    I am looking for resources for my nephew who is a domestic violence survivor; although he doesn’t see it that way. He is in a very bad situation; and the female involved has now turned tables and gotten him arrested; he can’t be in his own apartment, now has no access to car they share etc…it’s just bad and they work at same job. I’m scared for him and I live on West Coast now….limited in how I can help him. He is depressed, stressed, and I m worried more than I can say. Any information you can give would be great. He is homeless now; sleeping here and there and that’s no way to live. He needs counseling’ males he can talk to about this and direction as to his legal rights.

    • Barrier Free Living 5 months Reply

      We will reach out

  3. Brandon 5 months Reply

    Hi. I’m a 45 y/o male that is trying to get out & away from being verbally & physically abused. I need help.

    • Barrier Free Living 5 months Reply

      Please call 212 533 4358

  4. John 4 months Reply

    Im 22 I live with my parent and sibling because I can’t afford to live on my own anymore but the constant verbal abuse of blaming me of taking shit, blaming me of being a felon and doing dumb shit, always bringing me down, they don’t want me to stay there no more but I don’t got nowhere to go. Can you guys help with a place or any shelters?

    • Barrier Free Living 4 months Reply

      Please call 212 533 4358
      we also have an online chat feature

  5. Anonymous 3 months Reply

    In need of help. Partner called the police on me and had me arrested. Only allows me to stay in the house if I give up my pay check. Can only take my children out on set terms. Not allowed to do anything in the house unless given permission. I no longer wish to live this way. Only options left is take abuse or die.

    • Barrier Free Living 3 months Reply

      Our team has been alerted.

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