A MALE domestic abuse survivor has spoken out about his trauma to highlight the fact that men can be trapped in abusive relationships.

Sean (not his real name) used to be isolated from his family, humiliated in front of his friends and prevented from spending his own money and sitting on furniture by his controlling ex-wife.

He now works in Swindon to help prevent domestic abuse after taking years to realise that he was in a psychologically and emotionally damaging marriage.

He said: “It’s hard to recognise abuse when you’re in a relationship, no matter who you are, and it’s easier to deny it. But when you do recognise it and accept it for what it is, there is support out there.

"Having your thoughts and feelings ratified when your confidence is shattered makes such a difference. It’s transformative.

“There was never any physical abuse. We very rarely even argued. It was what was said and done that amounted to emotional and mental abuse, and to a lesser extent, financial abuse.

"She isolated me from my family, many of whom lived abroad, and she would always stop me spending money on going to visit them.

“It was quite late on in the relationship that I recognised it as systematic, or as abuse. There were things that weren’t good but I looked at them in isolation."

At first, Sean didn't see the signs of being in an abusive relationship, which included thinking he was to blame for the way his partner treated him, his partner controlling his behaviour, feeling embarrassed when his friends and family sees how his partner treated him, and becoming withdrawn.

Sean added: "The turning point was when I got a new job and my new colleagues would ask about my evening or weekend, and I would describe what had happened with no real thought that anything was wrong.

"For example she had bought a new chair but wouldn’t ever let me sit in it because she bought it.

"There was another time where I had some friends round for my 30th birthday but she wanted me to cook her a dinner, so I spent the whole evening cooking for her while they all had a party elsewhere in the house, so I missed my own birthday.

“When I put all the incidents together, it was overwhelming. She later had an affair and when I confronted her about it, she left but came back and we tried again.

"When we were with friends she would speak openly about the affair in front of me, joking about it and mocking my reaction to it.

"When I told her how small, weak and miserable it made me feel, nothing changed. She just carried on, and only really stopped because no one else was laughing.

"It shattered my self-confidence and I didn’t feel strong enough to stand up to anything. From then on, the verbal belittling and humiliation happened more frequently until it seemed relentless.”

Domestic abuse isn’t just about violent or threatening behaviour – it can be psychological or emotional, sexual or financial, controlling and coercive.

Some abusive partners are violent towards their victims, force them to have sex, make them feel inferior or worthless or afraid, and constantly message and monitor their victims.

Call 101 to report concerns about an abusive relationship - if someone is in immediate danger, call 999.

Help is available for victims, who can be of any gender, religion, race or sexuality. It can happen in short and long term relationships and partners, ex-partners and family members can all be involved.

Sean added: “When I talk to people about it now, all I get is support. No one questions the ‘big man being bullied by smaller woman’ part of this like people used to."

"There is support out there, whether it is from professionals or family and friends, or in my case, work colleagues. "

Support services available for male victims of domestic abuse:

Men’s Advice Line http://www.mensadviceline.org.uk/

ManKind https://www.mankind.org.uk/

National Centre for Domestic Violence https://www.ncdv.org.uk/

The Phoenix Project, Splitz Support Service http://www.survivorpathway.org.uk/services/the-phoenix-project-wiltshire/