Man subjected to abuse by girlfriend calls for more support for male victims
A MAN whose girlfriend was jailed for subjecting him to more than a year of physical and mental abuse is demanding more support for male victims.
Ian McNicholl's life was made hell by Michelle Williamson during the 17-month ordeal which saw her burn him with an iron, spray bleach in his eyes, put lit cigarettes up his nose, pour boiling water over him and smash his arm with a hammer.
Figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the Hull Domestic Abuse Partnership has an annual budget of £329,000.
But with 1,252 men reporting domestic violence last year, just £11,000 is available to help male victims.
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By contrast, £126,100 is set aside to help male perpetrators on the city's Strength To Change programme. Of the 498 men who referred themselves from 2009 to 2011, just 29 had completed the programme by January this year.
Mr McNicholl, 50, who is still awaiting surgery for his injuries, claims men who have suffered domestic abuse are being ignored and treated "like second-class citizens".
He said: "If you measure the success of Strength To Change by the number of people who completed the course, in excess of £11,000 is being spent on each perpetrator.
"We only have £11,000 to spread over more than 1,000 male victims in Hull, which is less than £9 per person.
"This should be the source of professional embarrassment for anyone who works in the arena of domestic abuse services in Hull.
"I think there should be a public inquiry.
"If you are spending that much money, wouldn't you want to see more of a success rate?
"It's an absolute disgrace."
Of all the literature available to victims of domestic abuse in Hull, just one out of about 40 leaflets and posters was directly aimed at male victims.
The figures show 172 male perpetrators of domestic abuse failed to attend their first Strength To Change appointment following their call to the helpline between 2009 and 2011.
This includes men who forgot about their appointment, did not believe they had a problem, decided not to seek help or were incorrectly signposted to the service.
Meanwhile, 67 men attended the initial assessment during the same time but did not return to complete the course.
According to the Freedom of Information response, the Strength To Change programme has four members of staff, while the male victims worker at the Hull Domestic Abuse Partnership works 20 hours a week.
Mr McNicholl, who lived in Grimsby at the time of his ordeal but now lives in Hull city centre, said his life was saved when an anonymous phone call was made to police by a concerned neighbour.
Williamson was convicted of two offences of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and three offences of assaulting Mr McNicholl, causing actual bodily harm, between Christmas 2006 and May 2008.
She was jailed for seven years in April 2009 at Grimsby Crown Court and is due to be released on licence in September.
Mr McNicholl said: "We have got to change the public perception that domestic abuse is just male on female.
"I agree it's the majority and I don't want to see any services cut for women or perpetrators.
"But male victims are being treated like paupers and the awareness is all aimed at female services.
"Either the Strength To Change course is not working, people have been incorrectly signposted, or maybe, for whatever reason, people who are being offered help are walking away from it.
"No one can deny men are victims of domestic abuse."
According to the figures, 5,811 women reported domestic abuse to police in Hull in 2011, compared with 5,357 in 2010 and 5,253 in 2009.