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Page last updated at 07:29 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009
'She'd put cigarettes out on me'

By Jim Reed
Newsbeat reporter

Men in England and Wales aged between 20 and 24 are just as likely to be abused by their partners as women in the same age group. Campaigners claim not enough is being done by the police, social services and the government to tackle the problem. Read one victim's story.

Actor portraying victim of domestic violence

Mark from Buckinghamshire, not his real name, was a victim of abuse for nearly a decade. He met his girlfriend in a bar.

"As the place was closing I heard this loud voice demanding another double Jack Daniels. We chatted for a while and I walked her home. Six weeks later she was pregnant with my first child," he told Newsbeat.

Mark says the domestic violence started about three months into the relationship.

I've been stabbed with scissors in my thumb and my wrist. I've had a marble chopping board smashed over my head which needed 12 stitches
Mark describes some of the abuse he received
"Quite early on there was an incident where somebody had come to her flat, knocking on the window in the early hours of the morning. It turned out to be her ex-partner.

"She was incredibly abusive to him. I said to her, 'Listen. If you've got some things and issues to sort out with your ex, then that's no problem. I'll leave. You get on and do what you need to do. I'll speak to you tomorrow'.

"As I went to leave her flat, she grabbed a carving knife and was waving it. She wasn't directly threatening me with it but it was in her hand.

"And she said, 'Don't walk out on me. Don't walk away from me'. And alarm bells were ringing.

"Obviously I'd only known her two weeks. And with hindsight being as wonderful as it is I should have just kept walking."

'Stabbed with scissors'

Mark says that early incident in their relationship escalated to much more serious abuse.

"I've been stabbed with scissors in my thumb and my wrist. I've had a marble chopping board smashed over my head which needed 12 stitches," he said.

Male domestic violence
6.4% of men in England and Wales between the ages of 20 and 24 say they were victims of abuse in 2008
5.4% of women in the same age group reported being victims of domestic violence
Two in 10 men have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16
Three in 10 women have experienced the same abuse
One in six men will be abused by their partner in their lifetime
"She would put cigarettes out on me. She'd send the kids into the back garden to play and then she'd corner me in the front room and just attack me.

"She'd be scratching my face, kicking, punching, spitting in my face. That was a regular thing."

Mark says the physical abuse wasn't that hard to deal with, but the psychological manipulation was the worst part because he had no control over it.

"Some nights maybe she'd go out and go missing, turn her phone off, and then come back and say she'd been with another man. All that was going on."

Mark has been asked lots of times why he didn't walk away from the relationship but says it's not that easy to get out of an abusive relationship.

"You know that you've got to leave but you have to go through a whole process to get to the point where you've actually got the strength to walk out that door.

"Also when there are children involved, how difficult is it to walk out of the house with your kids there? It's impossible."

'Scarred for life'

Mark finally left his girlfriend after eight years.

His children are now being looked after by someone else.

He says leaving his kids was the hardest part of the process and why he waited so long to leave his abusive partner.

"I'd packed a little rucksack secretly the night before. I'd phoned a friend the day before and said to him, 'Could he wait at the bottom of the road in his van?'

"She often used to lock the doors and the windows of the house so I couldn't get out. She was worried about me leaving.

"She eventually fell asleep and I grabbed my rucksack and ran down the road with my heart pounding, jumped into my friend's van.

"We drove along the seafront at half two in the morning. I threw my keys and my phone in the sea. That was my way of saying to myself, 'OK. I'm starting a new life'.

"To be honest I wish I'd done it years before. But I stuck at it for the sake of the kids."

"I don't think I'll ever recover. I know I won't recover from what I went through. I've just learnt now how to live with it.

"But I'll carry the scars for the rest of my life."



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