Lifeline for male victims of domestic violence

Pictured at the launch of Lancashires first safe house for male victims of domestic abuse in Burnley are, from left to right, Mark Brooks, Ian McNicholl, Karen Ainsworth (chair of SafeNet Board), Anthony Duerden (chief executive of The Calico Group)

Pictured at the launch of Lancashires first safe house for male victims of domestic abuse in Burnley are, from left to right, Mark Brooks, Ian McNicholl, Karen Ainsworth (chair of SafeNet Board), Anthony Duerden (chief executive of The Calico Group)

A new refuge opens for men suffering in silence

A lifeline has been given to male victims of domestic abuse as the county’s first refuge places for men are officially launched.

The safe house, which is open to men from all over Lancashire, has been full since it was first made available six months ago as a pilot scheme.

Charities say it highlights the urgent need for a network of safe houses across the county for men who want to flee their abusive partners.

The official launch took place at Calico Housing’s Centenary Court office in Burnley.

Calico Homes and domestic violence charity SafeNet have provided the safehouse places in east Lancashire, alongside a specialist male victim support service. Three men are currently being supported but the team reports there is even more demand. Around a fifth of domestic violence victims in the county are believed to be men.

We want to see a network of safe houses like this across the whole of Lancashire – the fact that this safe house has been full since it opened, shows there is a clear need

Mark Brooks, chairman of the ManKind Initiative, which supports male victims of abuse, gave a speech at the opening.

Today he said: “The partnership between Calico Homes and Safenet is groundbreaking as there is no other safe house for male victims of domestic abuse anywhere near. Men fleeing from domestic abuse need to escape to somewhere safe and have the chance to rebuild their life.

“We want to see a network of safe houses like this across the whole of Lancashire – the fact that this safe house has been full since it opened, shows there is a clear need.”

The Lancashire opening was attended by businessman Ian McNicholl, 49, who hit the headlines nationally when his 5ft 1in ex partner, Michelle Williamson, was jailed for seven years for causing him grievous bodily harm. He suffered two years of abuse, including having bleach sprayed in his eyes, fractures to his skull, cheekbones, and nose, three cracked ribs, and horrific burns on his arm from an iron.

Former barman Martyn Brown, 29, was stabbed in the chest, stomach and head, bitten, scratched and slapped by his savage fiancee Harriet Sharp

Former barman Martyn Brown, 29, was stabbed in the chest, stomach and head, bitten, scratched and slapped by his savage fiancee Harriet Sharp

She also lit cigarettes and pushed them up his nose, poured two kettles of boiling water over him - and even attacked him with a vacuum cleaner, splitting his cheek,

Ian was beaten with a metal bar and his body smashed in several places with a claw hammer before an anonymous phone call to police led to her arrest.

Find help

Safenet - 07866 510 728

Fylde Coast Women’s Aid

helpline 01253 596699

Preston’s 24 hour staffed

domestic violence helpline - 01772 201601

Mankind Initiative - 01823 334244

Fylde Coast Men’s Support

Association - 07932 898274

‘I would have sought help if I had known it was available’

Former barman Martyn Brown, from Blackpool, suffered horrific knife injuries when his fiancee, whom he had known since school, began to inflict domestic violence upon him.

The pair had met at St Aidan’s school in Preesall, and after being reunited by a mutual friend years later, they moved in together and decided to set a wedding date at Blackpool’s Park View Hotel.

But his dreams of matrimonial happiness quickly turned into a nightmare.

The abuse culminated in a violent ordeal in which evil Harriet Sharp knifed him repeatedly, leaving him bleeding and terrified at their Cleveleys flat. She then feigned stomch pains and called an ambulance – for herself – and ordered him to keep quiet.

Suspicious paramedics realised the dad-of-two was badly injured and took him to their ambulance. He had suffered a punctured lung.

They had been together for five months before he moved into her one bedroomed flat on Beach Road in Cleveleys - where her mother Jane

was also staying.

During their relationship Martyn was stabbed, bitten, scratched, sliced, slapped and kicked.

Sharp, 25, of Beach Road, Cleveleys, was given an 11 year jail sentence with a four year extended licence after a judge found her to be a “very dangerous woman”.

As well as coping with his physical injuries, ongoing pain and shocking scarring, Martyn is suffering mental health issues. He tried twice to take his own life in the devastating aftermath of the attacks, and is currently being treated at The Harbour hospital in Blackpool having suffered hallucinations, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety attacks and suicidal feelings.

Speaking a few days before the safehouse was launched, he said: “If I had known there was support available for men who are victims of abuse at the time, I would have sought it. But I was too scared to tell anyone. If someone in my situation is reading this I hope they get out, because it will get worse.”

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