Domestic abuse is totally unacceptable whether the perpetrator or the victim is male or female. The number of incidents of domestic abuse in Scotland is frankly appalling. There were more than 50,000 in 2008-09, each one of which represents a human life in turmoil. As the minister quite rightly said earlier, 8,000 men reporting domestic abuse in Scotland—14 per cent of the total—is not an insignificant number.
In many cases, domestic abuse will not be reported to the police. In fact, the number of cases will be way higher than the number reported. We can only imagine what is going on "behind closed doors." Make no mistake: domestic abuse is a crime, whether it is physical or psychological. We need to help victims have the confidence to seek help. They need to know that help is there and that they will be believed. People should not accept this crime as part of life—they should not have to live with domestic abuse under any circumstances.
According to the 2008-09 Scottish crime and justice survey module on partner abuse, men are less likely than women to view abuse as a crime or to see themselves as a victim of domestic abuse. That might have influenced their decision not to inform police. Unfortunately, they are more likely to consider physical or psychological abuse as just something that happens to them. That is not acceptable. They should not be living in fear of the next incident—that destroys lives across the country, and not just victims' lives but their families' lives.
Many men choose not to report this crime for whatever reason, whether the stigma attached to it or the fear of the authorities not believing them. The female attacker often makes counter claims to the police that they are the victim. The assumption is often made that the man is the perpetrator and the woman is the victim. The true scale of the problem for male victims of women's violence is hidden, which makes it very hard to deal with.