First men’s refuge in Essex opens to provide safe space for male domestic abuse survivors  

News / Thu 21st Mar 2024 at 11:32am

THE official opening of the first men’s domestic abuse refuge in Essex took place Friday 15th March to provide specialist support and care to male survivors.  

‘Alex House’, named after domestic abuse victim Alex O’Donoghue who took his own life in 2022, was opened officially by Alex’s parents on what was an incredibly emotional day. 

The opening was attended by Robert Halfon MP, Allison Askwith (Alex’s mother) and four other members of Alex’s family, Paul Austin (District Commander), Councillor Lanie Shears (Member Champion for Domestic Abuse), and Jayne Gentry (Director of Operations of Safer Places). 

While women are more likely to experience abuse, domestic abuse doesn’t just occur between male perpetrators and female victims. Current statistics show one third of all victims of domestic abuse are men, with one in six men suffering from domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime. 

Despite the prevalence of abuse, men are less likely to come forward for support or to tell anyone about their experiences. According to ManKind, two thirds of men who call their helpline have never told anyone else about the abuse they’ve experienced. 

Alison Askwith said: “We are honored to have been invited by Safer Places to open this refuge, which is named ‘Alex House’ in memory of our son. Alex’s story ended tragically when he took his own life after enduring domestic abuse, a reality that too many men face in silence. This refuge symbolizes a beacon of hope and support for those experiencing similar struggles. By opening Alex House, we hope to highlight the urgent need for accessible support for all victims of domestic abuse. We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to support this vital cause and to keep Alex’s memory alive in such a significant way.” 

Robert Halfon MP said: “It’s very special being here today. To have the only male shelter in Essex – a beautiful place named after a victim of domestic abuse who sadly lost his life, with the family all here today – I think it’s a very special moment for male victims of domestic abuse so they know that Safer Places are there to look after them. I just want to thank Safer Places, as they are such a wonderful organisation who I’ve known for many years. I really mean it from the bottom of my heart. Thank god they are here to look after people who suffer in this way.” 

Jayne Gentry said: “We’re so unbelievably proud to be opening this refuge, to provide support for men who often get forgotten in discussions on domestic abuse. Through Alex House, male victims will not only get specialist support for our incredible staff, but they’ll also be able to meet other men who have been through the same, who are beginning their journey to recovery, and who will make them feel a little less alone.” 

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2 Comments for First men’s refuge in Essex opens to provide safe space for male domestic abuse survivors  :

2024-03-25 20:13:35

An issue that is rarely spoken about. A nephew of mine was in a toxic relationship with a woman who physically abused him regularly. He's a lovely young man who was raised in the right way and was not at all inclined to fight back against her. She would hit him with her fists, scratch him with her fingernails and even attack him when he was asleep. Eventually she stabbed him with a kitchen knife and he almost died. The behaviour is no different to male abusers. She was always sorry after each incident, etc. Fortunately he never had any children with her, and didn't go back to her after the stabbing. He is now happily married to a lovely woman and has two kids. He had a lucky escape. Any men who are in this sort of abusive relationship need to recognise it for what it is, and get out. Ask for help. People will understand and will want to help.

Paula Maddison Green
2024-04-02 06:34:21

Well done!! Amazing work and much needed!

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