When I heard the story of how 22 year old Alex Skeel was beaten and tortured until near death by his girlfriend Jordan Worth, it completely broke my heart. Perhaps moreso than other domestic violence cases, purely because the victim was a male. This shouldn’t be shocking – domestic violence against men is so much more common than you think.
Alex Skeel endured frequent beatings causing hydrocephalus, which is where there is excessive fluid build-up on the brain. He had hammers and knives thrown at him and had boiling water thrown on him as he slept, leaving him with second and third degree burns on 5% of his body, causing permanent scarring. He was also made to sleep on the floor for eight months and was forced to completely cut off contact from his family and friends. He was stabbed and cut so deeply that doctors said if they had been any deeper he could have died. Alex was not allowed to undergo surgery for his injuries whilst under the control of Jordan Worth, and was self treating his injuries with cling film. When neighbours rang the police reporting arguments and shouting from the home, and police commented on his injuries he claimed he “did them to himself.” It was only when a police officer questioned him in the privacy of a police vehicle with his body camera switched off that Alex finally admitted the true extent of the physical and psychological torture he had gone through. Even then he asked the officer to say it was based on the neighbours’ allegations and not his confession out of fear of the consequences. Jordan Worth was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
Alex is not the only male who has gone through such a horrific experience. So why don’t we hear about it? Domestic violence campaigns are largely focused around women, and while there is no denying that women are victims of domestic abuse, here are some shocking statistics courtesy of Arch, a domestic abuse charity working in North Staffordshire.
- In the UK, 2.2 million men are victims of domestic abuse, that’s 1 in 6 men.
- 1 in 4 victims of revenge porn are men
- last year 28 men were murdered by their partner or ex-partner
- only 10% of men report abuse to the police
A lot of the time domestic abuse against men is assumed to be more psychological and emotional rather than physical. Some seem to have the misconception that emotional abuse is somehow less severe than physical abuse, when in actual fact it can cause lasting psychological trauma. A sexist and patriarchal society has made many believe that men should be macho enough to “cope” with domestic abuse or just leave an abusive relationship. Regardless of gender: abuse is abuse, and the psychological control that the abuser has over you is exactly the same. We need to move away from the rhetoric that women are somehow not capable of extreme violence, torture and abuse on the same magnitude as men.
We need to open up the conversation about male victims of domestic abuse and encourage those who are suffering in silence to speak up and tell their stories. We must ensure that those guilty are punished and also to reassure them that, as a society, we are here to support all victims of domestic abuse; men, members of the LGBTQ+ community and those of other races – not just white women. Alex got out just in time; authorities suspected he only had 10 days left to live. Now he wants to encourage other victims of domestic abuse to speak out against their abusers.
National Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247