The number of male victims of domestic violence forced to seek legal protection against their abusers has increased by 50 per cent during the Covid pandemic, new figures show.
The National Centre for Domestic Violence said the number of men seeking legal help to prevent further attacks rose from 2,207 in 2019 to 3,264 last year.
The 50 per cent increase was nearly double the rise for all victims, which was 22 per cent from 27,440 to 33,494, according to the centre, which helps victims secure non-molestation orders that place restrictions on contact after separation.
The organisation said the successive Covid lockdowns meant men who normally walked away from abuse had been forced to stay at home, leading to increased violence and tensions within households.
This had combined with money pressures through being off work or furloughed, often in homes where they were the main wage earner. There had also been a lack of "safety valves" such as going to work or exercising at the gym, meaning they were at home 24/7.
Mark Groves, the centre's chief executive, said: "This is a hidden subplot of the pandemic. While, quite rightly, there is massive public concern at how domestic abuse – including femicide – has climbed during successive lockdowns, we now see irrefutable evidence that the plague of domestic abuse is afflicting thousands of male as well as female victims."
Mankind, a charity for male victims of domestic abuse, said calls to its helpline had increased by 25 per cent to 190 a month from April to December last year, while website visits were up by 74 per cent to 14,879.
Mark Brooks, the chairman of Mankind, said lockdowns had led to abuse already present in households becoming "worse and more intensive", adding: "Victims reached a point where they needed help to escape. We had men contacting us who were sleeping in cars, garages, tents or rough sleeping. There were fewer places to go, whether bed and breakfast accommodation or their parents."
He said another source of conflict had been cases in which ex-wives had used the Covid restrictions to deny former partners access to their children.
The first lockdown saw police record 206,492 violence against the person offences flagged as domestic abuse-related between March and June last year – a nine per cent increase on the same period in 2019.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 experienced domestic abuse in the year to March 2020. This comprised 1.6 million women and 757,000 men.