“It is such a shameful experience…” barriers to help-seeking among male survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in Uganda
Female-perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) against men in Uganda is a subject of debate, with arguments casting doubt about its existence, nature and magnitude. Consequently, the majority of male IPV survivors have become hesitant to seek help following victimisation. Thus, the aim of this paper was to explore the barriers that hinder formal and informal help-seeking among male IPV survivors following abuse by their female intimate partners. Since the study’s focus was on victimised men’s subjective experiences, a qualitative design was employed. In-depth interviews were conducted with a sample of 10 men from the central region of Uganda, who were identified through snowball sampling, as having experienced female-perpetrated IPV. This sample included men who had sought help for their IPV victimisation from a range of sources and those who had not sought any help at all. Drawing on evidence from the male survivors’ narratives, the study revealed a range of barriers that prevented them from seeking help. These are presented in three themes: stereotypical help-seeking anticipations; lack of awareness about victim support services and interruptions during actual help-seeking attempts. The findings make a case for societal recognition of male IPV, development of strategies to enhance men’s help-seeking behaviours, a need for robust male-centred IPV survivor support and resources, as well as training of IPV professionals on gender responsive and inclusive service support approaches.