A group of four boys walking away down a street

Men and boys

Research on young men and boys’ experiences of abuse, views on masculinity and understanding of healthy relationships.

We can’t end domestic abuse without listening to voices of men and boys.

Men and boys are more likely to harm themselves and others, and less likely to talk about it. In order to prevent violence and abuse from taking place, there is a necessity to stimulate a broader discussion about gendered violence, bringing men and boys into a conversation, exploring their involvement in ending domestic abuse and linking this with the other big issues and pressures we know they face.

In 2019, we gathered the voices and perspectives of more than 1,000 men and boys aged 11 and over, including boys and young men who were survivors of abuse. We asked about a range of topics, and many participants told us they’d never been asked about these topics before.

The main topics included:

  • their own experiences of abuse, either abuse they have committed or been a victim of
  • their views on what ‘masculinity’ means to them, and the impact of gender norms on their lives
  • what a ‘healthy’ relationship looks like to them

In 2020, we followed this up by developing a Men and Boys toolkit called ‘What does healthy look like?’ to support professionals to have difficult conversations with young people about healthy relationships.

We shaped the “What does healthy look like?” toolkit into a concise and accessible guide outlining the importance of seeing this whole person, with further guidance on how to integrate this into practice. We heard from several practitioners that approaching the topic of relationships was the biggest hurdle for them, so we also put together a resource of ‘Conversation Starters’ to support this.


Our findings

Facts and figures

  • Facts and figures

    of men agree that society’s view of masculinity can have a negative effect on the mental health of men and boys

  • Facts and figures

    of male survivors did not tell anyone about the abuse

  • Facts and figures

    of male survivors told us the abuse made them feel suicidal, or have suicidal thoughts

Men and Boys Voices: partnership building

The latest phase of this project, which lasted until September 2023, aimed to develop further partnerships with organisations to operate credibly and influence the spaces occupied by men and boys, to bring them into the conversation about ending domestic abuse, tackling misogyny, and reducing the likelihood that harm happens.

Working with survivors, and cross-sector partners, we continued to engage with men and boys, hearing voices that were rarely heard in the public conversation about domestic abuse and making those voices part of new materials and methods to create change. By co-creating content alongside people with relevant personal experience – including men and boys – we have started to make them part of the solution.

We have held a series of conversations with key experts and stakeholders to build on our knowledge-base. From the conversations we have had with various stakeholders, we found that there is no single pathway into abusive behaviour for men and boys, but they can be broadly summarised as follows:

  • exposure to violence in childhood
  • presence of community norms that support gendered violence
  • alcohol and substance misuse
  • harmful ideas of masculinity and gender norms
  • extra-familial exploitation

In addition to the toolkit we have produced, there is also a podcast and webinar session, which are both available for access. The pack has been tested and reviewed by a range of organisations and practitioners with the intention that this resource should be something anyone working with young people can pick up and use.  We have been able to add to these resources with more recent work, the Your Best Friend project, which has created a range of materials from design work by young people themselves. All of these are freely available for other people to use.

The final report from the Men and Boys Voices project can be found here.

For further information on our work with men and boys, please contact us.

Contact us

Further research and resources

What does healthy look like?

Resources to help professionals have conversations with young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships

Male survivors: findings

Research on male victim’s experiences in romantic relationships and help-seeking behaviours.

Survivor stories

Our survivor stories page is being updated; check back later for more information.
Play video

Watch: A call to action

This event on 19 April 2021 provided a space for men to challenge male violence against women and girls, supported by the violence against women and girls (VAWG) sector, activists and academics.

It was a collaboration between H.O.P.E Training and Consultancy, SafeLives, Drive, Respect, University of Suffolk and Domestic Abuse Research Network (DARNet).

Download a transcript of this event.

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