A telephone hotline set up to help prevent domestic violence has received calls from more than 1,300 men seeking advice on how to stop abusing their partners. The service, started for men in September 2000 by women's refuge Harmony House, received these calls about domestic violence up to December last year. In more than 90 per cent of these cases, the victims were women. Chan Yuk-chung, of the Polytechnic University's Department of Applied Social Sciences, said many Chinese men thought it was normal to beat their partners and would not seek help until the victims were seriously injured, hospitalised, or threatened to leave them. Mr Chan is in charge of the hotline project. 'These batterers do not think beating their partners is a problem. They think they are just expressing their emotions,' he said. The cases involved mainly telephone counselling but in 83 cases, Harmony House contacted the men and provided a more in-depth service. Of these, 75 were men who abused their partners and eight men were themselves abused by their spouses or girlfriends. Though the abuse was mostly physical, the cases also involved verbal and emotional abuse. The batterers were aged between 41 and 50 and were blue-collar workers. Fifty-two had a primary school education and 27 earned between $6,001 and $9,000. Twenty-two-year-old Ben said he abused his girlfriend for a year before he sought help. He said he once grabbed his girlfriend's neck and hit her face. 'One of my friends referred me to Harmony House for counselling,' he said. According to Dr Chan, batterers often rationalised that it was their wives or girlfriends who first created problems that caused them to become angry. They have trouble communicating with their partners and expressing their feelings. Margaret Wong Fung Yee, Harmony House executive director, said: 'We hope more men with problems seek help.'