Domestic violence can take on many shapes and forms, where women have been found to be the victims in most cases, but men are also not immune to it. Men are victimized far more often than you might think. They’re just less likely to come forward and admit what has been taking place.
Domestic violence against men is no laughing matter. It can be extremely dangerous and can end deadly in some cases. Not only should more people be aware of what’s going on, but more drastic action needs to take place to meet the growing concern.
Domestic Violence Against Men
Women are not always the victim in domestic violence situations. Although less talked about, intimate partner violence (IPV) happens to men as well. Studies have shown that men can be punched, slapped, grabbed, kicked or choked by their partner.
Men are far more likely to keep their situation a secret, where only 20% of victims ever come forward and tell the police or a health professional about being victimized. This is because of embarrassment or fear that they will be ridiculed, made fun of, or that no one will believe them. There are stories of victims that do come forward and have stated that the agencies that were supposed to be helping them, actually treated them with suspicion.
Even though domestic violence against men has been oftentimes laughed upon and many people don’t believe that it happens, a growing awareness has begun to take place. Thanks to social media and documentaries completed on male victims, the seriousness of this issue has come to light.
Male Victims of Domestic Violence
The male victims of domestic violence are usually in a close relationship with their abuser, whether it’s a heterosexual or same-sex relationship. Abuse happens when there is an imbalance of power and a desire by one to control the other partner. Domestic violence can be done physically, emotionally, or sexually. Stalking or threatening can be just as destructive or dangerous, and should never be taken lightly.
Male victims often put the blame on themselves and are manipulated into thinking that they are the abuser. It’s normal for victims to act out physically or verbally against their abuser. This may be an unhealthy behavior, but victims should never put the blame on themselves for this kind of behavior.
Recognizing Domestic Violence
It’s not always easy to point out a person that is a domestic abuser because the warning signs may be subtle earlier on. At the beginning of the relationship, one may mistake controlling as being protective for instance.
At first, there may be only one or two instances, few and far in between, and your partner may apologize saying that it will never happen again. But in most cases, the abuse will only gradually get worse. Here are a few things to look out for, and indicators that usually begin to worsen over time as the abuse becomes more evident.
- Puts you down or calls you names
- Stops you from seeing your family or friends
- Gets angry when drinking alcohol or doing drugs
- Shows signs of jealousy, accusing you of being unfaithful
- Tells you what you should wear, where you can go, or how you can spend your money
- The abuser says that you cannot visit a health care provider
- Begins to threaten you with violence or with the use of a weapon
- Punches, slaps, kicks, or chokes you, your children, or your pets
- Forces you to have sex, or to participate in other sexual acts without your consent
- Tries to put the blame on you and that it’s deserved
- The abuser threatens to tell those closest to you about your sexual orientation or gender identity
If you are gay, bisexual or transgender, these are some other things that you may experience or be told from your abuser.
- The abuser may try to dissuade you that authorities will not help people like you
- The abuser may tell you that leaving the relationship only proves that you believe that your sexual orientation or gender identity is morally wrong
- The abuser may justify the abuse by saying that you are not “really” gay, bisexual or transgender
- The abuser may tell you that men are naturally more violent
Education and Action is Needed
The gender stereotype that society has created, where men are always the villain and women are always the victim, needs to be challenged. Especially with the stories and facts that have surfaced over the past few decades. More education and training need to take place among health-care providers, law enforcement and the judiciary. IPV is a real issue for men as well as it is for women.
There’s not a lot of help or support for men who have faced IPV. Based on the facts, there is a dire need for shelters for men who are seeking help. Out of the 627 shelters that are in Canada, only 6% of them admit male victims, and zero of them were shelters solely for men.
A vast majority of the intervention programs of today are designed for men that are living in a heterosexual relationship. It’s imperative that these programs are developed into an intervention method that’s aimed at female domestic abusers as well.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, know that it is never the victim’s fault and it’s time to get the help that you need. Whenever faced with a life-threatening situation, don’t hesitate to call 911.
There’s also the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233), that can get you the resources, referrals, or the crisis intervention that you need.
If you don’t feel comfortable with calling the hotline, make sure that you do talk to someone that you can trust.
That could be a relative, friend, neighbor, coworker, or a spiritual advisor. There are also counseling and support groups for people that have also been in abusive relationships, that can give you the encouragement that you need.
No one ever deserves to be abused. No one. It can have a crippling effect on male victims and the empowerment should not be allowed to continue. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get the help that you need.