Domestic violence against men: You’re not alone
Men are often portrayed as the abuser in domestic violence, but this is far from the truth, men can be and are recipients of abuse too.
Abuse of men happens far more than people realize in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships. It occurs to men from all cultures and walks of life regardless of age.
Figures suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence are male. With that figure suspected to be higher as men are often reluctant to report the abuse, due to fears they would not be believed, embarrassment and the very real fear their partner may take revenge.
A partner may use physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, punching, spitting, throwing objects are their partner, and destroying possessions that you hold dear. Reports have shown that they attack when their partner is sleeping to catch them by surprise, it is assumed this happens due to the fact the abuser can be smaller in stature to this makes up for the difference in strength for example.
Some men have been confronted with weapons such as guns and knives, the abuser may threaten to use these on a child or pet to obtain control over the man.
Domestic abuse isn’t limited to violent acts, there is emotional and verbal abuse, that is used over time to damage the man’s mental well-being. He may have to endure humiliation or belittling behavior in front of his children, family, and friends, work colleagues even social media.
They find themselves accused of being unfaithful, the abusers will be possessive and jealous of them and blame them for making them act this way.
They find themselves isolated from their family and friends,
Control will be used such as taking away car keys, medication, food, money, some have even experienced financial fraud taken out in their name.
They will be lied about to people in authority such as an employer to the point of him losing his job to isolate the man from what is his only one sanctuary away from the abuser.
They live with threats of separation from their children and threats of being reported for child abuse which is not true.
Abused men face the same battle when getting the support they so badly need as women do. They live in fear and are already facing a battle in surviving the mental damage done to them.
If you’re gay, bisexual, or transgender
You can experience domestic violence and abuse if you’re in a relationship with someone who:
Threatens to tell friends, family, colleagues, or community members your sexual orientation or gender identity
Tells you that authorities won’t help a gay, bisexual, or transgender person
Tells you that leaving the relationship means you’re admitting that gay, bisexual, or transgender relationships are deviant
Justifies abuse by telling you that you’re not “really” gay, bisexual, or transgender
Says that men are naturally violent
Source: Mayo Clinic
Why men don’t leave abusive relationships
Ending an abusive relationship regardless of gender is in no way easy. It is harder when you have been isolated from friends and family, and lived a life of manipulation, control, and threats.
You may feel that you have to stay in the relationship because:
You feel ashamed.
Shame plays a huge part in being abused, for men they will feel that they have in some way failed as a husband, father, or even as a man in general.
Your religious beliefs dictate that you stay.
There are still some religions that teach marriage is for life, and for men who follow that belief the shame of failure is a heavy burden, which feeds into low self-worth and that in some way they have failed God and the abuse must be deserved.
There’s a lack of resources.
Many men believe that seeking help will minimize who they are, that the police will not believe them, and that there is no one out there who can help them.
You’re in the same-sex relationship but haven’t come out
Not all relationships are out in the open and that is a personal choice, so for the man to try and get away from the abuse the threat of their family and friends being told is what makes them stay.
You’re in denial.
As with female domestic violence victims, facing up to and admitting there is a problem is hard to go through. Denial is a huge part of the abuse. The abuser will beg them to stay, promise never to hit them again, make all kinds of promises to make the man stay and once he agrees to stay he is then stuck in the vicious cycle of stay/leave until one day it is all too much and he leaves.
You want to protect your children.
The desire to protect his children will be the biggest thing keeping him in an abusive relationship. His fear that his children will be harmed is what makes him endure what he has to in his mind to protect his children. He fears obtaining custody or even visitation rights will be something he won’t easily achieve.
Protecting yourself as an abused male
Domestic violence has a serious physical and psychological impact on all survivors of abuse. The first step is always the hardest and that is finding someone you can reach out to and ask for help, find someone you can trust such as a family member or call a domestic violence hotline, they are for all genders and not just for women as so often people believe.
Finally acknowledging there is a problem does not in any way make you a failure as a man, you are not to blame for the abuse and you are not weak, you are a lot stronger than you think.
Sharing details of the abuse will help you later for building a case against your abuser as collecting evidence will be key for you.
When dealing with your abusive partner:
Leave if possible.
You will be aware of what triggers the abuser as you have lived with it for so long, where possible leave as quickly as you can if you can’t because you fear for your children have an escape plan that includes them, or call the police, each call to the home for domestic abuse is recorded and kept, the police have a legal obligation to protect you and your children just as they would a woman in the same situation.
The abuser aims to get you to retaliate so they can say look what he did to me and get you arrested.
Get evidence of the abuse.
Keep your own records of calls to the police, take photographs of your injuries, keep a journal in a secure place often for men this will be at their place of work. Visit doctors so they can assess your injuries and themselves have a record, hospital visits will also be a way of recording your injuries and they will also advise you of support you can obtain, in serious cases they will engage with police as they have a duty of care for you.
Keep a mobile phone, evidence of the abuse, and other important documents close at hand.
Have somewhere outside the home where you can safely leave a mobile phone, important documents such as birth certificates, marriage license, passport, and driver license.
Obtain advice from a domestic violence program
These can be local to you and you will find them online, do the search outside your home so your partner doesn’t find out that you are seeking professional assistance, some abusers have been known to install keystroke software without the partner knowing.
Moving on from an abusive relationship
You will struggle after leaving the abusive relationship and find yourself wondering what you did wrong, the answer is you did nothing wrong, none of this is your fault.
Your emotions will be all over the place, you will find life a struggle and hard to settle into a place you feel safe. You should seek professional help and support groups during this time, but that is, of course, a personal choice.
New relationships will be daunting, a challenge or perhaps you will not want to start a new relationship at all for the time being. There are no rules for recovery from abuse, you just take one day at a time, one step at a time, you will know when you are ready.
For now, embrace your freedom and relish the fact you are now back in control of your life.