Domestic violence against men: you are not alone
If you are a man in an abusive relationship, it is important to know that you are not alone. Abuse of men occurs much more often than would be expected, both in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. It happens to men from all cultures and walks of life, regardless of age or occupation. Figures suggest that up to one in three victims of domestic violence are men. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse because they feel ashamed, fear that they will not be believed, or fear that their partner will take revenge.
An abusive partner can hit, kick, bite, hit, spit, throw things, or destroy their possessions. To compensate for any difference in strength, they may attack you while you sleep or otherwise catch you by surprise. They can also use a weapon, such as a gun or knife, or hit it with an object, abuse or threaten their children, or harm their pets.
Of course, domestic abuse is not limited to violence. Emotional and verbal abuse can be just as damaging. As a man, your spouse or partner can:
- Verbally abusing you, belittling or humiliating you in front of friends, colleagues or family, or on social media.
- Be possessive, act jealous, or harass you with accusations of being unfaithful.
- Take away the keys or medications from your car, try to control where you are going and who you see.
- Try to control how you spend money or deliberately default on joint financial obligations.
- Make false accusations about yourself to your friends, employer or the police, or find other ways to manipulate and isolate you.
- Threatening to quit and preventing you from seeing your children if you report abuse.
As a battered man, you may face a shortage of resources, a lack of understanding on the part of friends and family, and legal obstacles, especially if you are trying to get custody of your children from an abusive mother. However, whatever your circumstances, you can overcome these challenges and escape violence and abuse.
If you are gay, bisexual or transgender
You can experience domestic violence and abuse if you are in a relationship with someone who:
- You threaten to tell your friends, family, colleagues, or community members about your sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Tells you that the authorities will not help a gay, bisexual or transgender person
- It tells you that leaving the relationship means that you are admitting that homosexual, bisexual, or transgender relationships are deviant
- Justify the abuse by telling you that you are not “really” gay, bisexual or transgender
- Says that men are violent by nature
Source: Mayo Clinic
Why don’t men leave abusive relationships?
Regardless of gender, ending a relationship, even an abusive one, is rarely easy. It becomes even more difficult if you have been isolated from friends and family, threatened, manipulated and controlled, or physically and emotionally beaten.
You may feel that you have to stay in the relationship because:
You feel ashamed Many men are ashamed of having been abused, unable to defend themselves, or somehow failed in their role as man, husband or father.
Your religious beliefs dictate that you stay or your self-esteem is so low that you feel that this abusive relationship is all you deserve.
Resources are lacking. Many men worry that they have a hard time being believed by the authorities, or that their abuse will be minimized because they are men, or find that there are few resources to specifically help abused men.
You are in a same-sex relationship but have not dated your family or friends, and you fear that your partner will reject you.
You are in denial. As with women victims of domestic violence, denying there is a problem in your relationship will only prolong the abuse. You can still love your partner when you are not being abusive and believe that you will change or that you can help her. But change can only happen once your abuser takes full responsibility for her behavior and seeks professional treatment.
You want to protect your children. You are concerned that if you leave, your spouse will harm your children or prevent you from accessing them. Obtaining child custody is always a challenge for parents, but even if you are sure you can do it, you can still feel overwhelmed at the prospect of raising them alone.
Protect yourself like a battered man
Domestic violence and abuse can have a serious physical and psychological impact. The first step to protecting yourself and stopping abuse is to get closer. Talk to a friend, family member, or someone you trust, or call a domestic violence helpline.
Admitting the problem and seeking help does not mean that you have failed as a man or as a husband. You are not to blame and you are not weak. In addition to offering a sense of relief and providing much-needed support, sharing details of your abuse can also be the first step in building a case against your abuser.
When dealing with your abusive partner:
Leave if possible. Be aware of any signals that may trigger a violent response from your partner and be ready to leave quickly. If you need to stay to protect your children, call emergency services. The police have an obligation to protect him, just as they do with a female victim.
Never retaliate. An abusive partner may try to retaliate or use force to escape from the situation. If you retaliate, you risk being arrested or deported from your home.
Obtain evidence of the abuse. Report all incidents to the police and obtain a copy of each police report. Keep a journal of all abuses with a clear record of dates, times, and any witnesses. Include a photographic record of your injuries and make sure your doctor or hospital documents your injuries as well. Remember, medical personnel are unlikely to ask if a man is a victim of domestic violence, so it is up to you to ensure that the cause of your injuries is documented.
Have a cell phone, evidence of abuse, and other important documents on hand. If you have to leave instantly to escape abuse, you should carry evidence of the abuse and important documents, such as a passport and a driver’s license. It may be safer to keep these items out of the home.
Get advice from a domestic violence program or legal aid resource on how to get a restraining order or protective order against your partner and, if necessary, seek temporary custody of your children.
Going from an abusive relationship
Support from family and friends, as well as counseling, therapy, and support groups for survivors of domestic abuse can help you get out of an abusive relationship. You may struggle with disturbing emotions or feel callous, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. After the trauma of an abusive relationship, it can take a while to get over the pain and bad memories, but it can heal and move on.
Even if you are eager to get into a new relationship and finally gain the intimacy and support that you have been missing, it is wise to take it easy. Make sure you are aware of any red flag behavior on a potential new partner and what it takes to build healthy new relationships.