|Why am I letting this happen?|
Men who are abused by women often suffer in silence because they are afraid that no one will believe them or take them seriously. In addition to the shame shared by many women victims of domestic violence, men must overcome gender stereotypes.
Many men are too embarrassed to admit that they are being abused. Traditional gender roles also confuse the matter. A 'real man' is expected to be able to "control" his wife. Aside from the embarrassment over admitting abuse, abused men may feel that they are somehow less of a man for "allowing" themselves to be abused.
"It hits your self-esteem as a man because you do catch yourself thinking "why am I letting this happen?".
But just like abused women are told when they suffer physical violence, abuse is never the victim's fault. This is no less true just because the victim happens to be male. It's difficult for men to ask for support.
How Domestic Violence Affects MenThe researchers found domestic violence is associated with serious, long-term effects on men's mental health.
Women are more likely than men to experience more severe physical abuse, "But even nonphysical abuse can do lasting damage."(1)
Depressive symptoms were nearly three times as common in older men who had experienced abuse than in those who hadn't, with much more severe depression in the men who had been abused physically.
What Makes the Women Turn Violent Against the Men
- The woman is an alcoholic. As a result, she is not able to control her impulses and gets easily frustrated. If her partner tries to stop her or tries to reason with her, she might get violent and turn against her partner.
- The woman has psychological problems. Personality disorders may cause a woman to commit domestic violence against the man.
- The woman has unrealistic expectations or unrealistic demands. Women who have unrealistic expectations or who give unrealistic demands from their partners or the men get easily frustrated, depressed, anxious or irritable. Such reactions may very well turn them violent. To top it all, these women would refuse to get treatment or to let their men help them. As a result, the cycle continues.
How to Know if You're a Victim of Domestic ViolenceThe signs that the men are also victims of domestic violence are much, much similar to the signs of domestic violence against women. Here are just some of these signs:
- The woman calls the man bad names, insults him (publicly or privately) and tries to put him down every chance she has.
- The woman tries to stop the man from going to work or to public places. She also tries to prevent him from seeing his family members and friends.
- The woman threatens the man with violence and harm, particularly when she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The woman actually hits or hurts the man by kicking, punching, slapping, shoving or choking him. Or the woman may do the same things to their children or pets.
- The woman takes advantage of the man sleeping or resting and assaults him when he is in no position to defend himself.
- The woman threatens to leave the man and to take their children with her if he will attempt to go against her or to fight back.
- Despite all of above, the woman blames the man for her behaviour!
Tips for the Male Victim of Domestic Violence
Take the violence seriously
Many men are inclined to find it amusing when the 'little woman' lashes out at them. (In one survey of college students, 20% of men who had been attacked by their girlfriends thought it was funny). Violence that seems harmless at first can escalate.
The first time she hits you, tell her that if there's a second time, it will be the last time she sees you - and act on it.
Don't hit back
If you're an average sized man and your partner is an average sized woman, you can do major damage with a single blow. You will feel much better about yourself if you don't retaliate in kind. However, physically restraining the batterer is ordinarily not an acceptable alternative.
Don't keep it a secret
If you cannot easily leave (because of the children, for example) let someone know what is happening. Overcome the embarrassment and call the police. Talk to a counselor, to your doctor, to family members.
Speak out about your experience as a victim of abuse. Perhaps domestic violence would no longer be perceived as merely a woman's issue.
What To Do In Our CommunityMany domestic violence services are aimed mostly at helping a female population. University found that when an abused man called the police, the police were more likely to arrest him than to arrest his abusive female partner. This is partly the result of primary aggressor laws, which encourage police to discount who initiated and committed the violence but instead look at other factors that make them likelier to arrest men.
When the men tried calling domestic-violence hot lines, 64% were told the hot lines helped only women, and more than half were referred to programs for male domestic-violence perpetrators.(2)Work to ensure that male domestic-violence victims will not lose their children in custody proceedings. Ms Hines (2) fond that the biggest reason male domestic-violence victims hesitate to leave their wives/girlfriends is concern for their children. If they leave, their children are left unprotected in the hands of a violent mother. If they take their children, when they're found, the children will be taken away and given to the mother. Moreover, the men are likely to lose custody of their children in the divorce/custody proceeding in any event.
When safe, the domestic violence system needs to treat violent couples as violent couples, instead of shoehorning them into the "man as perp/woman as victim" model. Counselling services for violent couples are unnecessarily rare. Please call our Counselling Service for support and counselling on 02 9542 4029 (Sydney office).
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