Men also victims of domestic violence

By Brian Taylor
June 30, 2013

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “domestic violence?” If you are like most individuals, you likely picture a male perpetrator hitting and abusing a female victim. Very few of us would envision those roles reversed upon first thought. However, men are also victims of domestic violence. Recent research suggests that around one-third of victims of domestic violence each year are men, the vast majority of which never report their circumstances. It is this stigma that men cannot be — or should not admit to being — a victim of domestic violence, that a concerned citizen, Stephanie Martin, asked me to discuss with the public for this month’s column.

This is a very difficult topic to discuss because of the ingrained perceptions we might have: Our culture has been socialized to see males as aggressors, and not victims. In our movies, television programs and literature, there is an overwhelming image of men as tough and macho. I have heard statements such as “That guy is weak letting her hit him” or “He is such a wimp letting her treat him like that.” A related perception would be that men are culturally expected to suppress their physical and emotional pain in favor of appearing “manly.” In addition, some men might be nervous that if they call the police, the police are not going to believe them and they will be the one that is arrested because the law enforcement officers, like many others in the community, are not inclined to view a male as victim of domestic violence. When in reality law enforcement are trained not to look at gender but rather the facts.

But, as I was having a cup of orange juice with Stephanie, she said something that really hit home: “No one deserves to be a victim; female or male.” Men can batter women and women can batter men; domestic violence flows both directions and this crime does not discriminate.

Stephanie and I talked about how society could address this issue. Widespread cultural change won’t occur over night, but case-by-case changes can lead to a new world. To that end, the question becomes how to prevent anyone — regardless of gender — from abuse. To the question of what causes men not to report domestic violence then, I would therefore respond that it is many of the same reasons that women don’t report violence against them: Control, jealousy, physical threats, emotional and psychological abuse and violence know no boundaries. Why do men feel as though they need to remain in the relationship? Many of the same reasons women do: protection of their children, embarrassment, dependency, religious beliefs, limited resources, and/or denial.

So what can we do? We need to continue educating ourselves on domestic violence in general. Domestic violence isn’t a women’s issue, but a human issue. Neither men nor women should be expected to keep abuse secret, and should know that we — as friends and family — are there for them. Victims need to speak about their experiences as a victim of domestic violence. And finally, we need to come together as a community to support all victims of domestic violence, both men and women. We should never turn a blind eye, because “no one deserves to be a victim.”

STATISTICS FROM A 1998 STUDY

  • 834,732 men were victims of domestic violence
  • Every 37.8 seconds, somewhere in America a man is battered
  • About 2 in 5 of all victims of domestic violence are men
  • Men report domestic violence around 37 percent of the time

Source:  Idaho Press