Men as Victims of Domestic Violence
For too long, domestic violence has been framed and understood exclusively as a women's issue. While most attention is given to women who are abused by men, men are often overlooked victims of domestic violence. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, men account for approximately 15% of the victims of reported intimate partner violence (February 2003).
Women who abuse men are not much different than their male counterparts who abuse women. Men can be hit, kicked, punched, pushed, or bitten by women abusers. Women can also use weapons, such as knives, guns, or any object that can be used to strike.
Abused men are not necessarily smaller or physically weaker than the women who abuse them. Abused men often do not use their greater size or strength to hurt their abusive partners even when they are being hurt.
Think about domestic violence and you think of women, battered by their husband, boyfriend, or a man they used to involved with. Now, think again. Every year in the U.S., about 3.2 million men are the victims of an assault by an intimate partner. Most assaults are of a relatively minor nature such as pushing, shoving, slapping or hitting, though many are more serious - and some end in homicide.
Why Men Donít Report Physical Abuse
Men often suffer physical abuse in silence because they are afraid that no one will believe them or take them seriously. In fact, some men who do try to get help find that they are mocked and ridiculed. No one would even think of telling a battered woman that getting beaten by her husband wasnít a big deal, but people often donít think twice about saying that to a battered man. 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. 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.
Intimate Partner Violence - The Stats
There are a number of difficulties in the collection of statistical data about intimate partner violence. The major problem is that the true size of IPV is unknown because of under-reporting. Statistical data are also affected by different counties and states not collecting data in the same way. This is particularly true in the case of men, probably because of the stigma and embarrassment men may feel as victims of domestic violence.
It is universally recognized that women are more likely than men to be the victims of IPV. In 2002, 24 percent of U.S. homicides that were as a result of IPV were men, compared with 76 percent involving women as victims. The National Crime Victimization Survey reported in 2003 that 85 percent of IPV victims were women.
What to do
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. Counseling services for violent couples are unnecessarily rare.
Establish services and help for male domestic-violence victims. Denise Hines of Clark 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 in Ms. Hines' study tried calling domestic-violence hot lines, 64 percent were told the hot lines helped only women, and more than half were referred to programs for male domestic-violence perpetrators.
Work to ensure that male domestic-violence victims will not lose their children in custody proceedings. Ms. Hines found 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.
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 percent 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 willl feel much better about yourself if you don't retaliate in kind. However, physically restraining the batterer is ordinarily not an acceptable alternative. Criminal Confinement is also a felony criminal charge in Indiana.
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.
Menweb: Help for Abused Men.
Battered Men - The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence. 835,000 men battered each year, silent too long . . . Help for Battered Men - Resources for battered men; Help is available; Are You Battered or Abused?; Why Men Don't Do Anything About It; Why Men Don't Get Help?; What You Can Do; Washington Centers that Serve Men; Other Centers that Serve Men; On-line Help and Support; Latest Research Findings; Articles; In the Media.
Menstuff: Domestic Violence - Another Perspective.
Menstuff has compiled information, books and resources on the issue of domestic violence. Unlike most other national, regional, local and web site resources on Domestic Violence, we don't exclude information pertaining to women as perpetrators and men as victims. We're one of very few to actually provide information written for men who are in an abusive relationship. If you know of others, please let us know.
"Male Victims of Domestic Violence. Why Men Don't Report Physical Abuse," by Christina Gleason. (May 25, 2008)
Men who are abused by women often suffer in silence. In addition to the shame shared by many women victims of domestic violence, men must overcome gender stereotypes.
Domestic Violence Resources for Men Blog.
The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women (DAHMW) was founded in October 2000. We offer support and services to victims of domestic violence and specialize in working with men in relationships with abusive women.
"Male Victims of Domestic Abuse," by Marc E. Angelucci. (About.Com)
When we ignore male victims of domestic abuse, we also ignore their children, who continue to be damaged by witnessing the violence regardless of how severe it is. We cannot break this intergenerational cycle by ignoring half of it.
"Help for Battered Men; Domestic violence befalls mostly women, but men are victims, too. (WebMD)
More than 830,000 men fall victim to domestic violence every year, which means every 37.8 seconds, somewhere in America a man is battered
Male Victims of Domestic Violence: A Substantiuve and Methodological Research Review," by Michael S. Kimmel. (Violence Against Women, 2002)
This substantial article examines the issues of men who are victimized by domestic violence in
heterosexual relationships. Over the past several years, there has increasing attention to the issues of men who are victimized by heterosexual domestic violence, most of which is based on research done that is based on the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) developed by Murray Straus and Richard Gelles. In this current paper, Kimmel addresses the research that suggests men are victimized as often as women from both substantive and methodological perspectives. Through the process, Kimmel also addresses the CTS and raises substantive issues with the continued use of this tool to examine domestic violence.
"Men As Victims of Intimate Violence," by Marc Dubin. (Communities Against Violence Network (CAVNET) June 29, 2004)
As a man who has prosecuted domestic violence, served as Special Counsel to the Violence Against Women Office at the Justice Department, and serves as Executive Director of CAVNET, I want to try to respond to some of the issues raised.
"References Examining Assaults by Women on their Spouses or Male Partners: An Annotated Bibliography," by Martin S. Fiebert. (Department of Psychology, California State University, Long Beach, Last updated: November 2009)
This bibliography examines 271 scholarly investigations: 211 empirical studies and 60 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 365,000.
"Men: Hidden Victims of Domestic Violence," by Benjamin Radford, LiveScience's Bad Science Columnist. (06 December 2007 12:55 pm ET)
When most people think of domestic violence, they think of men abusing women. While that stereotype is often true, many women are also guilty of violence against their partners. It happened just last week when Mary Delgado, a former NFL cheerleader and contestant on the reality TV show "The Bachelor," was arrested in Seminole, Florida, for attacking her fiance Byron Velvick.
"Domestic violence against men: Know the signs, seek help," by The Mayo Clinic Staff.
Domestic violence against men isn't always easy to recognize, but it can be a serious threat. Consider ways to break the cycle. Women are more often the victims of domestic violence ó but domestic violence affects men, too. Understand the signs of domestic violence against men, and know how to get help.