It's unfortunate that we ignore the 25% - 35% of domestic violence victims who are male
Let me ask you a question. If a man was in an abusive relationship, if he was being slapped and punched by his girlfriend or wife, insulted and demeaned, is that domestic violence? What if he’s 6’2″ tall and she’s only 5’5″? What if she threatens him, threatens to hurt their children or his family if he leaves her? Is that domestic violence?
Yes. male victims of domestic violence do exist, but how many times do we hear about it? Men are raised to be strong and silent, to be macho. What man would admit to anyone that a woman is beating them up, or psychologically abusing them? Boys don’t cry.
Statistically, we hear about female victims of domestic violence. There are thousands of websites dedicated to helping women who are battered and abused, fundraisers, marathons, concerts, marches and legislation aimed only at women who are in abusive relationships. I’ve written extensively about surviving domestic abuse and have spoken to hundreds of women who left relationships where they were the victims of violence and terror. I am guilty of ignoring, not purposely mind you, the millions of men who are victims of domestic violence.
In a press release dated December 14th, 2011, the CDC listed the following statistics for male victims of violence:
- About 1 in 7 men has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
- One in 19 men has experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
- Almost 53 percent of male victims experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before age of 25
- More than one-quarter of male rape victims were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.
The CDC study does not state whether the abusers are male or female, but it stands to reason that men are being abused by women. The LGBT community suffers domestic violence as well, because abuse knows no gender or orientation. Abuse is about control and power, period.
The good news is that people are starting to understand the dynamics of abuse, and men have places to turn if they are in a violent relationship. But will they? When we teach our sons to just “suck it up,” or “crying is for girls,” what are the odds that a man will admit to being victimized by a spouse or partner?
If you are a man in an abusive relationship, I am posting resources at the end of this article. I am also apologizing. Speaking for myself, I didn’t mean to ignore you. To be honest, I think the Violence Against Women Act needs to be relabeled the Violence Against Men and Women Act. When Congress needs to reauthorize it again, it must offer assistance to both men and women who are being abused.
This is not a gray issue, it’s very simple. Batterers come in all shapes and sizes, and batterers can be male or female. It’s time to help men who are bleeding and broken find their way, it’s time to embrace men who might feel ashamed or less than masculine and say the most masculine thing you can do is get help. Men do cry, men do bleed and men can be victims of abuse.
For help via the Internet, please visit http://dahmw.org/
For help via phone, please call 1-888-743-5754
Thank you to DAHMW and the CDC for resources used in this article.