The Forgotten Victims of Domestic Abuse
Author: Davorian Ware
When conversations of domestic violence come about they typically revolve around women. While women comprise the majority of domestic violence cases (1 in 4 experience it), domestic violence is still a pervasive problem for men, with 1 in 7 experiencing some form of domestic violence. Determining the rate of domestic violence against males can be difficult, so this number might actually be higher. Men may be reluctant to report their abuse or seek help due to embarrassment, fear of disbelief, society's view that men cannot be victims of domestic abuse, and/or fear of being accused of perpetrating the violence themselves. Another issue around men and domestic violence is that even in a society that is getting more comfortable discussing personal issues in a public forum there is still a problem with victim blaming. If men come forward to report abuse, they are often looked at as being able to deal with domestic violence on their own, are told they must have done something to provoke the abuse, or are brushed off because of the belief that men are not real men if they can't handle the abuse. Many people are unwilling to accept the unilateral abuse of men by women. This is a stereotype that society needs to break.
The same barriers imprison men in abusive relationships as women. For example, sometimes there are children involved. Just like women, men might stay in an abusive relationship to protect the children or to keep them in their lives. Children are occasionally used as hostages and a husband or boyfriend my stay so that the children aren't harmed. And just like women, sometimes the male's partner will have ownership over things such as shelter and transportation. This puts the male in a bind if they try to leave. It has been found that the services provided specifically to men by domestic violence agencies are limited when compared to the services offered to women. Men often have nowhere to turn. Lastly, men might have a strong desire to hold the family together.
A few points that writer Beri Weinbeger from the Huffington Post makes in: police, resources, and emasculation. There is an issue with law enforcement, as well as many legal positions like lawyers, judges, etc. where they tend to not see women as abusers. This means that people who provide protection are either reluctant or outright resist assisting men in these relationships. For example, it has been discovered that female petitioners are granted temporary protective orders the majority of the time they petition one, while male petitioners are granted temporary protective orders at an extremely low rate. There is a "sex-based bias" regarding protective orders in domestic violence cases. Second, it is difficult, if not impossible, for men to find shelter or other resources that they need to leave. NPR reports that a study done at Bridgewater State University revealed that only 8% of the males that called the Domestic Violence Hotline found their information useful. Worse yet, 16% of males that called were either dismissed or made fun of.
Furthermore, the belief that a person's physical state can overcome their psychological state is damaging and ignores one of the biggest reasons people stay in these relationships: love. One of the most powerful elements of humanity is our ability to empathize. It is how we grow through science, economics, and history. In a study quoted by "Psychology Today," many victims see their partner as ‘dependable.' There is a belief, a love, that drives many victims to see the good in their partner regardless of any horrific abuse that occurs. Men may think "my wife had a rough childhood, a difficult year, or something else but she will eventually pull stop the abusive behavior." Men are equally as susceptible as women to having love as a barrier.
We subject men to the same abuse and isolation, sometimes worse when we look at them as being an anomaly to abuse. Men are sometimes ridiculed for coming forth about domestic violence. Even our lawmakers, like in the case of Terry Crews, mock the notion of a man being a victim, denigrating his claims thus pushing men further into isolation and perpetual abuse. Each victim should be seen as an individual and helped accordingly regardless of gender.
Ashleigh Diserio Consulting works with individuals and organizations, assisting them in gleaning insight into a person’s life, motivation, and past and future behavior, so certain areas of behavior can be understood with a high degree of accuracy. We provide services in the areas of criminal and intelligence investigations, management support, threat assessment, insider threat support, and education and training.