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Bringing Awareness to Male Victims
of Domestic Violence (Part I)
Publisher Jason Hardin Sheds Light on a Dark Issue
When the term "Domestic Violence" is mentioned, our imagination quickly and easily can paint a vivid picture
of a woman being physically attacked by a male spouse.  If a woman claims to be a victim of domestic
violence, it is the nature of many of us to not just believe her, but to also show compassion and even offer
some sort of help.  Not to dismiss or understate the horrible experience of the many female victims out there,
but how should men who claim to be victims of domestic violence be treated?  Though the National Coalition
Against Domestic Violence documents that 1 in 5 women are victims of domestic violence, it also states that
1 in 7 men are victims of domestic violence.  In other words, these numbers suggest that a woman is only
around 6% more likely to be a victim of domestic violence than a man, which isn't that much of a difference.

If men are victimized by domestic violence almost as much as women, then why don't services, advocacy, or
even the justice system reflect that?  Personally from experience, I can think of at least 3 major reasons why
services and compassion for battered men are so hard to find:

  • Not all men know they are victims of abuse.  A lot of people don't realize that "abuse" does not
    always mean physical violence.  In all actuality, "domestic violence" is really more about one's
    manipulation for control than being physically violent.  The abuse can instead be verbal, mental,
    emotional, or even financial.  Some very common examples of these other forms of abuse include
    constant insults, monopolizing someone's time, isolating someone, using the children against them, or
    keeping someone dependent.  Basically, and technique that can be used in an attempt to control your
    thoughts and/or actions to fit their personal wants or needs, can and should be considered as abuse.

  • Many men do not report the abuse.  Once a man identifies that he is being abused, there may still
    be many reasons he refuses to report it.  I feel that the most common reason men stay in abusive
    relationships, are because of shame, pride, and fear.  Most men have the idea that they shouldn't
    need anyone's help in dealing with their relationship and many men don't even want people to know
    they're even having relationship problems, let alone are dealing with abuse.  Some may even equate
    a failed relationship as being a failure, and stay out of some neurotic need to "make it work".  Fear
    plays a major factor when the victim has no idea of what's going to happen if the leave.  It can be
    anything from the idea of loneliness that might be scary, to something as extreme as the thought of
    never seeing your children again.   As with women victims, when children are involved, it can feel
    almost impossible for a man to leave an abusive partner.  

  • Men are not always believed.  Identifying that you are being abused and actually reporting it, is still
    not always enough to escape the pain and trauma of an abusive relationship.  In an article by the
    National Parents Organization, a survey was shown that stated men who called the police in a
    domestic violence situation, was arrested 26% of the time, while the abusive partner is only arrested
    17% of the time.  This simple statistic alone, already shows the highly volatile situation an abused man
    is put in and another reason why he may reconsider reporting it.

So whats a guy to do?

Knowing at least some of the reasons why male victims of domestic violence are far too-often overlooked,
we can better explore ways to help men protect themselves as well as locate the appropriate services in
emergency situations.  Perhaps the most basic way to escape an unhealthy relationship, is to use the
following Identify, Respond, and Retreat technique:

Identify whether or not you are in a victim.  Like I said, domestic violence isn't always about
violence, but it is always about control.  If you find yourself with someone who seems to want to be in charge
of what you do, how you feel, and where you go, you may need to reassess your relationship with that
person.   Remember, someone wanting to help you is a good thing but wanting to change you, is not.

Respond to your spouse.  Never forget that proper communication is the key to any successful
relationship.  If there is a communication breakdown, then it must be repaired in order for there to be a
healthy relationship.  Express how certain behaviors make you feel and pay close attention to the response
you get.  Anyone that really cares about you will respect how you feel and attempt to correct it accordingly.  
If you find your feelings completely dismissed or undermined, then you are looking at the foundation of an
unhealthy relationship.  If effective communication cannot be restored and maintained, then the relationship
shouldn't be.

Retreat!  Once you have identified that there is a problem and realize that it cannot be addressed
through effective communication, you need to RUN!!!  Seriously, anything that can't be repaired is
guaranteed to get worse.  Admitting having made a mistake is sometimes one of the hardest things to do,
especially when it comes to love, however not letting that mistake go as soon as possible can make life
much harder in a long run.

Thought this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring the plight of male victims of domestic
violence, it is definitely the beginning of a many very important discussions on the matter.  If you or someone
you know need help dealing with a potential unhealthy relationship and live in the Pasadena area, contact
Shepherd's Door at (626) 765-9967
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