By Chelsea Ann Clark
Every day, there are 20 people per minute in the United States who are becoming victims of physical domestic violence. That’s 1,200 people an hour and 28,800 people a day. By definition domestic violence entails many other areas such as: physical, sexual, stalking, psychological or financial abuse. So what would the statistics look like if we allowed all forms of domestic violence to be included in the definition? Statistic would increase drastically.
Type of Abuse
Physical abuse involves hitting, pinching, shoving, grabbing and etc. It also entails denying an individual medical treatment when in need. Sexual abuse entails forcing sexual actions upon a partner without their consent. Stalking is an obsessive behavior by an individual toward another. This behavior could be both in person or online. Psychological abuse could lead to the victim to feel intimidated, to have a constant fear or forcing them to be isolated from the world around them. Lastly, financial abuse could be viewed as a partner holding money or assets from their partner. Not allowing the victim to have any money or any control over what may be his or hers. The several forms of abuse listed above are all forms of abuse that could occur in a relationship between a male and a female partner.
The power and control wheel shown below shows the different tactics within domestic violence that a victim may encounter.
There are many myths in the world about domestic violence. These myths need to be brought to everyone’s attention. Individuals needs to recognize how absurd some of these “facts” are and be able to differentiate between what is a myth and what is a fact. Some of the statements that are made regarding domestic violence should be pretty recognizable to members of society that they are indeed a myth, however; for some unknown reason individuals don’t recognize them as myths. Some members of society may not fully understand the forms and issues surrounding domestic violence. Individuals may not be fully able to recognize that someone may be becoming a victim of abuse. It is very difficult to recognize that someone is a victim unless they are looking at the situation with a third party perspective. Even then, it is difficult.
Some of these myths included:
- Domestic violence affects only a small percentage of the population and is rare.
- Domestic violence occurs only in poor, uneducated and minority families.
- Alcohol abuse causes domestic violence.
- Domestic violence is usually a one time, isolated occurrence.
- Men who batter are often good fathers and should have joint custody of their children if the couple separates.
- Battered women are masochistic and provoke the abuse. They must like it or they would leave.
Included in the link below are the myths that are commonly misinterpreted to the everyday individual in society. These myths below need to be brought to individuals in societies attention in order to correct these misperceptions on domestic violence for both men and women as the victim. In the link, it also gives an explanation as to why these are indeed myths. This cite provides statistics that will support their evidence that is provided.
Read More: Fast Facts on Domestic Violence
How do you know if you are experiencing domestic violence?
There are several triggers that may not be recognizable to someone who is in an abusive relationship. Someone who is in an abusive relationship may not even consider what they are experiencing as abuse. Generally, the victim’s perspective while in the relationship will change once they have left the abusive relationship that they have been in. Some things that should be kept in mind when pondering if you are a victim include but are not limited to: are you being blamed? Do you feel controlled? Do you feel isolated? Do you have a constant fear of being around a particular individual? Do you make excuses about what you are doing? Do you find yourself lying to protect yourself? Are you given an allowance? Do you constantly live in fear? Do you feel abandoned? If you are feeling any of these, you may be a victim of domestic violence.
Let’s take a look at the different phases of domestic violence and the progression within each of the steps.
- Verbal abuse, throwing objects, threats, anger
- Pushing or restraining
- Slapping, punching, slapping, biting
- Hitting, choking, beating, using a weapon(s)
- Rationalizing for the abuse. Constantly apologizing for what they have done to you.
After the apology, the honeymoon phase begins. Gifts, apologies and showing affection will occur. This will happen for a short amount time. But it generally does not stay. Abuse will more than likely begin again.
Abuse can happen to anyone. There are no stipulations to who is more likely to be a victim of domestic violence. Race, socioeconomic status, religion, gender do not predict who will be a victim. Becoming a victim happens for multiple reasons, but there are not specific identifies that makes someone more likely to become abused by their partner.
Differentiating between sex and gender
Society has constructed almost all individuals to believe that they are supposed to behave in a particular manner based on their sex and gender. According to Carl (2010), sex is defined as, “the biological makeup of a male or female” (p. 321). Carl defines gender as, “the expectations of behavior and attitude that a society considers proper for male and females” (2010, p. 318). Sex and gender are used interchangeably, but they most certainly shouldn’t be. They are two different concepts that are used to discuss two different ideas.
Both men and women strive to behave in the ways that society has taught them to behave. They strive to fulfill societies expectations by engaging in the behaviors that have been assigned to them by their sex and gender. If an individual in society fails to behave in a way that society sees as normal, then that individual(s) will be look down upon and be viewed as abnormal.
Men often struggle with this more often. Men need to feel power. They need to feel in control. They need to feel that they have a purpose such as a leader, the breadwinner and be viewed as someone who is strong. Some men go through life with these notions in mind. Having these constant thoughts and ideas don’t always allow them to behave or feel in the way that they need too. Men don’t want to be associated with the term of victim because it isn’t seen by society as manly. Victim is more or less a passive aggressive concept and men are not viewed as passive.
What does it mean to be man in society?
For both males and females, we have been socially constructed since day one to behave a certain way and to be involved in certain activities. When a baby is born, boys will be showered with gifts that are blue and little girls will be showered with pink gifts. Society has socially constructed individuals to associate blue with boys and pink with girls. Throughout school, boys are associated with playing contact sports such as football and wrestling. Boys are also directed toward classes such as wood shop or technology classes. Girls are encouraged to participated in dance or cheerleading. Girls are encouraged to enroll in classes such as cooking or sewing. As kids are growing up, they are growing up with the ideas that boys should be presidents, doctors, a construction worker, laborer or an athlete. Girls are taught to aspire to careers such as teachers, nurses or to be a stay at home mom. These “rules” that society has constructed are found in an unwritten handbook (that obviously doesn’t exist) that society has socially constructed us to believe. These norms that have been implemented make individuals in society feel that they need to behave in those certain ways because of their sex or gender. We consider these norms as normal.
The picture below I believe displays exactly what it means to be a male and a woman based on societies perceptions. This man is displaying characteristics such as strong, built, muscular and a hero. He is posing in a way that is portraying that he is powerful and unstoppable. The woman is being viewed as the nurturer. She is seen taking care of several children. She is displayed as multi-tasking. She is taking care of children and it appears to be assisting another with a math test. Women must be multi-taskers. They are nurturers. They are soft, petite and caring. This image depicts how society defines what it means to be a man and what it means to be a female.
Included below is a link. It is the trailer to, “The Mask We Live in”. This short 3-minute clip, illustrates perfectly how men feel in society in comparison to how they are taught to behave.
Introducing Violence Against Men
When individuals hear the words domestic violence, they automatically assume that women are the victims and men are the perpetrators. However, men do experience violence just as women do. Women perpetuate violence on men. 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence. 1 in 7 men have become victims of severe physical violence at least once. 1 in 18 men have become victims of stalking at least once in their lifetime. 1 in 59 have experienced rape in their lifetime.
Think about it. You are in a classroom of 100 students. 60 students are males and the other 40 are females. 15 of those males have been victims of some form of physical violence. 8 males have been a victim of severe physical violence. About 3 of those men have been victims of stalking. And at least one of those males have been a victim of rape. We never really stop and think about this. We never have these thoughts because we never associate males with being the victims.
The statistics above provide a visual to represent that men are victims of abuse. Violence against men occurs not as often as women, but it does happen. Society needs to recognize that men are victims too. In reality, I’m sure these statistics prove that violence against men happens more often than you or society realized.
Do you think violence against men should be a topic that is discussed more openly?
Violence against men most certainly needs to be discussed. It is a topic that doesn’t seem to be apparent. It’s a head turner to most individuals and it is never taken seriously. Society will scoff at men who disclose being abused, but they won’t for women who admit to being a victim? This is where the problem comes in. As a society, we are slowly making progress towards forming equality between both males and females, but holding standards differently for men and women is the foundation of why inequality is still existing. Violence against men is just as a serious topic as violence against women. Both men and women experience the same forms of violence. Men and women can both experience physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial abuse. The severities of abuse are potentially the same. The only difference is societies perceptions toward the sex and genders of the victim.
Included in the link below are statistics that need to be read by members of society. Violence against men happens more often then we believe. These statistics are a must read.
Read More: Men Experiencing Domestic Violence
Included below is a clip that was filmed in a court room. The woman had perpetuated physical violence on her male partner. The woman severely had beaten this man. This woman had the nerve to sit in the court room and have a smirk on her face while the judge was looking over the police report about the extreme abuse that had been perpetuated upon him. Take a closer look at the judge’s reaction as well as the woman.
The link below speaks to a male victim about the abuse that he faced. The audience laughs at him while telling the story. The head of the show doesn’t handle the audience’s reaction too well. Take a look.
If you viewed the above clip, that is exactly how most individuals in society respond to violence against men. The judge responded exactly how someone should respond to a male who has been a victim of abuse. However, why did the woman act as if what she did wasn’t a crime? Could it be because of how society has socially constructed individuals to believe how a man should behave versus how a woman should behave? Could it be because men are not allowed to discuss their feelings, cause if they do, they are viewed as weak. Could it be that violence against men isn’t discussed enough, so when it is, it is considered a joke? These are very important questions to ask.
Let’s break this down further. Let say the male in the courtroom was the perpetrator and the woman was the victim. Nobody in that courtroom would be viewing the violence that was perpetrated as a joke. Everyone would be very serious and be taken the crime that had just occurred as very serious.
Do you see any differences between the situations? Cause I don’t. The absolute only difference is the sex and genders of the victim in both of the situations. Which leads to the audience to have a different reaction to the abuse that has been perpetuated on the victim.
But sex and gender do not matter. It does not matter that one is a male and one is a female. Abuse is abuse. Abuse happens to both males and females. Both males and females can be victims.
Why are men so reluctant to discussing and disclosing the abuse that has been perpetuated upon them?
This is the question that many individuals in society may be asking. However, it not crystal clear. Society has set specific standards on how a man should behave. A man should be brave, courageous, strong, determined, the breadwinner and be very powerful. So does societies attitudes and perceptions of masculinity influence if a male discloses his victimization? It most certainly does play a factor. When and if men disclose their abuse, they will carefully choose their words. They will identify as a victim in a way that it is still considered to be “manly”. More or less men do not wish to use the word victim because it could take away their masculinity and what that entails. During the disclosing, men will hold this way of staying cool and calm. They will act that their abuse isn’t a big deal. That being a victim of abuse isn’t a serious crime.
Men struggle with disclosing their abuse because it is not how they were taught to behave. Men grew up in a world where they had to behave in a particular way otherwise they would get called names such as: gay, faggot, wimp, “acting girly”. All of these words are a way for society to scoff at men for who are not following their assigned gender roles. Men grow up hearing the phrases, “Man up”, “You’re ok, rub some dirt on it” and “stop crying”. All of these indicate that men are not allowed to openly discuss their feelings. Men are taught to keep their feelings inside. They are taught that is weak to discuss how they are feeling. This is where the problem lies. Men are taught this and viewed in this particular manner so of course they are not going to discuss what has been perpetuated upon them.
Below is a clip discussing violence against men. This man contacted the police but a few weeks later the situation turned for the worse.
Several obstacles can arise when a man discloses his abuse. Men, like anyone else, struggle with fear, anger and embarrassment when disclosing abuse what has occurred upon them. Disclosing abuse for anyone is not easy. It is very hard and troublesome to recognize that you are indeed a victim and that you need help. It is a very hard conversation to have but first it is harder to admit that an individual is in trouble and needs assistance.
A man walks into a domestic violence agency. He is talking to an employee about the abuse that has happened to him. The male explains the situation in great detail and explains that his wife is the perpetrator. Somehow through twists and turns of the situation, the employee in the agency makes an accusation toward the male that he is not the victim of the situation but rather the batterer. Violence against men isn’t viewed as a serious matter as it is for violence against women. Violence against men is taken seriously but there will always be some discrepancy for how individuals view this matter.
Some individuals in the agencies that work with victims of domestic violence may not fully be able to wrap their mind around the fact then men are victims of abuse too. Since men do not disclose their abuse as much as women, these employees may not be able to respond as quickly as they do for women when they have a male client. Employees and individuals who work with domestic violence victims need to be able to work with both males and females.
Men do not want to be associated with the term “victim”
When disclosing abuse that has been victimized on a man, most men are not comfortable with using the word victim. While discussing the abuse that has been imposed on them, some men generally find themselves using terms that would still make them look cool to society and are parallel to masculine characteristics. Men will change the phrasing of the disclosure so they are still viewed in the way that society has constructed them to behave. They admit that the women are the abuser but yet they are not the abuser. Generally, men look to use phrases that will allow them to look strong and cool to the eyes of all individuals.
These words listed, are how men desire to be viewed by other members of society.
What theories could potentially explain why males hide their victimization?
There could be a wide range of theories and theorists that could be used to contribute to this typology. W.E.B Dubois, Goffman, Cooley, Foucault, Collins, Weber, Bronfenbrenner, Freud, Bandura and Vygotsky are a few off hand that could be used and implemented in order to discuss the issues surrounding on men not disclosing their abuse. Dubois, Goffman and Bandura are the three theorists that I will go in depth with in order to explain violence against men. Dubois’s concept of double-consciousness could be used to explain why men are hesitant to disclose the victimization upon them. Dubois uses his work of double-consciousness to explain race, however; I believe double consciousness could be used to explain the hesitation toward disclosing abuse. Double cons ciousness is viewing yourself based on how you believe other individuals see you. An individual is constantly fighting with who they are and who they are in the eyes of other individuals. Men are fighting the thoughts of feeling like a victim and the thoughts that society has about them that they are supposed to be strong, brave, courageous and etc. It’s an internal battle within oneself and it is a constant battle that never seems to have a solution. Erving Goffman’s theory of presentation of self could be used to explain further why men may not necessarily disclose the abuse they have been perpetuated upon them. The way individuals present themselves changes depending on which reference group they are interacting with in that moment. Males are socially constructed to behave in a particular way due to the gender roles that I have previously discussed. Men will change the way they are behaving based on who they are talking too. So men may not discuss the abuse that has been perpetrated upon them because that is not the expectations that they supposed to obey by. Bandura’s Social Learning theory could also explain men’s attitudes behind disclosing the abuse that has been perpetuated upon them. When a little boy is growing up, he is learning how to behave based on the other males in their lives or the men in society that are viewed as powerful such as police officers and firefighters. The young boys will learn to behave based on imitating and mocking the behaviors of the powerful men in their lives. Learning how to behave based on how others are behaving will explain why men may struggle with disclosing the abuse that has been perpetuated upon them.
If you are a man and a victim of domestic violence, there is always someone there to listen
If you are in immediate danger as a victim, call 911. Do not hesitate. There are shelters and hotlines made available for men who have been victims of abuse.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (located in the U.S. and Canada)
ManKind Initiative: 01823 334244 (United Kingdom)
AMEN: 046 902 3710 (Ireland)
One in Three Campaign (located in Australia): there are a variety of numbers available on this hotline
A few tips to keep in mind when you are dealing with an abusive partner:
- Leave if possible
- Never retaliate
- Get evidence of the abuse
- Keep a mobile phone, evidence of the abuse, and other important documents close
- Obtain advice from a domestic violence program
Why don’t men leave?
It is easier said than done.
- Wanting to protect your children
- Feelings of shame and embarrassment
- Religious beliefs
- There are not any resources made available
- You are in a homosexual relationship and there hasn’t been any disclosing regarding your sexuality
- Simply the victim is in denial
These are just a few of the reasons behind why men do not leave their relationship or more simply, they not be able to leave due to the traumatic circumstances that they may be living in.
For some more information on this matter, take a look at the link below. It is here to help you.
Read More: Help for Abused Men
Be sure to develop a safety plan. Be very specific when thinking about when and how to leave. Included in the link below are some questions and thoughts that need to be kept in mind when thinking about leaving an abusive partner.
Speaking out about your abuse
There are several websites out there are that made for men to talk about their abuse. Some of them include Menweb: Help for Abused Men, Menstuff: Domestic Violence – Another Perspective and Domestic Violence Resources for Men Blog. These blogs should be used to discuss the abuse that has been committed against you. Share your stories. Opening up about the violence that has to you, could encourage other men who are suffering from abuse to share their stories. Become a leader and make a change for yourself. If you are needing additional help or want a more in depth explanation of what each of these websites entails, click the link below.
Words of Encouragement
The first and most important step in being a victim of abuse is admitting that you are a victim. Admitting that abuse has occurred and that you need help is the first but foremost the hardest step there is in the process. Admitting it out loud to yourself may be the first step in overcoming the abuse. Being a victim and admitting the abuse is not an easy situation, however; it may get easier as you are working your way through the treatment process. Looking for a friend, family member, colleague, counselor, therapist, professor or an acquaintance will be very helpful through the process as well. Finding someone who can be there for you through the situation is unbelievably important and it can make such an impact on the process. Find someone who can used as your rock, the one you vent too, the one who makes you feel that everything will be alright and utilize them. Depend on them and rely on them through the difficult time that you are about to experience. Recognize that disclosing the abuse could be scary, but the end solution will be rewarding. In the end, you are starting fresh. You are starting a new path for yourself and a new life for yourself. You made the necessary changes to your life and it should be such a great accomplishment.
Carl, J. (2010). Think Sociology. New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Durfee, A. (2011). “I’m not a Victim, She’s an Abuser”: Masculinity, Victimization, and Protection Orders. Gender & Society. 25 (3): 316-334.
Lemert, C. (2016). Social Theory: The Multicultural, Global, and Classic Readings. Colorado: Westview Press.
Robinson, L. & Segal, J. (2016). Help for Abused Men: Escaping Domestic Violence by Women or Domestic Partners. HelpGuide. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/help-for-abused-men.htm
Prosecuting Attorney. (2016). Domestic Violence. Retrieved from http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/domviol/plan.htm