Opening the Conversation: Men and Domestic Violence
Men being victims of domestic violence in relationships might not be a common topic for some, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur. Sometimes men in violent relationships might not know that they are in one based on their previous view that men should be able to handle these types of relationships. Some men see that they are in a violent relationship but might be afraid to report it. Below are some questions and answers to keep in mind about domestic violence:
What does domestic violence look like for male victims?
Domestic violence for male victims can look the same as any violent relationship. It can be:
Punching, kicking, slapping, scratching, throwing objects, and using/showing weapons.
Yelling, screaming, threatening, swearing.
Stonewalling, isolation, gaslighting, constant criticism, belittling, devaluation.
Destroying possessions, controlling money.
Any action intended to cause hurt or fear of a sexual nature, such as sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Why do some men who are victims of domestic violence don’t report?
There are many reasons why some men who are victims of domestic violence don’t report it. For some men, there’s a strong belief that they are supposed to fight back when dealing with any physical challenges. Other reasons can consist of:
- Men are sometimes afraid of being either ridiculed or accused of being the abuser.
- Some men cannot recognize that they are victims; they are hesitant to reach out for help.
- There’s a fear of not being believed.
- There’s also a fear that reporting abuse would make them seem less masculine according to some people’s standards of masculinity.
What are some obstacles men might face in leaving an abusive relationship?
For any abusive relationship, it can be tough for the victim to leave. Even though some people might think leaving should be more simple for men, there are obstacles that men might face also. Some may consist of:
- They are afraid that their partner will retaliate.
- They are in love with their partner or feel that they have invested so much time into that relationship.
- There can also be financial or social barriers preventing them from leaving, especially when they live with their partner.
- Their partner may have either slowly isolated them from friends and family.
- Sometimes children might be involved.
How to support men who are victims of domestic violence?
Before thinking of other ways to support, we must first start by believing them. Believing victims and survivors of abuse and domestic violence is one of the most important and compassionate ways to support them. Other ways to help are:
- Identify options and resources for them.
- Emphasize that the abuse is not their fault as sometimes it is common for the victim to blame themselves.
- Support them by showing that you are there for them. Be there for them in any way that you can but never get yourself directly involved. It is just as essential to keep yourself safe.
What can you do if you experience domestic violence?
It is not easy for men to take the next step in reporting that they have experienced domestic violence or are in an abusive relationship. However, it’s important to get all of the help and support that you can get. If you ever have experienced domestic violence, you can report it to a police officer, doctor, or any other professional that you feel can help. Finding help can make men sometimes feel like they have failed as a partner or man. Reporting does not make you a failure, and your safety is important. You can also:
- Break up safely Over text, phone call, or in public with a friend. Try to avoid being alone with your partner when breaking up.
- Tell people for safety. You don’t have to be alone in this.
- Rely on loved ones who support you to build you up.
- Create a safety plan: A safety plan can outline how you can respond when you and your children face violence. Some questions that you can have in mind are:
- Is my child aware of where to go?
- Are my pets safe?
- Is there a family member or friend that I can go to?
- Is there a list of phone numbers I need to memorize in case of an emergency?
Though this article mainly focuses on men, violence in relationships can affect any gender. Those who may have experienced domestic violence should have the resources and support they need regardless of their gender. As for men, know that you are supported, and please don’t ever be afraid or too ashamed to report.