Recognizing the Signs and Getting Out Safely
While the majority of domestic violence victims are women, abuse of men happens far more often than you’d probably expect. Typically, men are physically stronger than women but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to escape the violence or the relationship. An abused man faces a shortage of resources, skepticism from police, and major legal obstacles, especially when it comes to gaining custody of his children from an abusive mother. No matter your age, occupation, or sexual orientation, though, you can overcome these challenges and escape the abuse.
Understanding domestic violence against men
If you’re a man in an abusive relationship, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. It happens to men from all cultures and all walks of life. Figures suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence are male. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse by women because they feel embarrassed, or they fear they won’t be believed, or worse, that police will assume that since they’re male they are the perpetrator of the violence and not the victim.
An abusive wife or partner may hit, kick, bite, punch, spit, throw things, or destroy your possessions. To make up for any difference in strength, she may attack you while you’re asleep or otherwise catch you by surprise. She may also use a weapon, such as a gun or knife, or strike you with an object, abuse or threaten your children, or harm your pets. Of course, domestic abuse is not limited to violence.
Your spouse or partner may also:
- Verbally abuse you, belittle you, or humiliate you in front of friends, colleagues, or family, or on social media sites.
- Be possessive, act jealous, or harass you with accusations of being unfaithful.
- Take away your car keys or medications, try to control where you go and who you see.
- Try to control how you spend money or deliberately default on joint financial obligations.
- Make false allegations about you to your friends, employer, or the police, or find other ways to manipulate and isolate you.
- Threaten to leave you and prevent you from seeing your kids if you report the abuse.
Why men don’t leave
Many people have trouble understanding why a woman who is being abused by her husband or boyfriend doesn’t simply just leave him. When the roles are reversed, and the man is the victim of the abuse, people are even more bemused. However, anyone who’s been in an abusive relationship knows that it’s never that simple. Ending a relationship, even an abusive one, is rarely easy.
You may feel that you have to stay in the relationship because:
- You want to protect your children
- You feel ashamed
- Your religious beliefs
- There’s a lack of resources
- You’re in a same sex relationship but haven’t come out to family or friends, and are afraid your partner will out you
- You’re in denial