If you’re a man (or woman) 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 a 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.
DEALING WITH AN ABUSIVE PARTNER
- Leave if possible. Be aware of any signs that may trigger a violent response from your spouse or partner and be ready to leave quickly. If you need to stay to protect your children, call the emergency services. The police have an obligation to protect you and your children, just as they do a female victim.
- Never retaliate. An abusive woman or partner will often try to provoke you into retaliating or using force to escape the situation. If you do retaliate, you’ll almost certainly be the one who is arrested and/or removed from your home.
- Get evidence of the abuse. Report all incidents to the police and get a copy of each police report. Keep a journal of all abuse with a clear record of dates, times, and any witnesses. Include a photographic record of your injuries and make sure your doctor or hospital also documents your injuries. Remember, medical personnel is unlikely to ask if a man has been a victim of domestic violence, so it’s up to you to ensure the cause of your injuries is documented.
- Keep a mobile phone, evidence of the abuse, and other important documents close at hand. If you and your children have to leave instantly in order to escape the abuse, you’ll need to take with you evidence of the abuse and important documents, such as a passport and driver’s license. It may be safer to keep these items outside of the home.
- Obtain advice from a domestic violence program or legal aid resource about getting a restraining order or order of protection against your spouse and, if necessary, seeking temporary custody of your children.
Domestic violence and abuse can have a serious physical and psychological impact on both you and your children. The first step to stopping the abuse is to reach out. Talk to a friend, family member, or someone else you trust, or call a domestic violence helpline.
In our growing-up years, we teach boys not to hit their sisters, but we don’t teach girls not to hit their brothers. Admitting the problem and seeking help doesn’t mean you have failed as a man or as a husband. You are not to blame, and you are not weak. As well as offering a sense of relief and providing some much-needed support, sharing details of your abuse can also be the first step in building a case against your abuser and protecting your kids.
Talk to a friend, family member, or someone else you trust, or call a domestic violence helpline. Call 1-888-DV LINKS or The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or your local law enforcement (IN AN EMERGENCY CALL 911).