When most think of domestic violence, they think of men abusing women. But the opposite may be true in some cases, and while there is not the same amount of awareness of these cases, awareness is growing. Many men who are abused are embarrassed or even afraid to come forward and alert the authorities. Women may also feel embarrassed or afraid to come forward, but the support system for abused women is greater than that provided for men.
There may even be instances of men who fear suspicion that they abused the woman they are reporting as having abused them. They may think that others will think that the abuse went both ways, and view them as at-fault instead of the abusive woman. Many women who are accused of abuse subsequently claim abuse at the hands of the man accusing them, whether the allegations against them are true or not. As a result, even fewer men come forward thinking that nobody would believe their allegations.
Countless stories tell of men who are physically abused by women calling the police only to be arrested themselves when the police arrive. One story tells of a man being driven to the hospital by the police after his wife struck him with a frying pan as he slept; the wife was not arrested. Many men who experience violence from their wives during marriage are advised not to bring up such incidents in their divorce proceedings because the court may consider it an act of violence against the wife. In these cases, perception takes center stage and allows women to get away with abuse while men pay the unjust consequences.
Many victims of domestic violence against men are hurt by emotional attacks rather than physical abuse, although the latter does exist and may go unreported. Men who are demeaned on a constant basis may develop deep emotional scarring that may have long-lasting effects. Examples of emotional abuse directed towards men include calling them cowardly, impotent, or remarking on their lack of social or professional status.
There is little data on domestic violence directed against men, which many attribute to the failure of many abused men to report the abuse. Know your resources if you’re a victim of abuse and violence. S.A.F.E. is an organization whose name stands for ‘Stop Abuse for Everyone’ and focuses on straight and gay men, and lesbian women. Talk to an attorney if you are afraid of how the police will perceive your situation, but if in dire need of help, call emergency personnel.