One perpetuating myth about domestic violence is that women are the only victims. This common misconception is damaging in a variety of ways. It can discourage male victims of domestic abuse from speaking out and trivialize their suffering. While statistically women are victims of domestic abuse more often than men, this should not diminish the fact that men are victims as well. Men have as much right as women to come forward, report domestic violence, and seek retribution.
THE SOCIAL STIGMA BEHIND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Throughout history, the media has largely portrayed domestic violence as an act by men against women. Male victims of domestic violence have largely been ignored or unrecognized. The common stigma is that even if a woman abuses a man, he should be “tough” or “strong” enough to withstand the mistreatment without complaint. Therefore, men are less likely to report domestic abuse than women due to embarrassment, lack of supportive services, and fear of ridicule. Women, on the other hand, do not have these restrictions since there is ongoing advocacy against male domestic abuse, including shelters and support groups.
Female abusers are a taboo subject with a marked lack of recognition in society. However, a study by the British Psychological Society found that women are widely more aggressive partners than men. The study asserts that women are more likely to be “intimate terrorists” than men or more physically aggressive. This is an extreme form of controlling behavior in a relationship that involves threats, violence, and intimidation. Other studies find that women demonstrate a desire to control their partners more than men.
While there is a higher prevalence of controlling behaviors in women, there is no difference between men and women when it comes to control and aggression. Violence to men from women may cause less physical harm than the opposite due to size differences, but this should not trivialize the abuse that many men suffer from female partners. As more research sheds light on the existence of female abusers and male domestic violence victims, the social stigma that men cannot be victims may begin to fall away.
Men may also be victims of domestic violence from people other than their female partners. Males can face abuse from other family members or in same-sex relationships. Same-sex relationships are no less violent than heterosexual ones. Men involved in abusive same-sex relationships may be afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation. Women may be somewhat less likely than men to abuse their partners, but the gender gap is much smaller than society believes and acknowledges.
Affects of Domestic Violence on Men
Many people mistakenly believe that women cannot truly cause physical harm to their male partners. However, women may use knives, guns, or boiling water to injure their male partners in domestic abuse cases to make up for size or strength differences. Physical violence in any situation can cause serious and even fatal injuries. Men make up about 30% of intimate homicide victims.
Physical abuse is not the only form of harm men can suffer. Just like women, men can face emotional, mental, and psychological turmoil from an abusive partner. An abusive woman can inflict psychological abuse through constant criticism of her partner, abrasive language, and mental violence. Men can have long-lasting trauma against verbal and mental abuse, suffering negative outcomes such as lowered self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and adverse health affects. Men may not be willing to leave an abusive relationship if they do not see their situations as cases of domestic violence. Breaking the misconception that women are the only victims of domestic violence is the first step in liberating men as the sole perpetrator of from these crimes.