When we hear the phrases, domestic abuse or domestic violence, we naturally think that it is the female in the relationship that is being abused, and to some extent I can understand this. I mean after all, of all the cases of domestic violence or abuse that are reported to authorities, two thirds of them are women.
This means that over a third are men, and in truth that is just the tip of the iceberg. That’s for the simple reason that men are unwilling to report domestic abuse/violence to the police, and they’re unlikely to seek help when they are suffering in a relationship where their female partner is either violently or mentally abusing them.
It’s a myth that women of all types and quite often the most unsuspecting of women cannot be violent to their husbands or partners. Being violent is not the sole domain of men. Women can also be violent or abusive in relationships. These beliefs that society has manufactured over the years need to be broken down and then we may be able to find out the true figure of just how many men are living a nightmare in a violent or abusive relationship.
The stigma surrounding men that live in a violent or abusive relationship is huge. It stops men from coming forward and opening up, and telling somebody that they’re being abused. This is for a multitude of reasons. The biggest is usually because of embarrassment and the judgement they will receive from narrow minded people with the obvious comment such as you let a woman beat you up or control or mentally abuse you etc, and I’m sure many men at that point will be told to man up.
The problem is if you have been raised to respect people and not necessarily fight back as so many of us have, then if a woman hits you, it’s a situation that in all honestly you will find difficult to deal with. You won’t hit back because we have always been told not to hit a woman and that is entirely right, but it also goes the other way too. Women should not be hitting men, but it will open the doors for your partner to take it to another level and continue with abuse and violence for the simple fact that they know you are unlikely to report it or seek help for fear of embarrassment or being judged as weak.
Many years ago I was in a relationship that was violent and abusive. Looking back, all the signs were there for me to see, but I was quite honestly oblivious to them. It’s a gradual process that is often calculated and the control that is being used is small steps that you don’t notice, but it gradually builds.
It can start with maybe a certain amount of putting you down in front of your friends, but in today’s world that’s considered to be banter. It’s not banter. It will make you start to question yourself. Gradually you are told the clothes you are wearing are not suitable and you will be told that you should start wearing this, that or the other. Money starts to be withdrawn and the finances of the relationship are in the hands of one person, the abuser. You are not allowed to have a bank card and you are almost at the point where you are given pocket money even though you are earning and actually have a right to know what your joint finances are and how much money you have. It can also be that you are faced with constant accusations of where have you been, who have you been with etc, when you know that you are as faithful as the day is long. It is all a systematic way of breaking you down.
Eventually your self-esteem and confidence are at their lowest and this is where for me the mental abuse started to move to a different level. You are made to feel worthless and you start to feel very vulnerable. The final part of the abuse will move on to physical violence and yes this was the case for myself, but by then I was under such enormous control of the other person in the relationship that I didn’t think it was unusual. In fact I think I was just accepting it as normal. It took me years, and I might add a lot courage to leave the relationship, but I did. I dread to think what the final outcome would have been if I’d stayed.
At this point most men, because of the way society approaches men who are in an abusive, violent relationships, have no idea how to change it or open up to anyone for fear of being rejected as stupid and that feeling of embarrassment.
When this all happened to me there wasn’t any support groups or health professionals to turn too, but thankfully times have changed and if you go to the police or authorities they will now take you seriously and treat you in a sensitive way. Of course sometimes it is difficult to maybe go to the police for fear of reprisal from the other person in the relationship, and abusers can be very clever and conniving in making themselves look like the victim and making out you are the abuser.
There are also charities now such as the Mankind initiative who can help you to break free and give you options to move forward.
Finally the government is also taking male abuse seriously. The Home Office is funding a men’s advice line which is a confidential helpline for men suffering from domestic abuse. Family and friends can also use and phone on behalf of the person being abused or get advice to possibly help their loved one. The government is also introducing a bill that will define for the first time what domestic abuse is.
Yes, finally society, authorities, and more importantly government in 2019 have accepted that men get abused mentally, sexually, physically, economically and emotionally. They are finally stepping up and trying to encourage men to come forward and free themselves from a toxic relationship and seek help.
The statistics are actually very frightening. 1in 6 men will suffer some form of domestic abuse in their lives, but only one in twenty will report it. We as a society need need to change that and in England currently today there are 3,600 beds available for victims of domestic abuse, but only 20 of those beds are available nationwide for men and none are available in London. Those are truly scary statistics, that men don’t have somewhere to go to be safe.
It is time to raise awareness around the fact that, yes, Men suffer abuse and violence in domestic relationships, and they need the support and help they deserve. Most men simply still believe in the old fashioned belief that they should be able to protect themselves and stand up for themselves, yet this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s time to stop ignoring men in abusive or violent relationships. It’s time to start reaching out and helping them.
Have you suffered from domestic abuse or domestic violence as a man? I would really love to hear how you dealt with it in the comments below.