MEN: We See You Too
Let’s imagine the following scenario together: a friend is telling you about a co-worker they have who was recently assaulted by their spouse. Your friend explains that over the weekend, their co-worker had to be admitted to the hospital after a fight between the co-worker and their spouse escalated to physical violence. Your friend was shocked to learn this as they always thought that their co-worker had such a wonderful relationship with their spouse.
Now, let me ask you the following question. In the scenario, did you picture the victim described as being male or female?
If you answered female, don’t worry. You wouldn’t be in the minority. Often, when the topic of domestic violence is discussed, we tend to think of victims as strictly female and honestly, why wouldn’t we? Many television shows and movies portray domestic violence victims as being strictly female with male perpetrators. A search of “domestic violence victims” on Google images will show you an overwhelming number of photos of female victims. Even reflecting on victims of domestic violence that you personally know probably includes more women than men.
What does this mean, though? Does this mean that men simply aren’t victims of domestic violence? Of course not. Men experience domestic violence just like women.
In fact, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that “1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime” and “1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” (NCADV, 2018) Along with that, “nearly 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner to the point they were scared for their life or safety or the lives or safety of loved ones.” (Domestic Shelters, 2015)
So, why don’t we hear about male victims as often as we do women?
Simply put, men are less likely to come forward about their abuse than women and a lot of that has to do with the gender norms that have been placed upon men.
For example, men are taught that expressing themselves, especially as a victim, isn’t okay. This gender stereotype can have serious consequences on male survivors of domestic violence. Not only does a man not receive help, but psychological damage is done. We have often heard from our male survivors that they feel emasculated and weak for not being able to stop the abuse.
Another example is that when men report instances of abuse, their claims are not taken seriously. As advocates, we often meet male survivors who feel discouraged telling their stories after being ridiculed and told that they were overreacting. This too has psychological effects on a person. Men then start to diminish their own abuse and fear that they won’t be believed in the future.
Violence and abuse are not gender specific. As advocates, we know this all too well to be true. Women AND men experience domestic violence. Men, we believe you and we want to help. We’re here for you 24/7. Give us a call sometime.