When people think about domestic abuse, the picture that typically comes to mind is a man beating up a woman. While this form of domestic abuse is quite common, it is far from the only domestic violence that occurs. Men beat women, men beat men, women beat women, women beat men. Male victims of domestic abuse are less likely to come forward, though, for many reasons, the main one being that they are often not believed.
Male Victims Are Not Alone
There are many reasons that a male who has suffered from domestic abuse does not come forward. Some of those reasons are shared across both sexes, while others are unique to men.
A few of the reasons that male victims of abuse do not come forward are:
Fear of not being believed;
Fear of being ridiculed;
Fear of retribution;
Lack of a support system;
Fear of police.
Fear of Not Being Believed
This is common across both sexes but amplified with men. The discrepancy between the sexes here is a bit unwarranted as the rate between men and women suffering from domestic abuse is not a huge gap. About one-third of women and one-quarter of men have experienced physical violence from a partner in one form or another.
The gap between men and women suffering serious injuries from domestic abuse is a bit wider, but still not enough to account for the large difference in reporting of abuse between men and women. A lot more women come forward with reports of abuse, than did 50 years ago because the overall system has improved to support abuse victims better. Although in some areas, not much progress has been made.
Things haven’t caught up nearly as well for male victims, though. The system still largely disbelieves claims outright or believes that the victim is more likely the victimizer. The male victim can find themselves in an even worse position than when they came forward.
Fear of Being Ridiculed
The world continues to move forward, but progress is slow. When it comes down to it, a guy being beaten up by a girl is still seen as unmanly. It’s a real indictment of our society, that generally a man who goes home and beats his wife is seen as being more of a man than one who doesn’t raise a hand to his wife and is beat by her instead. The first man should be condemned, while the second should be supported.
Fear of Retribution
As the fear of not being believed, this one is typically prevalent with both men and women. There is fear that if the abuser is not taken into custody (or if they are that when they get out), there will be retaliation for the accusation, and the victim will receive even worse abuse.
Lack of a Support System
There are many organizations that work with women who have been abused, but still fairly few that exist to help support men who have suffered from domestic abuse. This can leave men feeling isolated after reporting abuse. Having people to talk to who have shared your common experience is one of the most important things that victims of abuse need to help them move on.
Fear of the Police
There are multiple reasons that a man might be afraid of the police when reporting domestic abuse. As mentioned above, the police don’t always believe that men who come forward are actually the victims. They can even think they are the victimizer, which potentially brings criminal charges as well as victimization.
Another reason there might be fear of the police when reporting abuse is one that is felt by both men and women. The fact is, there is a disproportionate chance that the abuser is in law enforcement. Studies show that police officers are two to four times more likely to commit acts of domestic abuse than the public in general.
great police officers out there. However, there are also many who don’t do the job because they care about protecting the people, but rather because the job comes with a feeling of power. This is right in line with abusers because wanting to exhibit power and control over the victim is one of the main reasons why domestic abuse happens.
Going to the police to report your abusive police officer partner often doesn’t go over very well, so many victims feel they are better off avoiding it and continue suffering in silence.
Removing the Stigma
There are many reasons that men don’t come forward when they are abused, but there shouldn’t be. Victims of abuse deserve our support, not our condemnation. It shouldn’t matter what sex they are – man, woman, non-binary – it makes no difference. They are all victims, and until we fully support them as a society, many of them will remain in the shadows.