People tend to overlook news reports of domestic violence against men, or pass them off as extremely rare. But this is far from the truth. In fact, data from several sociological studies covering domestic violence show that women do perpetrate domestic violence on men, just not nearly as often as men do on women.
Generally, the media, law enforcement, and average citizens incorrectly view domestic violence as a crime committed solely by men on their female intimate partners or spouses (read Domestic Violence Laws and Charges of Domestic Abuse). This causes most of the funding for research on domestic violence and support of victims to get overwhelmingly funneled toward programs that focus on women.
The Hidden Crime – Violence Against Men
Violence against men in a domestic setting is America's hidden crime. Why does intimate partner violence against men remain in the shadows? Many people view male victims of domestic violence as sissies or as weak. This typical attitude makes men reluctant to admit that their partners physically abuse them for fear of being labeled as weak and unmanly.
Even when domestic violence against men turns fatal, as it did with celebrity Phil Hartman, the news coverage usually departs from focusing on domestic violence and centers on mental illness. This shift incites public sympathy for the perpetrator, in this case Hartman's wife.
Research on Physical Abuse of Men Urgently Needed
Most information on the physical abuse of men is anecdotal because funding for studying the problem is scarce. Scientific studies addressing the problem are urgently needed. Although not considered scientific in the traditional sense, over 200 studies that used surveys as the primary method for gathering data indicate that 50 percent of all domestic violence cases involve an exchange of blows. The 50 percent of cases where the violence is one-sided is equally split between males and females who are battered by their spouses or intimate partners. The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) funded the only national, scientific study for measuring the impact of domestic violence against men. This further implies that violence against men is a mental health issue, rather than a crime.
Recently, the Department of Justice backed off of their refusal to allocate funds for the study of domestic violence against men – and only then if the study grants equal time to investigating violence against women.
Examples of Domestic Violence Against Men
The list below includes a small sampling of examples of domestic violence against men. Domestic abuse includes not only physical violence, but verbal, emotional, and financial violence as well.
Get help from a male-friendly domestic abuse support center if your partner:
- Kicks, punches, slaps, or bites you (often, but not always, women target a man's groin)
- Threatens you with weapons like knives, guns, baseball bats, irons
- Purposely scalds or burns you
- Throws objects at you
- Commits violence against your children or pets
- Violates court visitation orders by willfully stopping you from seeing your children
- Verbally humiliates you in public or private
- Constantly ridicules and makes fun of you
- Calls you names and berates your self-worth
- Blames your for her own failures
- Destroys your personal items
- Turns your children against you (parental alienation)
- Threatens to ruin you financially if you leave her
- Isolates you from family members or family functions, if your family is nearby
- Destroying fixtures in the home (i.e. cabinetry, walls, appliances)
You are not weak. You are not to blame. You are not alone. If you need help, call The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women at 1-888-HELPLINE. This non-profit organization addresses domestic violence against both men and women with equal urgency.