While abuse of women is widely known, what is not widely recognized is that men can be victims of emotional abuse too. It's unfortunate, but true, that women and men can be just as emotionally abusive towards men as they can be towards women. And emotional abuse of men is every bit as unacceptable as emotional abuse of women.
Emotional abuse of men is more common than once thought although the exact numbers on its occurrence aren't known due to lack of study. In domestic abuse, about 40% of cases involve violence of women against men.
What is Emotional Abuse of Men?
Emotional abuse of men is the same as emotional abuse of women: it is acts, including verbal assault, that make a person feel less self-worth or dignity. Emotional abuse of men makes them feel like less of a person.
Male victims of emotional abuse may experience partners that:
- Yell and scream
- Threaten them and try to induce fear
- Insult and demean them; tell them they are not worth the trouble
- Socially isolate them
- Lie or withhold information
- Treat them like a child or servant
- Control all the finances
When Women Emotionally Abuse Men
Some believe that men are more sensitive to emotional abuse than woman and can "brush off" physical abuse more easily. Male victims of emotional abuse who are called a "coward," "impotent," or a "failure," may be more affected by these remarks than their female counterparts.1
Controlling and emotionally abusive behaviors elicited by women may include:2
- Falsely accusing or threatening to accuse a man of assault on them or their children
- Threatening to take away custody of the children
- Threatening to kill themselves or others
- Making the man feel like "he's crazy"
- Minimizing the abuse; blaming the victim of the abuse
- Playing mind games
- Making the man feel guilty
- Falsely obtaining a restraining order
- Withholding affection
Why Do Men Stay in Emotionally Abusive Relationships
Like women, many men stay in emotionally abusive relationships. This can be for many reasons but certainly in part due to the toll that emotional abuse can take on a man's self-worth. He may not believe he is worthy enough to leave the relationship or he may believe he deserves the emotional abuse.
Men may also stay in emotionally abusive relationships because:
- Of threats made by their abuser
- To protect the children
- They feel dependent on the abuser
What Can Male Victims of Emotional Abuse Do?
Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness, programs for male victims of emotional abuse are almost nonexistent. However, private counselling and general anti-violence advocacy groups may be helpful.
Male victims of emotional abuse can:
- Call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE
- Call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD
Male victims of emotional abuse should also:
- Leave the relationship, if possible
- Tell others about the abuse
- Keep evidence of abuse for possible legal actions
- Not retaliate
More information on: Emotional Abuse Treatment and Therapy.
- Created: 24 July 2012
- Last Updated: 14 January 2014