On Wednesday evening immediately after my husband, our dog, and I entered a restaurant's patio, a stranger asked if he could get advice from us about relationships, as he was having problems with his girlfriend. Over the next ten to fifteen minutes, we learned a bit of their history, including that together they had a child who was almost two, and that the man had ended up in the hospital on more than one occasion with broken ribs and other bones as the result of domestic violence.
So much media attention has been paid lately to women being assaulted and raped by other women, as there have been articles by Marie Claire,XO Jane, The Daily Mail in the U.K. and others. And yet the Centers for Disease Control has reported a rise in the rates of violence against men, saying that one in seven men 18 or older have been the victims of severe physical violence by a partner in their lifetimes and that 11.5 percent of men "in the the U.S. have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner and reported at least one measured impact related to these or other forms of violence in that relationship."
The Mayo Cliniccategorizes domestic violence as:
• Calls you names, insults you or puts you down
• Prevents you from going to work or school
• Stops you from seeing family members or friends
• Tries to control how you spend money, where you go or what you wear
• Acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
• Gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs
• Threatens you with violence or a weapon
• Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets
• Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
• Blames you for his or her violent behavior or tells you that you deserve it.
According to Stop Abuse and Violent Environments, a Maryland-based nonprofit, there are "many thousands of support programs, Web sites and public-interest media items for female victims of domestic violence, and no programs and only a handful of Web sites for male victims." Bert H. Hoff, J.D., adjunct faculty at the University of Phoenix School of Criminal Justice and Security, writes in the journal MenWeb, "studies show men are less likely than women to seek help, and those that do have to overcome internal and external hurdles."
The National Domestic Violence Abuse Hotline says that men do not report or seek help for their abuse because of the following reasons:
• Men are socialized not to express their feelings or themselves as victims.
• Pervading beliefs or stereotypes about men being abusers, women being victims.
• The abuse of men is often treated less serious, or as a "joke".
• Many believe there are no resources or support available for male victims.
The Mayo Clinic, too, reports , "If you seek help, you also might confront a shortage of resources for male victims of domestic violence. Health care providers and other contacts might not think to ask if your injuries were caused by domestic violence, making it harder to open up about abuse. You might fear that if you talk to someone about the abuse, you'll be accused of wrongdoing yourself. Remember, though, if you're being abused, you aren't to blame -- and help is available."
Places to Turn for Help:
A close friend or a trusted relative or a clergy member. This person can support you and you begin to get professional help.
Male Survivor helps survivors of male sexual assault and abuse with weekend recovery workshops and a wealth of resources, including therapist, support groups, and resources directories.
Center Against Domestic Violence in New York City provides non-residential services such as counseling, advocacy, support groups, and legal assistance.
Stop Abuse for Everyone (SAFE) in Austin, Texas, also provides individual counseling and support groups for male survivors of domestic violence.