Whenever domestic violence is mentioned, you never hear about the countless men that are abused as well. It is outrageous that any man or woman is abused by their partners, and this needs to stop for everything. But whilst there is plenty of research focusing on men assaulting women, there is barely any research on women attacking men. This is extremely harmful to everyone and this needs to change. But why does is it so hard to recognise abuse against men?
Also as this is to do with mental health and abuse is a crime that’s why this is both a forensic and clinical psychology episode.
This episode has been sponsored by Forensic Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
Why Is It Difficult To Recognise Domestic Violence Against Men?
Even in 2022, there are so few research studies that focus on men as the victims of domestic abuse, and the studies that do exist tend to focus on homosexual couples. Creating and reinforcing the extremely damaging stereotype of an adult straight man cannot be abused by a woman.
Of course it is flat out wrong. But the stereotype exists and it is what people believe.
In addition, the national coalition against domestic violence reports that 1 in 9 men experience domestic violence in the USA. But when you consider the damaging impact of the stereotypes, the tendency for men to underreport it and the so-called accompanying embarrassment, this number is likely to be very low compared to the real number.
And I call the embarrassment so-called because there shouldn’t be any negativity towards the male victims. They should be able to get support and stop the awful things they are experiencing.
Additionally, whereas male abusers tend to use physical methods to inflict pain onto their victims. Women don’t necessarily have that option, not only because their small size and possible inability to overpower a man. But also it comes back to how women are socialised in our society.
Therefore, women abusers tend to use psychological warfare instead. By using revenge-seeking behaviour (like posting horrible things on social media and spreading rumours), emotional abuse and stalking.
And most experts and people who work with domestic violence survivors actually say this form is more harmful than physical aggression. Due to it is harder to spot and prove, as well as even more our legal systems are not designed to effectively deal with the non-physical side of abuse.
Meaning that this psychological abuse is far more likely to continue, go unnoticed and unstopped for much longer than any physical abuse would.
Personally, I think this is tragic because in society, we should want to protect everyone, regardless of gender, so it is a shame that we cannot detect and even legally deal with psychological abuse. And this goes for any gender.
All abuse is flat out wrong!
Male domestic violence and stereotypes:
Nonetheless, when it comes to men being victims of domestic abuse, men don’t only feel weak, embarrassed and shame because of the abusive woman. But because of the damaging stereotypes too. As the men aren’t only learning how to deal with the trauma of the partner abuse, they are learning how to survive the societal pressure and stereotypes too.
Because clearly if a man gets abused, he isn’t a real man.
What utter rubbish!
In addition, these stereotypes only increase the self-doubt the victim is already experiencing and can actually lead them to put up with it, because they ask themselves questions like, is the abuse really that bad? And how much damage can a woman do?
Again isn’t helpful and it is even worse when people around the victim ask that this. It doesn’t help them to fight, deal or survive the trauma. It only makes it worse.
Societal expectations and the law:
Of course in this clinical psychology podcast episode, i am not saying men are the majority of domestic abuse victims. That unfortunate and outrageous statistic goes to women. But I am highlighting that men are victims too.
Also the very idea of straight men being abused by women was laughable up until recently in research. As well as even in the legal system, men aren’t given the same amounts of legal protection against abusers.
This is not good because surely as a society, we should try to make things equal for everyone.
And yes, I know this is very idealist but ideally we should have a society were everyone gets the same amount of legal protection.
Of course, it will never ever happen. But we should still try to come as close as we can!
Additionally, because of the intimate and tight-lipped nature around domestic violence all victims feel alone and isolated in their experiences. Like they’re trapped forever. And being a man in our culture only adds to this difficulty, because of the utter rubbish expectations we
have about men.
Like the rubbish about real men don’t talk about their feelings, they don’t cry and they leave the emotional wrecks to the woman. It is rubbish and we need to stop these harmful beliefs.
Also it is worth noting that most people (i was no exception a few years ago) believe that a man would be able to stop the abuse and therefore don’t think about it nor do they take it too seriously. This only creates an environment that isn’t conducive to supporting men who have been domestically abused.
Signs to watch out for:
As always on this psychology episode, I like to mention some useful unofficial tips toward the end. Therefore, if you think you are experiencing, or suspect a man that you care about might be going through what we’ve spoken about today, here are some signs to watch out for:
· He is concerned about his partner’s reaction to social media, calls or texts from other women.
· Their partner is extremely jealous and/or possessive. For example, they aren’t able to go out with friends alone or allowed other forms of privacy.
· The partner tells people very personal details about him or the relationships out of spite or malice. Basically making fun of him.
· Having the partner’s friends do their dirty work for them. For example, driving past his house and checking up on him.
· The partner threatens to kill herself if he doesn’t behave in a certain way or do certain things she asks of him.
· She brags about trying to get him fired from his job or another form of punishment for leaving the relationship.
Clinical Psychology Conclusion:
Domestic abuse should not happen to anyone. Regardless of their gender, sexuality and all the other outrageous causes of abuse. It shouldn’t happen full stop. But hopefully after today you can see that domestic abuse can happen to everyone and we still have a lot of work to do to help both women and men from being abused.
I really hope you enjoyed today’s clinical psychology episode.
If you want to learn more, please check out:
Forensic Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
Forensic Psychology Reference:
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. https://ncadv.org/statistics. Accessed 12/15/2021.
Seelau EP, Seelau SM, Poorman PB. Gender and role-based perceptions of domestic abuse: does sexual orientation matter? Behav Sci Law. 2003;21(2):199-214. doi: 10.1002/bsl.524. PMID: 1264504
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