When we think of domestic violence, we typically think of men abusing women, but that is not always the case. Male victims of abuse can be caused at the hands of his female, or male, partner.
The five most common signs of domestic violence include:
Like women, men often feel ashamed, frightened, guilty, or confused, but one of the most difficult realities that male victims often encounter is defining the abuse as abuse. Our society has shaped the way we perceive men: strong, dominant, men don’t cry. Being vulnerable is highly looked down upon and a man should not be battered or abused by a woman because he can overpower [her].
It’s unfortunate that masculinity, or manhood, comes into question when the male victim doesn’t defend himself against his female abuser; not only has our society taught us to criticize a male victim for being a victim, but if a male victim is being attacked, he is ostracized (and often put in jail) for defending himself against a female perpetrator.
There are a myriad of reasons why a male victim does not leave the abusive relationship:
Domestic violence does not recognize gender; it can happen to anyone.
You are not alone.
You are loved. You are worthy.
Abuse, regardless of gender, should not be ignored!
As we grow older, we have a tendency to look back through our memories and remember the "good ol’ times" we had as kids. Running through the school yard playing hopscotch, double-dutch, or riding our sleds down the snowy hill behind our school. But, sometimes our memories can evoke a shattered feeling, a feeling that can never be shaken regardless of how hard we try.
I was a product of a young marriage gone awry; my parents divorced when I was 3, and in the years since, I’ve never really felt wanted, or needed, by either of them. I was constantly told, “You act just like your father,” or “You remind me of HIM”, or “I wish you were never born,” and the worst “You are the worst mistake of my life.” Growing up, I accepted such phrases as terms of endearment. It seems a little bizarre, but it’s better to feel something rather than nothing.
Despite my mother’s feelings, I tried my hardest to make her proud of me, love me, and want me because I loved her – she was supposed to be the most important person in my life. But no matter how hard I tried, my efforts were in vain. The men, bars, and booze, were far more important to her, and why wouldn’t they be? I was nothing more than a reflection of a man who she grew to hate.
As my developmental years, elementary and middle school, started to pass me by, so did the amount of time I got to spend with my mother. One, maybe two hours of the day were shared between us, but nighttime was most unpleasant part of the day. I would abruptly wake up in the middle of the night to the dins of my mom and live-in boyfriend stumbling through the front door. Slurred shouting, fighting, and puking were part of my nighttime routine.
The night before my birthday, my mom and her boyfriend came home from the bar and had a little too much to drink. I remember sitting up in my bed, wishing they would hurry up and fall asleep. That night, God didn’t hear my prayers. Sounds of screaming, yelling, and breaking glass flooded the floor beneath me. In my young life, I had heard thousands of arguments, but none to this caliber. I sat alone, in the dark, wishing that my turn wasn’t coming.
Before I knew it, I heard a furious “Pound!”, “Pound!”, “Pound!” – my mother’s boyfriend began stomping up the stairs. Pure terror consumed my fragile body. I started to shake uncontrollably as my bedroom door flew open and I saw his silhouette staring down at me. I began to panic and soiled my pajamas.
“It’s not my fault! I’m sorry!” Was all that I could muster.
That night, I was rushed to the hospital for a possible broken spine. I was scared that something would happen to my mother if I told the doctors what her boyfriend did to me, so I responded with “I fell down the stairs,” to anyone who asked. I did this on my own accord...to save my mom.
I was 8.
This was not the first time I was abused, nor was it the last.
I am plagued with severe depression (extreme highs and lows), borderline personality disorder, I don’t trust easy, and I have a fear of abandonment. While I am thankful that I was not left with a physical disability, the mental frustrations caused by abuse have haunted me well into my adult years.
I’m afraid of getting hurt, so I shut the people out who try to get too close to me.
I’m afraid that if I get into a serious relationship, I might turn into an abuser.
I’m afraid that I’ll never be good enough.
I hated my abuser for many years; I hated my mother for just as long because she didn’t do her motherly duty – she didn’t protect me; but I hated myself the most because I felt that the abuse was my fault.
I never got the chance to confront my abuser; he passed away a few years ago.
My mother and I are working on our relationship. It’s not an easy task and we end up arguing more often than not. But she is still the most important person to me.
I’m working on myself. I have good days and bad days, and even some days that are too much for me to handle. I’m slowly starting to love myself, so that I can have the ability to love and trust again. I strive to be the best at whatever I do, so I know that I’m good enough.
I’m a work-in-progress. I’m trying. I’m doing. I'm living. I'm thriving. I'm helping.
Benn StebletonStebleton, B. (2015). Personal Graphics at conference. For more work, please like his page: https://www.facebook.com/bennstuff
Domestic Violence Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://domesticviolencestatistics.org/domestic-violence-statistics/
Gidfar, M. (n.d.). Don't Believe In The War On Women? Would A Body Count Change Your Mind? Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://www.upworthy.com/dont-believe-in-the-war-on-women-would-a-body-count-change-your-mind
Intimate Partner Violence and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://www.apa.org/topics/violence/partner.aspx?item=1
NISVS Infographic. (2014, September 8). Retrieved September 11, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/infographic.html
Time to Change. Is he or she ready?
Change doesn't happen overnight. It's a daily, monthly, yearly struggle. If he or she is making a conscious effort to change for both you and him, encourage the change!