Men are Victims in the Domestic Violence Arena Too
Heart and Mind SERIES
The presumption that male victims of abuse are not "protected" by the system holds the key to several mysteries. The previous older historical question was "Why are women of abuse not protected by the system?" This is how much society has changed in the last 20 to 30 years. Since I have dealt with this issue for over 20 years, I can plot how understanding domestic abuse in its whole entirety led to the light of enlightenment shining, indeed, on both of the genders.
"It's Not Criminal, It's Just Domestic!" (Just Wife Beating)
But the gradual unfolding of the questions took time. The first question when cops would show up was, "Oh, it's not criminal, it's just domestic". Dismissive blame was cast toward "over drinking" or a "nagging female". This kind of bureaucratic and law enforcement "cover" could not last forever. Too many hospitalized women and dead women came out of those "domestic situations".
And while those cops were inscribing the history of violence inside the American Home, they also noticed "Male Victims of Abuse". At first, there was probably male laughter, scorn or affected pity. To arrive on the scene in the "old days" caused minor confusion: "Hey Joe, who is the abused one here?"
Recent public awareness has changed what used to be an old "mysterious lack of understanding" to brand new revelations.
About 2 in 5 Victims are Men.
About two in five of all victims of domestic violence are men, contradicting the widespread impression that it is almost always women who are left battered and bruised, a new report claims.
Men assaulted by their partners are often ignored by police, see their attacker go free and have far fewer refuges to flee to than women, says a study by the men's rights campaign group Party.
The charity's analysis of statistics on domestic violence shows the number of men attacked by wives or girlfriends is much higher than thought. Its report, Domestic Violence: The Male Perspective, states: "Domestic violence is often seen as a female victim/male perpetrator problem, but the evidence demonstrates that this is a false picture."
1) Ignored by Police
Age old attitudes prevail again with the male victim. Police just don't see this problem as one that calls for a new and revolutionary response. They don't have systems in place to help, and it is very easy to dismiss the man as weak, unmanly, and not needing of social system supports.
2) See Attacker Go Free
Just as in the case of female abuse, the male often was just separated or spent a night in jail, cooling off. How could the woman think in positive self help terms if the guy never received the charges he deserved?
The man who is truly suffering watches his wife or girl friend "go free". Again, the system is not providing the little help it could.
3) Fewer Refuges/Safe Houses
In the Mid 1980's safe houses were mandatory in the eyes of those trying to help mandate policies. "All those kids! Unemployed Moms! How do you get up and move the whole family? Women and children are trapped!" But the case for men does not seem to ring as loudly or clearly as it does for women.
4) Therefore Men Don't Need as much Help.
This problem needs to be looked at anew. After getting over the reaction to the actual "logistics of the violence" (i.e."how come he doesn't hit back?"), you have men who should be able to take care of themselves, and don't need a safe house if they are without children.
The Psychological Dynamics of Domestic Violence
I talked to a Cop about this issue. He said: "It's sad. The human response is why doesn't he just defend himself, get in a few shots and keep her at bay? People just don't understand how domestic violence develops and manifests. Believe me, there is no laughing when you visit with the male victim. You can see the grief, the heartache, the shame and the despair".
Whether the victim is a man or a woman, they are still victims. Those who do not seek vengeance or excessive self defense are not weak simpletons with no inner fiber. They are more likely individuals who have already decided not to hurt, not to get back, not to let the violence explode in their homes. Seldom do people see this problem this way, but it is most likely the path that many choose.
When the Reporting changes, the Public Awareness changes. It is often true that seeing startling statistics like "2 out of 5 victims are men" changes the public consciousness and the soul of the body politic. Let us hope that we are at a "tipping point" in the awareness of this problem, just like we were years ago with the Female Victim of Domestic Violence.