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What's a Man to Do?

Updated on September 25, 2014

It probably would not surprise you to know that every fifteen seconds a woman or girl is abused by an intimate partner. We hear so much about domestic abuse and battered wives these days that we tend to overlook the personal pain of these brave women. Our society has become desensitized to domestic violence, but for those who are abused, it is very real.

For sure, the devastating affect of abuse on women is outrageous. The man in the woman's life is meant to love, cherish, and protect her til death do they part, but all too often it does not work out that way.. The wife or girlfriend is belittled, humiliated, and degraded leaving her with no self-will,and no self-esteem.

Red Flags of Abuse

Here are fifteen warning signs that abusive behavior may be developing as posted by The National Domestic Hotline1.

  • Telling you that you can never do anything right
  • Showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away
  • Keeping you or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members
  • Embarrassing or shaming you with put-downs
  • Controlling every penny spent in the household
  • Taking your money or refusing to give you money for expenses
  • Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
  • Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions
  • Telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away your children
  • Preventing you from working or attending school
  • Destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets
  • Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol

These are signs of developing abusive behavior, and can be abuse in and of themselves. At the very least, consider them red flags.


Women Are Not the Only Ones

While it may not be surprising that women are abused every 15 seconds, you may find it harder to believe the same holds true for men. Women abuse their men at about the same rate of frequency as women are abused by men, but we hear so little about the abuse. Women are more likely to verbally and emotionally abuse their significant other rather than to react physically. But please know that physical abuse is growing in frequency and intensity among women as well.

Men who have suffered abuse are far less likely to report it than women, but the damage is just as serious, and just as damaging. According to Telling It Like It Is, "Emotionally abused men, even if not physically battered or beaten, are having their self-esteem and sense of “manhood” and masculinity destroyed from the inside out. There are no visible scars, wounds or bruises to use as evidence to prove to the police or anyone else that these men are being abused by their wives or girlfriends. But make no mistake, the wounds, bruises and scars of being verbally and mentally abused are obvious and constantly felt by the victim." (

Shame, embarrassment, and fear keep men from going to the authorities. In many cases, the reports are not taken seriously. There have also been instances of woman cleverly having the man arrested for abuse against the woman, adding to his lack of self-esteem.

Cycle of Abuse

The initial acts of the abuser may alarm him. A quick, punch, kick or slap may seemingly just come "out of nowhere". Generally, an apology is made and a promise to never repeat the action is given. However, the next time an argument develops the same action is repeated, and over time escalates into more serious life threatening actions.

The man, stunned, is not expecting this behavior. He forgives and the couple go on until the next time - and the next . . . . The cycle has been set for both, and it runs something like this:


An explosion of abuse erupts. Damage is done.This could be physical, sexual. verbal, or emotional. With each eruption, the self is also attacked leading to a loss of self-esteem. This initiates the next step in the cycle.

At this step in the cycle, three directions are possible. Excuses are made and apologies are given. Often, in the beginning stages, forgiveness is granted. Things seem to be heading in the right direction again; or the abuser may blame the victim for provoking the attack. Of course, this action usually leads nowhere toward reconciliation. The third option is to deny the abuse ever took place, or to try to minimize the damage, perhaps even laughing it off.

This is followed by the.honeymoon stage. Things are progressing happily. The relationship almost seems normal, but of course it is not. The abuser often acts as if the abuse never happened. This is the stage where some promises are made, and for a time they are actually kept. During this phase, the victim enters an area of hope that the abuse is over, and another chance is given.

Next up, the couple return to the routine of every day life. Life seems to go on with no major problems, and the abuse is temporarily under control.

As things become more routine, it is easier for tension to build. There may be tension from the workplace. There may be financial concerns as Peter is not yet ready to pay Paul. In-law and family issues may arise.This is a critical stage. If the tension is not controlled, the wheel of abuse will continue to roll.

It is here that the abuser begins to feel anger building, and minor incidences of abuse take place. It is also at this point that communication begins to break down. The victim senses the need to keep the abuser calm, but realizes what is probably going to take place due to the predictive pattern of the addiction. It is at this juncture that the tension between the abuser and the victim becomes too strong.


Now that the ammunition has been loaded, all that is left is to pull the trigger. The trigger - whatever it is that sets the person off will set the abuse into motion. Another explosion takes place, and generally is followed by the same five steps.

Very quickly the cycle becomes addictive, and often the actions of the abuser can be anticipated. The cycle will continue indefinitely until someone or something steps in and breaks the sequence of events.

Will the Real Wimp Please Stand Up

If husband abuse occurs as much as wife abuse, why is it we do not hear much about it? In David L. Fontes article, Men Don't Tell, he lists these reasons for the topic of husband abuse not being on the "front page". “When a man is a victim of his wife’s physical abuse he is both shamed by the assaults of his wife and shamed by society for not ‘controlling’ her better. Men are considered ‘wimps’ for letting their wives beat them or for complaining about their wives’ attacks. For many men ‘taking it like a man’ means don’t complain and don’t show you are vulnerable or in pain!

“With the prospect of being viewed as ‘wimps’ and/or having the assaults by their wives not believed or minimized by the general public and law enforcement, it’s no wonder few men report their abuse or discuss it openly.” (Men Don't Tell; David L Fontes, Psy.D.)3

There is a tremendous need for abused men to stand up and fight the battle. Being quiet about only perpetuates it. It may be seen as shameful and degrading, but someone needs to make a difference. Boldly step out, and address the issue - not for yourself alone, but for all those who will come behind you.

For confidential help, please contact


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    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Point well taken, MsDora. It is the basics we've left long ago and we are now sowing what we've reaped - unfortunately. Thanks for adding to your important thoughts.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Abuse by anyone to anyone is unfortunate. I appreciate your Red Flag list and also the diagram from excuses to more abuse. At the root of the problem, most times, the problem is a damaged sense of self worth. We need to start teachng these basics again.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I never thought about it Jackie, but I do suppose some women push their men into it. Those are probably few and far between, but I'm sure it does happen. My wife is planning some seminars on abuse and other topics. I might suggest she include abuse by women as well. As always, thanks for visiting.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Sheila,

      Thanks for adding to this important topic. Abuse is always wrong - whether it is happening to a man, woman, or child. But the men need to speak up. They above all else have the ability to do so. My prayer is that they will. Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Actually Bill I know more abusive women than abusive men. It is like they want to make their men hit them; dare them too and it is not a pretty thing. You are right though the men are never going to say anything and it is just so sad. Maybe if more people such as you start talking about it it will get some of them knowing it is OK to make their women have to answer for what they do.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      This is a great article! Too many people either don't know about the men who are abused or choose to ignore it. I hope this article enlightens many people and gives men the courage to admit when they've been abused.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      You're welcome Jeff,

      "It is another example of the breakdown of our society because we, as a nation, have rejected God." - so very true. I have to wonder, how much longer can our nation stand? Each day she gets weaker. Still god has been merciful, but I know that won't last forever for a God-rejecting nation. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation!

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Good morning Aaron,

      I don't have any personal experience either, so it was very hard putting the article together. There's so very little information out there. The web is extremely limited when it comes to this topic, but it takes place as often as wife abuse does. Thanks for adding to the thoughts here. I always appreciate hearing from you!

    • GodTalk profile image

      Jeff Shirley 3 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Thanks Bill for your timely and eye-opening article. It is another example of the breakdown of our society because we, as a nation, have rejected God. We need to make sure that the full picture is known that both men and women are being abused. And we have to condemn it no matter who is perpetrating the sin. Once again thanks and God bless.

    • Abrushing1968 profile image

      Aaron Rushing 3 years ago from USA- Florida

      Hi Bill, Once again excellent information. I do not have any experience these matters. But have heard stories. I am always outraged when I hear about a wife being physically abused, but as you say, I never hear anything about men being beat up..

      Thanks for sharing you thoughts here.

      God Bless


    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Yeah Lori,

      It's both ugly stuff. Somewhere, somehow our society has really fallen apart. It saddens me to think of all the evil and pain in the world when it could all be cured so easily. Jesus still has the answers! As always, it's good to hear from you and thanks for taking time out to comment!

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Perspycacious,

      I have to admit, I missed that one, but thanks for taking the time to fill me in.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Good points dashingscorpio,

      You're so right in all you said. I think your phrase "catch 22" sums it up for the man. that's not to take away from the tragedy of wife abuse, but when the shoe is on the other foot, it doesn't always seem to fit. thank for stopping by and adding to the conversation.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Thanks Bill,

      We hear so much about the abuse of women, but it happens to all regardless of gender, age, etc. Abuse is wrong - period. and it's time for people to get involved. Thanks for coming by!

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Perspy, that's funny.

      Bill excellent information, and very accurate. My best friend used to a have ministry about DV. It was mostly education, by her Org also worked hard to open and home for abused women. But it did't survive.

      I have seen both male and female a buse. Ugly stuff.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      I recall the sending a joke to Jay Leno saying Lorena Bobbitt would get mercy from the courts because "She was just a little snippet of a thing."

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 3 years ago

      Voted up and interesting!

      In our society if a woman hits a man it's a "comedy" and if a man hits a woman it's a "tragedy". It's always been that way.

      For example when Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband's penis it created jokes for late night talk hosts for several weeks. However if a man had cut off his wife's breast there probably would not have been a single joke.

      Men who are physically abused are in a "catch 22" more often than not. If they hit back they're "cowards", if the call the police they're "wimps" and also a laughing stock, and if they simply choose to walk away in silence it often infuriates the woman even more as she strikes harder or throws something at him. Most "shelters" are for women and children only therefore an abused man can't expect much help within his community.

      Everyone is quick to say: "A man should never hit a woman". However I believe it's time to say: "No one should be hitting anyone and that goes for women too!" A violent woman shouldn't get a free pass to hit a man.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Abuse is an epidemic in this country. Articles like this one are vitally important in raising awareness...well done.