Battered Men. Fact, Not Fiction

 Man in Silhouette, Photo by Chairman 7w

Man in Silhouette, Photo by Chairman 7w

UNITED STATES - According to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistic in June 2013, an estimated 85% of women and 15% of men are the victims of domestic abuse.

According to the statistics listed on the American Bar Association's website, the aggregate number of female and male victims of domestic abuse is estimated at 2.2 million victims each year in the United States.

Of this number, 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually. (Source: Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 183781, (2000) Read Full Report)

In crunching the numbers based upon these figures, the physical abuse suffered by men at the hands of their female partners is actually closer to 42% of the estimated annual domestic abuse cases in this country. Part of the gap in these statistics is probably due to under-reporting of female against male domestic abuse.

Even when statistics seem to support an increasing trend in women physically abusing their intimate male partners, people remain resistant to the idea. It is easier to accept men abusing women because this is often the norm in many countries and cultures throughout the world, including the United States. In an attempt to present fair and balanced reporting, we often note that not all women are victims or all men abusers.

But somehow, it is easier for people to accept a woman being victimized by a man than the converse. This bias was starkly illustrated in an ABC News undercover program in which two actors in a public park feigned domestic abuse in which the women hits, curses at, and otherwise abuses her male partner.

With one exception, when a group of three women decided to intervene and call the police, everyone else walked by as the woman continued to violently strike the seated man. Most of the witnesses passed without so much as a glance, and many who were subsequently interviewed admitted that they believed the man deserved the violent treatment being meted out by the woman.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlFAd4YdQks]

This role play caught on camera, seemed to illustrate that women who have long been victimized, either felt empowered by witnessing another woman “turning the tables” on a man, or sympathized with the female abuser because she was expressing her outrage at the man who must have “cheated” on her.

If in fact infidelity were the cause of this abuse, which it was not, this does not take into account the fact that it takes two people to cheat and neither should get a pass. Nor does cheating give anyone the right to physically or verbally abuse their intimate partner. But this article is not addressing marital infidelity or its causes, but rather, why people in this video felt that it was okay for a woman to physically assault and verbally berate a man in public without consequence.

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Published: 19 March 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

Why isn’t there more of an outcry? Is this payback for millennia of abuse women have suffered at the hands of men? Or is it that the victims remain silent because they have been emasculated in their homes and fear being further diminished by public admission of this fact? Whether it is all, some, or none of these reasons, many men don't report physical abuse at the hands of women because they are supposed to be strong enough to "keep their women in check."

This is a patently sexist assumption which further reinforces conditions that foster an environment in which ordinary and not-so-ordinary men silently endure abuse at the hands of their female partners. In America alone, there are famous athletes, musicians, actors, a scientist, and two American Presidents who are suspected of having been the victims of domestic abuse either through anecdotal evidence or court documents. (Source: 11 Famous Men Who Were Beat Down By Their Women, by Sam Greenspan) 

Though informative, even the tone of the aforementioned article belies the seriousness of the issue. It is yet another reason why men won’t admit to being abused, preferring to keep the abuse a secret even from their closest friends and family for fear of ridicule. But even more serious is the threat and fear of retribution by the woman they accuse, as she may subsequently report to the police that she was merely defending herself against his aggression.

Many people may find this difficult to believe, but I know a man whose former wife hit him, threw a drink at him, and when he left the house to avoid getting into a more heated altercation, he returned a few hours later to find two police cars parked in front of his house, with policemen waiting to arrest him. Though he tried to present his version of events, and even though he never had a complaint of domestic abuse lodged against him, in fact he didn’t have any arrest record at all; he was jailed.

He was subsequently subjected to a restraining order barring him from the house for nearly 2-months until the court date. His wife subsequently dropped the charges and apologized in open court for overreacting, and admitted to her ‘part’ in the altercation; however, this man now has a permanent criminal record. Whereas she has severe anger management issues which were never addressed nor resolved during their 18-year marriage, he was forced to attend court mandated psychological treatment.

Though his story is hard to believe, one need only look at the ABC News video to see how probable his case is, and the likelihood that somewhere, at this very moment, a man continues to be abused by his wife because he has chosen to stay for any number of reasons. Some like the man I know had small children and he knew that his wife would be punitive and keep him from seeing his children.

She also had a history of physically abusing the children by slapping and cursing at them, and thus he felt it would be better for him to remain in the house where he could at least protect them from the brunt of her anger. “Studies show that women who commit violence against the men in their lives have anger management issues, are likely to abuse their children, yet courts still favor giving the custody of the children to the female even after domestic abuse has been proven.” (Source: Domestic Violence: Men Being Abused by Women)

There is such a thing as a “Battered Man,” and there is such a thing as a "Woman Batterer/Abuser," and the sooner we de-stigmatize this type of abuse, the easier it will be for the victims and the victimizers to get the help they need to break the cycle of violence.

If you need support, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women at (888) 743-5754.

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