Yes, Male Victims of Domestic Violence Exist & Its Time to Talk About It. 24/10/2016
Published by EBONY
One in 7 men experience
intimate partner violence in their lifetime, but most people never hear
about it. It’s time we stop shaming and silencing men who are abused
October is National Domestic Violence
Awareness Month, and although we are making important progress in
combating this kind of violence—through legislation and public conversations alike—there is still a great deal of work to be done.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCDAV),
nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by their partner in
the United States, with intimate partner violence accounting for 15
percent of violent crimes committed. And although most are aware that 1
in 3 women will experience intimate partner violence within their
lifetime, not enough people know that 1 in 7 men also experience this
kind of violence too. In fact, according to the National Domestic
Violence Hotline (NDVH), “One in 10 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.”
We simply don’t talk enough about male victims of domestic
abuse—whether that abuse is physical, mental, emotional or financial.
And if we are really serious about addressing intimate partner violence
as the danger the above mentioned statistics clearly show that it is,
then we have to be willing to recognize men as victims too.
We have to address toxic masculinity
as it relates to violence, and with the full understanding that it not
only threatens the lives of women, but it threatens the lives of men as
well. Much in the same way that toxic masculinity is responsible for the
abuse of women like Joyce Quayweay—who
was savagely beaten to death by her partner for not “submitting” to
him— it is also responsible for male victims of domestic abuse not
leaving or reporting the abuse they suffer, or even not recognizing that
they are victims in the first place. In his incredible, must-watch TED
Talk entitled, “A Call to Men,” Tony Porter refers to these narrow definitions of manhood as “the man box.”
While speaking with Laura Donovan over at attn.com,
Randy Flood, a therapist and co-founder of the Men’s Resource Center of
West Michigan, argued one important reason men don’t often see
themselves as victims of domestic abuse is because they are socialized
to absorb pain without complaining about it.
“There is a history of men, if they are experiencing some type of
abuse from the power above them, to not complain about it and suck it
up,” Flood said. “When you get bullied, you’re not supposed to whine.
You’re not supposed whine about an authoritative, difficult coach.
There’s a lot about being male that is taking pain and not complaining
L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, Professor of Sociology and Black Studies at
City University of New York, shares Flood’s views on men and power,
but he digs a bit deeper.
Often times I meet and work with men who see their
experiences of having power yielded over them, in the forms of physical,
emotional, and sexual abuse, as a statement on their own weakness
rather than recognizing it as abuse. Rather than seeing how the idea
that we feed men, “those who have power can and should control” they
come to see their suffering as an inability to realize their full
Lewis-McCoy, who spoke with EBONY.com by email, argues that the inability to access full manhood (and full humanity period) often leads to normalizing violence.
Because all men, across the sexuality spectrum, have
been taught to value power over, rather than sharing power with others,
too often abuse between men often goes under reported. We have got to
get to a space where we don’t accept abuse as a rite of passage or ‘no
big deal’ and we need to learn to deal with each other as full emotional
beings who are capable of hurting as well as being hurt.
Hari Zayed, EIC of RaceBaitr,
explores the perspective of queer men and masculine presenting folks.
In an separate email to EBONY.com he explained why our inability to see
men (or masculine presenting people) as victims is also a serious issue
for the queer community:
…So many men have been groomed into the idea that
masculinity equates to strength, and being a man has been so tied to
masculinity, anything threatening a man’s ability to claim “strength” is
also threatening to the way they are able to make sense of themselves.
This makes conversations about the violence men and masculine-identified
folks experience in queer relationships and beyond nearly impossible to
have, because a person who has incorporated masculinity into their
understanding of themselves must then acknowledge a “weakness,” which
goes against everything they think they know about who they are and
throws their whole world into disarray…The truth is that all people
possess degrees of manhood and womanhood, masculinity and femininity,
and in order for anyone to be a full person they can’t conceive of
themselves in binding and rigid gendered terms. If a simple
acknowledgment that we need help—or on the flip side, that we can be a
femme person who commits abuse—destroys our entire sense of self and
leaves us with no way to understand our place in the world, we will
never be able to take part in the solution to gendered violence.
Even if male victims of domestic violence come forward about their abuse, they can face many barriers to accessing help.
They fear that if the police get involved they will not be seen as
victims, and could face arrest themselves. Or that if they try to leave,
they won’t be able to access services that would help them, like space
at a shelter or counseling.
If those reporting abuse are queer—men or people who present
themselves masculinely- they can risk being ridiculed and outed. We
cannot afford to not open up space for these conversations, or the
access and services male victims of domestic abuse need in order to
acknowledge that they are being abused and escape their abusers.