are the Physical, Sexual, Emotional and Economical abuses and what is the
violence against men deals with domestic violence experienced by men or boys in
a relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating, or within a family. As
with domestic violence against women, violence against men may constitute a
crime, but laws vary between jurisdictions.
Socio-cultural norms regarding the treatment of men by women, and women by men differ depending on the geographic region, and physically abusive behavior by one partner towards another is regarded varying as a serious crime to a more personal matter.
Whereas women who experience domestic violence are openly encouraged to report it to the authorities, it has been argued that men who experience such violence often encounter pressure against reporting, with those that do facing social stigma regarding their perceived lack of machismo and other denigration of their masculinity.
Additionally, intimate partner violence (IPV) against men is generally less recognized by society than IPV against women, which can act as a further block to men reporting their situation.
The prevalence and frequency of IPV against men is highly disputed, with different studies showing different conclusions for different nations, and many countries having no data at all. Some researchers believe the actual number of male victims is likely to be greater than law enforcement statistics suggest due to the high number of men who do not report their abuse.
IPV against men is a controversial area of research, with terms such as gender symmetry, battered husband syndrome and bidirectional IPV provoking a great deal of debate. One of the main tools used to find statistical evidence of male victims of IPV (as well as female victims of IPV), the conflict tactics scale, has been heavily criticized, and heavily defended.
Types of domestic violence
Domestic violence can take a variety of forms and generally includes the following acts:
Any act or threat of physical violence intended to cause physical pain, injury, suffering or bodily harm. Physical abuse can include hitting, slapping, punching, choking, pushing and any other type of contact that results in physical injury to the victim. Physical abuse can also include behaviors such as denying the victim medical care when needed, depriving the victim of sleep or other functions necessary to live, or forcing the victim to engage in drug/alcohol use against his/her will. It can also include inflicting physical injury onto other targets, such as children or pets, in order to cause psychological harm to the victim.
Any conduct that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the sexual integrity of the victim. Sexual abuse is any situation in which force or threat is used to obtain participation in unwanted sexual activity. Coercing a person to engage in sexual activity against their will, even if that person is a spouse or intimate partner with whom consensual sex has occurred previously, is an act of aggression and violence.
Sexual violence is defined by the World Health Organization as: any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.
Marital rape, also known as spousal rape, is non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse. As such, it is a form of partner rape, and amounts to domestic violence and sexual abuse. Marital rape has been described as one of the most serious violations of a women’s bodily integrity and yet it is a term that many people still have a problem comprehending, with some still describing it as a ‘contradiction in terms’.
Emotional, verbal and psychological abuse
Usually a pattern of degrading or humiliating conduct towards the victim privately or publicly, including repeated insults, ridicule, name calling and/or repeated threats to cause emotional pain; or the repeated exhibition of obsessive possessiveness or jealousy, which is such as to constitute a serious invasion of the victim’s privacy, liberty, integrity and/or security.
Other acts that fall under emotional abuse include controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, implicitly blackmailing the victim by harming others when the victim expresses independence or happiness, and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources and necessities.
Emotional abuse includes conflicting actions or statements that are designed to confuse and create insecurity in the victim. These behaviors lead victims to question themselves, causing them to believe that they are making up the abuse or that the abuse is their fault.
Emotional abuse also includes forceful efforts to isolate the victim, to keep them from contacting friends or family. This is intended to eliminate those who might try to help the victim leave the relationship and to create a lack of resources for the victim to rely on if they were to leave. Isolation eventually damages the victim’s sense of internal strength, leaving them feeling helpless and unable to escape from the situation. Women and men undergoing emotional abuse often suffer from depression, which puts them at increased risk for suicide, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Includes the unreasonable deprivation of economic or financial resources to which the victim is entitled under law or requires out of necessity, including household necessities, mortgage bond repayments, rent money in the case of a shared residence, and/or the unreasonable disposal of household effects or other property in which the victim has an interest.
Economic abuse may involve preventing a victim from resource acquisition, limiting the amount of resources available to him/her, or exploiting the victim’s economic resources. The motive behind preventing a victim from acquiring resources is to diminish his/her capacity to support him/herself, thus forcing the victim to depend on the perpetrator financially. In this way, the perpetrator can prevent the victim from obtaining education, finding employment, maintaining or advancing a career and acquiring assets. The abuser may also put the victim on an allowance and closely monitor how he/she spends money. Sometimes the abuser will spend the victim’s money without his/her consent and create debt, or even completely spend the victim’s savings to limit available resources.
Uttering or conveying a threat, or causing a victim to receive a threat, which induces fear. The abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare the victim into submission. Such tactics may include smashing things in front of the victim, destroying property, hurting the victim’s pets or showing off a weapon. The clear message is that if the victim doesn’t obey, there might be violent consequences.
Engaging in a pattern of conduct that induces a fear of harm in the victim, including repeatedly watching the victim; loitering outside of or near the building/place where the victim resides, works, carries out business, studies or happens to be; repeatedly making telephone calls or inducing another person to make telephone calls to the victim, whether or not conversation ensues; repeatedly sending, delivering or causing the delivery of letters, emails, texts, packages or other objects to the victim.
there is no real legal definition of stalking. Neither is there any specific legislation to address this behavior. The term is used to define a particular kind of harassment. Generally, it refers to a long-term pattern of persistent and repetitive contact with, or attempts to contact, a particular victim.
Examples of the types of conduct often associated with stalking include: direct communication; physical following; indirect contact through friends, work colleagues, family or technology (email or SMS); and other intrusions into the victim’s privacy. The abuse may also take place on social networks like Facebook, on-line forums, Twitter, instant messaging, SMS, BBM or via chat software. The stalker may use websites to post offensive material, create fake profiles or even make a dedicated website about the victim.
Damage to property
Willful damaging or destruction of property belonging to the victim or in which the victim has a vested interest.
Entry into property
Entry into the victim’s residence without consent, where the parties do not share the same residence.
Any other controlling or abusive behavior
Any conduct that harms, or may cause imminent harm to, the safety, health or well-being of the victim. ‘Imminent harm’ includes situations where:
the perpetrator is in the possession of a firearm and has threatened to use the firearm against the victim, or her dependents or other family members;
the perpetrator has used a weapon against the victim in previous incidences of domestic violence (not restricted to dangerous weapons, such as firearms or knives);
the victim was critically injured by the perpetrator on a previous occasion, or on the occasion in question;
the victim and her children have been ‘kicked out’ of the shared residence by the perpetrator or anyone affiliated with him;
the victim has sufficient evidence (i.e. witness statements) that the perpetrator has threatened to harm her; and
The victim fears for the safety of her children.
The protection order
A protection order, also called a restraining order or domestic violence interdict, is a court order that tells an abuser to stop the abuse and sets certain conditions preventing the abuser from harassing or abusing the victim again. It may also help ensure that the abuser continues to pay rent or a bond or interim maintenance. The protection order may also prevent the abuser from getting help from any other person to commit abusive acts.
For further information contact Alliance Against Domestic violence and Human Rights offices in the Gambia, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, text only to Dr Azadeh on 00220 7774469/3774469 from 3-6 week days.
Author DR AZADEH Senior Lecturer at the University of the Gambia, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Clinical Director at Medicare Health Services.