Oct 15, 2008, 7:59 AM
Men’s experiences are likely to be significantly different to women
Domestic abuse is often talked about in a gendered manner, but it is important to recognised that men experience domestic abuse as victims too. The research that is available suggests that women are more likely than men to experience domestic abuse in their lives and to suffer repeated victimisation. They are also more likely to be injured, or have to seek medical help.
Another difference is that men are less likely to be murdered by female abusers. Home Office figures reveal that on average, 100 women a year and around 30 men a year are killed within a domestic abuse context. Women are almost exclusively killed by men whereas in contrast approximately one third of the men are killed by other men and a little under a third are killed by women against whom they have a documented history of abuse.
Many men who experience domestic abuse from a current or former partner find it difficult to get support; not least because it can be hard for men to acknowledge and discuss their experiences. This can be due to a number of reasons, including love for a partner, embarrassment or shame and concern for any children, or simply not knowing where to go.
Men may attempt different techniques to cope. Coping strategies including adopting an ‘I can handle this’ attitude and adapting their behavior to appease the abuser. Coping strategies like this may make life temporarily safer and easier
Domestic violence against men is not always easy to recognise, but it can be a serious threat.
In continuation of our articles about Domestic Violence worldwide for the last three weeks, Dr Azadeh, a senior lecturer at the Medical School of the University of The Gambia is this week focusing on domestic violence against men.
Health Matters: Is there any domestic violence against men?
The answer of your question is very clearly “yes” indeed and I will try to explain some details out of my own experience as a medical doctor about the violence against men, rather in the different countries and fortunately not many violence against men seen in The Gambia.
Although women are more often the victims of violence - domestic violence affects men, too. Domestic violence also known as kind of domestic battering or intimate partner violence-occurs between people in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence against men can take many forms, including emotional, sexual and physical abuse.
Is there any statistics about domestic abuse and violence against men?
Very little is known about the actual number of men who are in a domestic relationship in which they are abused or treated violently by women. In 100 domestic violence situations approximately 40 cases involve violence by women against men. An estimated 400,000 women per year are abused or treated violently in the United States by their spouse or intimate partner. This means that roughly 300,000 to 400,000 men are treated violently by their wife or girlfriend.
Why do we know so little about domestic abuse and violence against men?
There are many reasons why we don’t know more about domestic abuse and violence against men. First of all, the incidence of domestic violence reported men appears to be so low that it is hard to get reliable estimates. In addition, it has taken years of advocacy and support to encourage women to report domestic violence. Virtually nothing has been done to encourage men to report abuse. The idea that men could be victims of domestic abuse and violence is so unthinkable that many men will not even attempt to report the situation.
The dynamic of domestic abuse and violence is also different between men and women. The reasons, purposes and motivations are often very different between sexes. Although the counseling and psychological community have responded to domestic abuse and violence against women, there has been very little investment in resources to address and understand the issues of domestic abuse and violence against men.
In most cases, the actual physical damage inflicted by men is so much greater than the actual physical harm inflected by women. The impact of domestic violence is less apparent and less likely to come to the attention of others when men are abused. For example, it is assumed than a man with a bruise or black eye was in a fight with another man or was injured on the job or playing contact sports. Even when men do report domestic abuse and violence, most people are so astonished men usually end up feeling like nobody believes them.
problem with assumptions about domestic abuse and violence
It is a widely held assumption that women are always the victims and men are always the perpetrators. Between 50 and 60% of all domestic abuse and violence is against women. There are many reasons why people assume men are never victims and why women often ignore the possibility.
For one thing, domestic abuse and violence has been minimized, justified and ignored for a very long time. Women are now more organised, supportive and outspoken about the epidemic of domestic abuse and violence against women. Very little attention has been paid to the issue of domestic abuse and violence against men - especially because violence against women has been so obvious and was ignored for so long.
What is domestic abuse and violence against men?
There are no absolute rules for understanding the emotional differences between men and women. There are principles and dynamics that allow interpretation of individual situations. Domestic abuse and violence against men and women have some similarities and difference. For men or women, domestic violence includes pushing, slapping, hitting, throwing objects, forcing or slamming a door or striking the other person with an object, or using a weapon. Domestic abuse can also be mental or emotional.
However, what will hurt a man mentally and emotionally, can in some cases be very different from what hurts a woman. For some men, being called a coward, impotent or a failure can have a very different psychological impact than it would on women. Unkind and cruel words hurt, but they can hurt in different ways and linger in different ways.
In most cases, men are more deeply affected by emotional abuse than physical abuse. For example, the ability to tolerate and “brush off” a physical assault by women in front of other men can in some cases reassure a man that he is strong and communicate to other men that he can live up to the code of never hitting a woman. A significant number of men are overly sensitive to emotional and psychological abuse. In some cases, humiliating a man emotionally in front of other men can be more devastating than physical abuse. Some professionals have observed that mental and emotional abuse can be an area where women are often “brutal” than men. Men on the other hand are quicker to resort to physical abuse and they are more capable of physical assaults that are more brutal - even deadly!
Why does domestic abuse against men go unrecognised?
Domestic violence against men goes unrecognised for the following reasons:
It has taken years of advocacy and support to encourage women to report domestic violence.
Virtually nothing has been done to encourage men to report abuse.
The idea that men could be victims of domestic abuse and violence is so unthinkable to most people that many men will not even attempt to report the situation.
In most cases, the actual physical damage inflicted by men is so much greater than the actual physical harm inflected by women. The impact of domestic violence is less apparent and less likely to come to the attention of others.
Even when men do report domestic abuse and violence, most people are so astonished, men usually end up feeling like nobody would believe them. It is widely assumed than a man with a bruise or black eye was in a fight with another man or was injured on the job or while playing contact sports. Women generally don’t do those things.
This risk of violence increases when the woman insults the man in front of their children, threatens the man’s relationship with his children, or she refuses to control her abusive behaviour when the children are present. She may call him a terrible father or an awful husband in front of the children. Eventually he feels enraged not only because of how she treats him, but how her behaviour is harming the children. At some point the man may throw something, punch a wall, or slam his fist down loudly to vent his anger and to communicate that he has reached his limits.
Similarly, a man being abused by another man may be reluctant to talk about the problem because of how it reflects on his masculinity.
Domestic violence can even trigger suicide attempt because men are traditionally thought to be physically stronger than women and may be less likely to talk about or report incidents or domestic violence in a marriage due to embarrassment, fear or ridicule.
For further information, please contact the Alliance Against Domestic Violence or send email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call Afri-Radio live health show with Dr Azadeh from 9-9.30am or send text on Tel. 7774469/3774469.