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Abused Men

The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence

by Philip W. Cook
Book reviews Copyright © 1998 by L. J. Bouchard and © 1998 by Bert H. Hoff

Read our Special Section on Battered Men.


Philip W. Cook, Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence(Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997). Order on-line


Book cover
Abused Men
The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence

by Philip W. Cook
Order on-line
 MenWeb review:
I agree with Mr. Brochard's review. That, however, was not what struck me the most about the book. Phil does an excellent job of walking through the statistics and studies, and brings it home with the point that the actual percentages are not important. What is important is that there are a lot of battered men out there, and they are being ignored.

The strength of the book, is in the compelling and convincing personal stories.

Phil also documents very convincingly the opposition (including threats of physical violence and slanderous attacks) that arises when one tries to talk about domestic violence against men.

But the book is very pro-active. He outlines clearly and effectively what these men need if we are to help them and if we are to have a truly gender-neutral domestic violence response system that meets the needs of people who are victims of domestic violence. The book is a tour de force that dispels myths and presents a balanced (and non-polemic, non-"backlash") picture of the problem. It will stand as the definitive work in this area for years to come. I just hope that people will actually read it.

review by L. Jason Bouchard

After years of seeing great references here and there, good studies, bad studies, piecemeal publications on the topic of abused men, it is wonderful to see it all under one title. There is a wealth of information out there and this book references most of the significant work, certainly all the work I have ever heard of in this area.

Philip Cook was a reporter on the street for many years. That brought him face to face many times with all aspects of domestic violence, and he got to see first hand what the government and the media try so hard to ignore. And he has decided to make it very hard for them to continue ignoring it.

The amount of material presented in this book is amazing, but it is understandable, well-organized and well-referenced. It is broken into four sections.

  1. The evidence that is out there.
  2. Men's stories, often in their own words.
  3. Resistance and Understanding (where he discusses many things including 'selective inattention'--a lovely phrase for such a despicable practice).
  4. New approaches to reducing domestic violence.

Here are some statistics gathered from a variety of surveys detailed in the first chapter of Abused Men. Did you know that....?

  • Four million women a year in the U.S. suffer domestic violence by their partners and 1.8 million women are seriously assaulted. An equal number of men experience domestic violence, with an even greater number (two million) being seriously assaulted.
  • The most cited reason for ignoring the higher or nearly equal rate of domestic violence against men include women acting in self defense. This is not true in the majority of cases. Mutual combat is the norm in violent households.
  • Women said they hit first 53% of the time, while their partners hit first 42% of the time.
  • Only 15% of women faced a gun or a knife in a domestic battle. A gun or knife was used or threatened against a male 63% of the time.
  • The more frequent use of weapons by women (82% for women versus 25% for men) in spousal assaults results in a greater injury rate for men with 77% of the assaulted men reporting some injury.
  • 84% of the men who were injured by domestic violence required medical attention, with 50% of these being hospitalized overnight or longer.

Mr. Cook discusses the research with an eye to balance, pointing out the weaknesses and strengths of each study, and the pros and cons of different research strategies as they were used in attempts to establish what really happens out there in the real world. To give you a glimpse of the range of his material, he discusses the much-touted self defense argument, the battered wife defense, violence and the impact on the next generation, the reasons men stay silent (including their fear of losing their kids), the claimed impact of patriarchy, and much, much more. He even has the rates of domestic violence in lesbian relationships (31%) and gay male couples (12%)--so much for the idea that patriarchy is the root of domestic violence! You want rates and percentages? You got 'em, lots of them, in context, with explanations as to what they do and do not mean. All the major work done in Canada is mentioned (including Lupri who had to publish in Germany, not at home, such is the political climate here).

Get this book--that's the short of it. It has received glowing comments from many of the best known professionals and activists in the field. It should be considered compulsory reading for anyone who has any interest in a healthy future for men, women and children and the survival of the family. We cannot continue to ignore half the problem of family violence and hope it will get better.

L. J. Bouchard is the father of three sons. He is active with NAANCP and Men's Health Network (Canada). Reach him at (613) 729-1106, or by email at

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