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Battered Men - The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence

Help for Battered Men

Are You in an Abusive Relationship?

Why Don't Men Get Help?

© 1999 by Doug Flor

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Note: If you have been the victim of domestic violence, please e-mail me and tell me about it. What happened? Did you tell anyone about it? Why or why not? Did you seek help? Why or why not? If you did seek help, did you get it? May we publish your story here? We'll do it anonymously, unless you give specific permission to use your name and/or e-mail address.

Know a man who may be battered? Print out this page and give it to him. Often, it'll be enough to get him to talk to you about it -- if not right away, perhaps in a bit. And talking to another man about it is the first step in healing -- in survival.
Remember: TV star and comedian Phil Hartman never talked about his marital problems, either, except to joke about having to leave the house when his wife was mad. He told everyone the marriage was wonderful -- as so many men do.

Are You Battered or Abused?
Check out MenWeb's listing of resources for battered men


Why don't men seek help?

A therapist man who had to deal with abuse issues in his own life posted an answer to that on Usenet. Doug Flor was formerly a project coordinator for the Department of Child and Family Development and the Adolescent Development Research Program, Institute for Behavioral Research, The University of Georgia.

Book cover
Abused Men
The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence

by Philip W. Cook
Order on-line

This first appeared on the S.A.F.E. Web site
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It's Not OK Anymore
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Yes, you may cross post the message. Making it anonymous is not necessary, people may think I was a woman and that is something I wish to avoid. As a victim of spousal abuse from my former marriage partner, Why did I not leave? Go to a shelter? Get help anywhere?

First, I loved my former spouse. Even though she had a problem with violence, there was more to her than just the abusive behavior. I sought to work out the problem. She refused to admit that she "had a problem" (something many women's groups deny today, as well).

Second, I love my children. I felt that by being an active parent I could moderate or deflect any abuse that might be inflicted on the children. Today, they are adults. But I know that the courts don't give a man a fair shake when it comes to custody. A man can't be just a good father in order to gain custody of his children, he has to prove the mother to be incompetent. This only makes an adversarial situation more adversarial and we know that the single biggest predictor of emotional and behavioral problems in children is open hostile conflict between parents. I was unwilling to "go to bat" for my children as it would mean subjecting them to more negative behavior. By staying in an abusive relationship, I was able to assure myself that I would have access to my children and that they could see that there was a different way to have a relationship with a parent.

Third, there is a stigma attached to being a male victim of spousal abuse that even permeates our field. I had a discussion with a male professor at one university (in a family department) that refused to believe that a woman could be abusive. Try talking as a male victim to others that you are a victim of this kind of behavior and you will get such reactions as this, or reactions that imply: "you wimp", or "why don't you take it like a man", or "you must be a controlling man or she wouldn't do that", or "you must be abusive too".

These are a few reactions I have encountered by people in our field. How could I expect to have any kind of understanding from people who were NOT expected to understand families (police, etc). While I did encounter some people in this field who were understanding, it was still very embarassing for me on both the personal and professional levels.

Fourth, there are VERY FEW programs (if any) designed to help battered males. We just passed a bill called the Defense of Women's Act targeting all kinds of money for female victims of spousal abuse, but what about the men in this situation? By refusing to earmark monies to programs that are inclusive of men, we deny that a problem exists (that women can be abusive) and perpetuate an implicit message that it is perfectly OK to abuse men. THIS IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM.

Fifth, even when researchers use data sets that could illuminate the problem of familial violence by forming a theoretical framework that isn't biased (or blind), they get attacked by the more radical, extremist political agendas of groups who wish to exclude, hide, or just ignore the issue by focusing only on the "real" victims of spousal abuse.

The political agenda of these various groups say that they can only look at one type of abuse (because it is "more important"). And while some give lipservice to the issue of male victims, they rarely, if ever discuss the issue without revictimizing men who have experienced abuse. Where is the "ethic of caring" in that?

The betrayal of a prime theoretical supposition to maintain a blindsightedness because it fails to meet their political agenda makes me highly suspect of these groups. They seem to have an axe to grind and they would rather remain blind, intolerant, and uncaring than to admit their political agenda is driving their theory and research.

Familial violence, whether it is perpetrated by a male or female, on an adult male or female (or child, whether male or female) is wrong.

But in trying to ascertain why it is perpetrated and why individuals stay in abusive relationships is very complex. Most of the reasoning, research, help, and content is still blind to the issue of male victims.

doug flor


Related: Are you in an abusive relationship? A man who had to deal with abuse issues in his own life (and who has started a message board for abused men) looked into the issue of how a man can know if his relationship is abusive. He found two books that focus on women in abusive relationships, but none for men. He has extracted and edited sections from these books, to make them relevant for men.

Related: Utra-Sensitive Men and Abusive Relationships. Not just for ultra-sensitive men. Ultra-sensitive men don't have diffrent reactions to an abusive relationship, often, they have more intense reactions. They're magnified, and we can see them more clearly. If you recognize any of the patterns you see in this article, whether or not you're ultra-sensitive, it's time to look at whether your relationship is abusive.

Related: Borderline Personality Disorder and Abusive Relationships. Is she "crazymaking"? Borderline personality disorders are often abusive in relationships, and have often been abused themselves. Here's more information.

Are You Battered or Abused?
Check out MenWeb's listing of resources for battered men

Click here for books on battered men.

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Domestic Violence in Washington: 25,473 Men a Year
According to a Nov. 1998 Department of Justice report on the National Violence Against Women Survey, 1,510,455 women and 834,732 men are victims of physical violence by an intimate. In Washington, that's 42,824 women and 25,473 men. That includes 2,754 on whom a knife was used, 5,508 threatened with a knife and 11,016 hit with an object. Here are the data.

Help for Battered Men Practical suggestions, Hotline numbers, on-line resources. Print it out and hand it to a man you think may be battered--your caring opens him up to talking about it.

Men's Stories Here are some personal stories by battered men, and links to sites with more of them. The more we talk about it, the more we tell our stories, the more we increase public awareness that men are battered and encourage battered men to get the help they need. Send us your story, so we can post it here (anonymously, of course, unless you tell us differently.)

What's Wrong with the Duluth Model? The "Duluth Model" is the approach most widely used for perpetrator treatment--but it gender polarizes the "people problem" of domestic violence.. What's wrong with the Duluth Model? It blames and shames men. It's based on ideology, not science. It ignores drinking, drugs and pathology. Only one cause, only one solution. There's no real evidence it works. It ignores domestic violence by women. Women who need help can't get it. It's taught by wounded healers.

Latest Research Findings National Violence Against Women survey shows 37.5% of victims each year are men. Men are at real risk of serious physical injury. Murray A. Straus looks at controversies in DV research. Martin Fiebert examines reasons women give for assaulting men. JAMA emergency room study shows equal number of men, woman victims.


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