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Battered Men - The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence
Battered Men's Stories

Battered Men

Men's Personal Stories

© 1998 by Bert H. Hoff


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.

Check out MenWeb's listing of resources for battered men.

"It doesn't happen." "It only happens to a few guys--puny, little guys." "Women who batter only do it in self-defense." "I wonder what he did, to make her do that?"

There are a lot of myths floating around. In these pages, we present men's stories, in their own words.

Here are some of the common themes in these men's stories.
       Click here if you want to go straight to the stories.

Whenever I speak of male abuse, I am met by disbelief and, even worse, laughter. ... I notice in talking with other shelter staff throughout the state that this attitude prevails in the other shelters, too-men are the perpetrators, women are the victims.
   -- Jan Dimmitt, Executive Director of Kelso's Emergency Support Shelter

Another man, whose story is not here e-mailed me:

I have a problem.

I feel that, if I report my wife, I will be the one that winds up in custody.

When I mentioned dialing 911 while my wife was hitting me with a skilet this morning, she told me to "Go ahead - I will just tell them that I was defending myself".

A Seattle therapist who convicted of assault and required to pay a $500 fine, perform 100 hours of community service and have absolutely no contact with the woman says:

I was dumbfounded from the very start of the incident," the man says. "I was getting struck by this woman while I was holding my daughter and I was the one who called the police.

In Kelso, a man had been out drinking and came home to fall asleep on the couch. His wife took an iron skillet and beat him. He was taken to the emergency room of the hospital and stitched up. He was taken there by police, but no charges were filed against his wife.
My wife—in one of her drunken rages—took our daughter’s baseball bat and used it to smash the locked door to my study, where I was trying desperately to meet a deadline. And since I’m over 6 feet tall and muscular, I wouldn’t get much sympathy posing as a “battered man!”: I had thought of calling the police that night. When I recalled this incident to my divorce lawyer some time later, his response was: “It’s a good thing you didn’t, because the police probably would have arrested you.”
My son was married to a violent young woman for a few months before he left her. He is much larger than her and is a one time amateur boxing champion. She never used weapons, so she never came close to hurting him physically. But she hit him whenever she got the notion to, she cut up his clothes and threw them in the yard, she destroyed the trophies he had accumulated in various sports competitions since childhood, and she destroyed a wedding album my wife had made for them. Neither party was blameless, but the physical violence was all hers. If my son had ever hitten her, there would have been evidence for weeks.
I was in a hellish marriage with a woman who had difficulty controlling her rage, which would frequently erupt with her hitting, verbal abuse, and screaming. If fighting with her did occur, it was self-defense; if she threw a punch or kicked, I defended myself. In one particular case, after she initiated a fight by kicking and throwing punches, she called the police to report me as the violent abuser! When they responded, I was seen as the bad guy, she was the victim!
A man from Washington state---
I am 6'2" and about 200 lbs. I have a solid background in wrestling and have dabbled in TKD and Judo. I am also a DV survivor. I am NOT a "victim"! ... I was awakened by her screaming as she came through the bedroom door swinging a baseball bat. She brought it down across my legs. I managed to avoid most of the blow and took the bat away from her by twisting it out of her hands. She went to the kitchen and got a marble rolling pin.
We've tried to find help for him but all of the shelters just answer in silence. It's a shame how he was treated by the police and that there are no shelters or groups to help men, they need it every bit as much as women. It's time to stop offering help to someone just because they are a women. Abuse is abuse, it does matter how the abuser is or how the abused is.
I know the terror that comes from domestic violence, in this case perpetrated by my mother.
   -- a Seattle man
I have been verbally and psychologically battered and abused, I've been threatened with bodily harm, I've been threatened to be shot right between the eyes, I've been kicked in the groin, I've had to watch while my ex sexually molested my daughter and not dare interfere for fear of retaliation. Then 1 day she called 911 so fast and had me arrested, my head was literally spinning with disbelief. When trying to tell the officer that I was provoked and that she was hurting my daughter and that I was protecting my daughter, he told me that I had better keep quiet, I'd charge you with a felony if I could, he said. .. So now what do i do?
She slapped the walls in the hall way. ... She hit me in the arm a few times, goading me to hit back. ... As you can see the above picture doesnítí show any gross domestic violence.
Wife became very angry and she attacked me with a set of Porsche Keys - maybe three inches long. she stabbed me thirteen times. As I was trying to leave, she took our daughter and tried to throw her down the steps
Although she had been physically aggressive in the past, she turned downright violent toward me. It started by hitting me with the phone, throwing objects at me, kicking and clawing. She drew blood a number of times. Under advice from my attorney, I was warned that even taking a defensive position could be seen as an act of violence toward her. The ONLY physical action I took toward her was to restrain her from hitting or biting or kicking me. She was an expert at falling down and screaming -- "see kids, look at what your dad is doing to me."
Here's the kicker. I am a mental health professional, social worker and marriage and family therapist. I had blinders on like most guys. I interpreted her behavior as emotional disturbance, and would often sit up all night trying to comfort her after one of these episodes.
my lawyer looked at me like I was crazy when I told him ...
Why did I take it? I had a daughter that was small that was also screamed at and hit,and scared by stories of the bugger man getting her.I finally had to leave or get killed.
Grandmother was active in early women's rights, now urges men to speak out and act ...
My wife of almost 9 years was a woman of an incredibly short temper and possessed the ability to swing from mood to mood faster than you could shake a stick at. Over the years, she had thrown things at me, including knives, slapped me, punched me, and shoved me on numerous occasions. I had always felt a sympathy towards her because of the fact that she had no one in her life that truly seemed to care for her. I was going to be her protector.
I believe if this got around, their would be a stigma. Some embarassment toward ex wives and present lovers. I don't want my kids to hear these stories, or to have others in their world, discussing me regarding this issue.
I still don't understand why I stayed in that relationship as long as I did. I quess it was because she was such a great girl in every other way and I hoped she would change. I'm never going to go back into that kind of insanity again.
Funny, at the time I told myself I deserved it.
I was awarded temporary sole custody of my three children and possession of the marital home. My ex-wife was in shock and refused to leave ... Her attempts to provoke an incident increased. Finally one morning she cornered me alone in the kitchen and again began to punch me out after a nasty verbal exchange. Unfortunately, my 10 year old son witnessed this episode through a window while he headed for his school bus. I did not strike back. My ex then left and went to the police.
I was abused too many times and decided to end the relationship many times but I was unable to do so. Because she followed my each and every move and I was reluctant to file stalking charges against her because I did not want to hurt her feelings. The abuse intensified, she did not hesitate to hit me ... She also clawed me numerous time and even cut me with a knife. I was again failed to report the incidents to the authority. Many times she had threatened me that if I bring any charges against her, she would not hesitate to bring false charges against me ...
Her definition of the proper way to conduct an argument was to slap me around until I stopped disagreeing with her. ... However, I was willing to put up with it for the sake of her least until she started endangering them.

She screamed:

"I have never forgiven you for the way you looked at me the first time I hit you."

"How did I look?" I asked.

"You looked hurt and shocked and angry and disgusted."

"How should I have looked after you hit me?" I asked.

"I needed for you to understand how I was feeling at that time. I needed your support, not your anger," she said.

I understood then why she had never apologised for that act of violence or for any of her many other violent assaults.

She was brassy, outspoken and told me she liked "big guys". I'm 6' and weigh in at 230. She held a knife to my throat and told me to get out of the apartment. I would not dare move because I thought she would kill me....she would tell friends very publicly why sex with me was difficult. She would later say it was meant to be a compliment...kidding about the size of my genitalia. I wasn't laughing. Every success I had was met with derision. Daily my shirts were face was slapped...I was kicked....I was locked out. There was nothing I could do to make a difference. [After I left] she has told me repeatedly, "You're the only person who really understood me." The face I see as she speaks is still the one who held the knife.

Click here to read these men's actual stories.

Women, too, are victims of violent women. Domestic violence it taken too often to mean violence by men against women, or violence between adults. Whose stories don't get heard? Who can't get help? Women who were victims of violent mothers, who care the emotional scars far into adulthood. Here's one story about that.

Guys are raising a second concrern, not reflected in the stories. As domestic violence advocates are quick to point out, parents who abuse their mates are also very likely to abuse their children. Yet courts are awarding custody to the mother, even after she's been convicted of abuse. Here are two e-mails sent to me on that issue:

I am reminded of [a man] here in Sacrtamento who's ex-wife was convicted of DV one week and the very next week family court gave her 85% physical custody of his children. It is bad enough when the abuser gets any custody, but when she or he gets a greater percentage of the custody it shows that the courts are empowering the abuser. Even if the DV perpetrator doesn't physically abuse the children directly they nevertheless expose the children to domestic abuse which is child abuse. Perpetrators need to understand this and also realize that parenting is a privilege not a right.

My story is similar. My ex-wife pled guilty to battery, then was awarded sole custody of our three daughters by the divorce court judge.

One of her 'episodes' involved chasing me through the house with a kitchen knife. Three years later, one of my daughters threatened her sister with a knife (while at their mother's house). Children do learn and internalize what they see.

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.


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