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For Battered Guys

  A Post in Support of Battered Guys

Posted by Anonymous

From a July 5 1994 post to soc.men

Hi. I have some experience "working with" abused men. All the discussion about statistics is good, but slightly off base from my perspective. If you are a trained psychologist, please see "IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE?!" I'm not trying to supplant American psychology - I'm just doing what the American psychological community isn't - helping abused men. I would very much like to talk to a psychologist who wants to specialize in helping men.

I talk to abused men. Here is what I think. Please just consider this a core-dump on what I've seen and experienced with abused men and my resulting thoughts and feelings. If I sound upset, it is only because I am. Talking about it makes me think of these guys. And NO - I'm not gay. You don't need to be gay to talk to abused men or to be an abused man. It is ethereal to being abused.

It is an emotional issue, but please try to respond politely if you do. Thanks.

Re: the supposition that there are less abused men than are claimed.

The opposite is the case. There is nowhere for the abused man to go. First, it is my belief that physical abuse of a man is more damaging than sexual abuse due to the psychology of the average man. His self image is completely shattered. His confidence in his ability to "do" is completely destroyed. Symptoms of this are many and varied, but just as bad as that of a molested woman. When the abused man is asked to recall his experience in any way he will either 1) deny or 2) relive. If he denies, then he will say that he was not abused. If he relives, he may become hysterical. This is the case with some abused and/or molested women as well. 40 years ago, when a woman relived her abuse, and became hysterical, they were labeled hysterical and/or crazy. It was looked up as proof that the abuser had reason to abuse - after all, the abuser is nuts. When men become hysterical, they are labeled as crazy and/or dangerous. The abused man KNOWS this. So abused men are silent. So the abused man would tend not to talk.

There are other reasons why the abused American male is silent. He mentally blocks his experience. Yes, people can do this. If you don't believe it, find a war veteran and ask him/her what some of the people looked like that died. He/she may not be able to respond even if they spent days with the dead. The reason is blockage. It's too terrible to remember sometimes. It's that way with abused men. Television also portrays violence against men as normal - it happens all time. So he rationalizes it away. He thinks, I'm not living through anything extraordinary - even if he is. This is just a survival mechanism like blockage. It's too terrible to think about and there's nothing to be done - there is no help or escape - so the best thing is to forget. The men that do this aren't going to reply "yes" on a form or questionnaire even if the answer is, in fact, "yes".

Several months ago, I watched a news program - the 60 minutes type - in which a man and a woman talked about her abuse of him. She openly and fearlessly admitted that she had stabbed him in the back with a fork for "trying to leave". When asked why she said that "he deserved it" and that "he is a man - he can take it". The man was asked why he stayed with her. He said he had nowhere to run. This is common too. Society provides NO SHELTER for the abused man. I know a man who was stalked for 7 years by a mentally ill woman. During the whole episode the poor guy desperately tried to get rid of her. She followed him from university to university, from church to church. She chased all of his roommates, friends and dates away. He called the police - and they LAUGHED at him. Not believing myself, I posed as an abused man and I asked 2 lawyers for help. They suggested that I get help (mental help for me, not her). I called the abuse hotlines and they too suggested that I get help (for me - not her) and politely told me that I absolutely could not stay with them. I was intrigued with where this mental illness issue for abused men came from.

So I did some research. As it turns out, some women's group representatives have openly stated that most abused men are mentally ill. I also found out that this was a common reaction to women 30 years ago when they claimed abuse. The hotness or hysteria of her claim was used against her while all the while it was a symptom of abuse due to the destruction of self-image in abuse. Yet instead of learning from this in regards to men, we are told the same thing - abused men are mentally ill. It isn't just someone's opinion, it is what is being inflicted upon these poor guys every day. TRY IT - POSE AS AN ABUSED MAN. Faced with societies condemnation of the abused man, it is a completely rational response for the abused man to give up and remain silent at all costs. It is a common thing for an abused man. Most just give up and become cannon-fodder - as the man who was stabbed with a fork did. This isn't the men's fault. It is societies fault. Men are silent because if they speak they are vilified. If anything, the statistics are underrating the abuse of men. Abused women are accepted today and helped. Men are not so they are silent. It ISN'T PRIDE! That is YOUR pride talking. Abused men don't feel pride - it has been destroyed. They feel SHAME - soul shattering shame. They don't come because they are ashamed.

Men's constitutional rights

They are bypassed. I have seen abused men's rights in action - the only one that applies is the right to remain silent. If an abused man speaks, he is vilified and not protected. At some point, most abused men strike back physically. Most of the men I have talked to say that it is the worst rape of all - the destruction of his own limits. And most find that it doesn't help at all - the abuser MUST win and will do anything to get there. So many men simply give up, like the man stabbed in the back with the fork. It is easier to be an abused and silent man in America than to resist in any way. If the man speaks up, he has usually struck the abuser at some point. In America, that is sufficient, for some reason, to completely vilify the man and remove all of his rights - to his children, to his property etc. Even if the man has not struck back though, he is still guilty until proven innocent and can be tossed from his home like trash with a civil protection order. The victim is removed because he does not have innocence proving physical attributes - he is not a woman and is not smaller. America seems to be obsessed with size, as though smallness or physical weakness had something to do with mental stability or the desire to control.

Regarding testosterone, I have only this to say. Along with the strength and size issues, this is a common excuse for the abuser. Supposedly men are more aggressive because of testosterone. Women just must have more then, because the abusers use it as an excuse to abuse. It is ok, she says. I can abuse because he is stronger and larger and more aggressive. My own aggression is always a defense, she rationalizes. What is pathetic is that she is so fearless that she doesn't bother to hide her abuse. Most of the women will talk quite candidly about it all. It's my opinion that they are PROUD of it. "Yes", one said, "I cracked his skull. But he is bigger than I am so I had to." It doesn't have anything to do with logic. It is a simple manipulation strategy designed to engender support for her continued control of him. Male abusers deny. Female abusers manipulate you into supporting them and increasing his turmoil.

This effectively punishes the abused man for speaking. The message to him is simple: "You are a man and so for the following reasons you deserve to be physically attacked by someone who says she loves you. You are the blame for everything." This is exactly what the female abuser brains into the victim: "it is all your fault - I have to hit you." So society supports the abuser in her abuse in a very direct way. The words "testosterone" or "aggression" don't matter to her. What matters to her is her own continued and complete control. She is more than happy to get support in this matter from society.

How do you identify the abuser?

Things are simple now. If there is violence it is the guys fault. If the novel concept that men hurt when hit is considered, then things become complicated. How do you tell who started and is continuing the mess? Who started first: be Solomon - find out who wants to control and who wants to escape. Be careful of jargon. She is usually good at jargon twisting. Look at behavior. Look at recovery patterns. I am strongly of the opinion that many of the indicators currently used are there to simply identify the person with the male genitals - not the person with the abusive behavior. Men think and feel differently. The reasons - environment or genetics don't matter to the abused man. CONTROL and not genitals should be what the psychological community should look for. Example of gender bias in some psych tests: mechanical aptitude (a quality that men tend to score higher on) is associated with aggression. Why would spatial imagery make a person violent?

Regarding who's keeping it going: THIS ONE IS TOUGH. Some guys, having been mentally castrated, feel insecure being placed in situations where they are no longer completely controlled. They feel intense guilt and shame and will want to go back. I can't explain it. It just happens. One note: I think most situations are just simple wars - mutual power struggles. I don't think the men in these situations are quite the same. They are warped, but not completely broken by the violence. They need help, but not as much. Some men are completely controlled. Either way, though, it's HIS FAULT according to society. I think that society shouldn't need to make everything his fault in these mutual situations - it just didn't work and should be fixed or broken up quickly.

Caveats/Explanations

I am not saying that all men in abusive situations are innocent. I am not saying that all power struggles are caused by women. I have also talked to abusive men. I am not for ANY physical violence or complete control of ANYONE. What I am saying is that some MEN are being controlled and abused - not just the women. And instead of being accepted, protected and healed, they are actively destroyed by a prejudiced society. No, I am not a trained psychologist. I am just a man that likes to support hurting people. I wish that more trained psychologists WOULD help these poor guys. If anything good comes of this, I hope that I can find a psychologist who is interested and actively working with abused men - I WANT TO HELP. I don't want my son to grow up in a world where this can happen to him.

How do I talk with abused men when they are silent?

How do I end up talking to abused men? I can't explain it, but I can tell by the way they walk and their posture. Most of them would rather die than admit it to anyone, so I approach them. I am correct most of the time, but most don't want to discuss it at all, even after a long break in. It's kind of eerie when I see a victim. And yes, I can see women too. The best way I can describe it is.. they trail emotional blood everywhere and are often trailed by people that I would describe as social scavengers. I've thought about this phenomenon - seeing them even before they see themselves - and have come to the following conclusion. You probably see what I do, but your social mechanics pre-digest the information into a negative label which you discard as uninteresting information. It is the same effect that is referred to commonly as "radar" - it is the assimilation and association of subtle social cues.

One characteristic of all abused men is shame. I've never met a woman who could hold as much shame as these men do. It cripples them. Society amplifies it. It is as though their souls are crucified - they are nailed and held immobile by nails of shame. All of them say one thing - in one way or another: "I am no longer a man." I can see a mans shame. It's PITIFUL. They spend more effort hiding their shame than anything else. It is their last piece of humanity that they cling to.

I have no statistics to quote you. But I would say this. If you doubt what I say, try posing as an abused man and see for yourself what it is like. Don't believe me - put yourself in a frayed mood and try asking for protection from an abusive woman. See for yourself. By the time you are done talking YOU will feel ashamed - even though you're just posing. Think about what it would be like if you weren't posing and there was no escape from the situation!

General Observations

Female abusers seem to tend to look for victims who are either very logical or very idealistic. I think this is necessary for them because they need something to be fixed and immovable in the mans mind upon which she can crucify the man's self image. Another way of saying it: she needs a fixed mental referent to brace emotional levers upon. So I would suppose that they could be found lurking in intellectual institutions and churches with firm rules and/or ideologies. Most victims come from either background that I've seen at least. This is a tragedy. Some of the most intelligent and/or idealistically consistent men in our country are being systematically destroyed. America is now a cannibalistic society: we are feeding upon the minds of the men that would be our heroes.

I think it's a myth that abused men are wimps. They are only crushed into being wimps. Only one of the guys I've talked to one who started that way.

The abused mans intellect is affected. I don't know why. I just think it's true. It seems to be related to constant fear. But I have watched men recover and regenerate lost mental function. It's an incredibly rewarding thing to see. It's better than sex! There was a man - Fred I'll say - he was a genius, but couldn't succeed at anything since his abuse. I kept "fathering" him - and one day he came to me and just started crying and grinning like a fool. "My mind! My mind is mine again. It's all there. It's all there." He broke down on his knees and cried like a kid. I cried too. Fred said that what changed was that he realized that the worst thing that could happen would be his own death. He said that if that happened, he would finally be free. Fred has refused legal action - he is afraid that he will lose his job. I think he's right.

Fred has since been promoted twice and is thinking of starting his own company. This effect is very clear when an abused man starts talking about his abuse. His faculties - however generous - just evaporate. I can almost feel the abusers presence at these points. It is like she has her hands in his mind and is squeezing the life out of it.

I would say more, but I got interrupted and lost my train of thought.

Is There Anyone Out There?!

Hey. Before I go on, are there any psychologists out there that are interested in abused men and want to talk to me? I am interested in seeing men's' healing issues mature. If you aren't one, where can I find one that deals in men's abuse issues? Someone who knows what I'm talking about ALREADY. I feel very alone in helping these guys and would like to be able to send them to someone who WONT SHOOT THEM. And yes, most do and they think they're helping. Abused men have a different need/hurt/emotional-dynamic set than women. If you doubt that men aren't being healed and/or even recognized by the American psychological community, just look up "abused husband syndrome". You won't find it anywhere - at least I didn't. That is because the American psychological community denies their existence. If this weren't so, then it would appear somewhere in the manuals that are used to identify psychological problems.

If you don't have any background, and are a psychologist, please consider healing abused men. There are so many of them. And there are so few to heal them. The cost would be the controversy and the resistance of society. But the rewards would be a name in history. If you want to look into it, please do so, but do so with no preconceived notions. There aren't any - not much work has been done that I as a layman can see. That means that what you think just amounts to your own prejudice. Please try to look and learn in that order. Pioneers have a responsibility not to be axe-grinders because they set the tone for all that follow them. You may be frustrated at first because you can't find them. If so, it's only because you aren't looking hard enough. They're all around you. Look and see.

To the feminists:

If you are feministic ally oriented, please don't be defensive. Consider this. If abused men really exist - and they do - then also consider that an unhealed abused man may have a high probability of becoming an abuser or of raising abusers or victims. It is better for women that abused men are healed properly and completely in a dignified way. A healed abused man will respect your rights. An abused man will look at you as a person who can and will destroy him if given the opportunity.

It doesn't matter if you radiate consistency and fairness. His own mind was subverted and controlled by a woman - so he will have a tendency to not trust you or his own view of you. And for his own SAFETY - not a desire to control, he will have a tendency to try to dis-empower you so that he feels safe. By ignoring and/or opposing abused men, you are keeping them silenced. Silenced men cannot heal. Part of the healing process is recognizing that all disempowerment and total control strategies are wrong - regardless of gender. Which would you rather be doing? Creating allies or creating opponents? Think about it.