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
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
So I did some research. As it turns out, some
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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
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
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
healing issues mature. If you aren't one, where can I find one that deals in
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.