The vast majority of recorded incidents of domestic violence are of men on
women. Society, although aware of the male victim, treats him as a joke.
In realty he is a man in fear, a man in isolation, a man stigmatized as
weak. Why? Because he does not conform to the stereotypical male image.
In law, a male victim faces two obstacles; firstly to prove he is a
victim, and secondly, to ensure that his children are protected and do not
become the new victims. Men very often remain in an abusive relationship
for the sake and protection of their children.
Most men react by staying silent. Often this silence is encouraged by
factors such as fear of ridicule and the realization that it is unlikely
his partner will be evicted. Even when a man has proved he is the victim
it seems his only course of action is to leave the home. He is then
separated from his children and often experiences difficulty in obtaining
realistic and regular contact with them. He is in fact treated as the
perpetrator rather than the victim.
Fighting the myths
Modern medicine is aware of certain conditions which may cause people to
be violent but we expect such sufferers to seek help or medical treatment.
Men are expected to take responsibility for violence and abuse but no
excuses are accepted. Yet when a female is violent society provides a list
of excuses: Post-natal depression, stress, PMT, eating disorders,
personality disorders, menopause, addictions, childhood traumas,
provocation, self-defense etc. Although most men will be sensitive to
these problems, they should not have to suffer violence as a consequence.
When a woman is violent and abusive in a relationship, it is not
necessarily assumed that she is a bad mother. If a man is violent towards
his partner, it is automatically assumed that he is an unfit parent. The
law presumes that the children are almost always better off with their
mother. Consequently the only options for men seem to be to put up with
the abuse or to leave the home, since under the law there is no real
protection for them.
If a male victim seeks help, society should offer the same protection and
help to him and his children as is given to female victims. Women should
be judged by the same standards as men, and women who are violent should
be held legally responsible for their actions.
How men cope.
Men in abusive relationships employ various methods to attempt to diffuse
potentially violent situations;
*go into another room or lock themselves away in a safe place
*leave the dwelling, go to family or friends (but tell no-one the real
*sleep in their car, shed, garage or wherever they can find shelter
*promise to do whatever she asks or demands *accept responsibility for all
sorts of untrue accusations *cover up for their violent partner
These are all survival tactics but will not stop the attacks. However,
most men will do anything in the vain hope of stopping the abuse. What
they fail to do is to record the incidents, injuries or pattern of events.
They fail to tell any family members of the situation and make excuses for
their injuries even when they attend the hospital or the doctor. They fear
the humiliation and stigma of disclosure even when the abuse is life
How society reacts.
If men attempt to report incident of abuse they are met with blatant
discrimination, disbelief, gender bias and comments such as the following:
"You must have done something terrible to her to deserve
"Look at the size of you! Maybe she was just defending herself"
"We can't arrest her - what about the children?" Or
"Why don't you just leave?"
"Give her time to calm down"
Society seems to want these men to go away because there is no simple
solution to their plight and there are no support system in place to deal
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NOT A GENDER ISSUE - IT IS A SOCIAL ISSUE
AFFECTING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN.
We cannot expect to find real solutions to the problem while it is
treated solely as a women's issue.
What men should do
*Always keep a record of dates and times of incidents. *Always report the
violence to your doctor and to the Gardai - ensure that they record your
injuries and all the details of the assault
*Always seek medical
attention for any injuries - do not cover up the true cause.
*Always take legal advice
*Do tell your family and friends what is happening to you.
*Do not be provoked into retaliating
*Do not be provoked into retaliating
With practical advice and support, male victims will hopefully be given a
better understanding of their situation and will be empowered to make
positive decisions about their relationships. Once they understand all the
options, each man can decide to do what is right for him. This becomes
easier when he is no longer isolated in the violent situation.
Male Victims Of Domestic Violence Facts
Male Victims come from all walks of life, social backgrounds and cultures.
Male Victims suffer society's stigma for not protecting themselves
Male Victims become depressed in their isolation, feel suicidal and
sometimes take their own lives without disclosure
Male Victims are victimized because they fail to conform to the Macho man
Male Victims are perceived as wimps
Male Victims are disbelieved because they are men
Male Victims are refused the status of victim
Male Victims are caring, sensitive men, good fathers and providers. They
want help for the abuser not further abuse from society and the caring
Male Victims are removed from or asked to leave their homes because it is
the easy option.
Male Victims have no support systems in place. They have no
A MORI Poll published in 1997 found that 18% of men were abused by their
female partners as against 11% of women abused by their male partners.
© Eastern Health Board
Published on 12th October 1998
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Confidential advice line for Men in violent relationships
HELPLINE: 046-23718 [Republic of Ireland only]
(Call Helpline for daily information on opening times. Answering machine
at all other times.)
M. T. Cleary,
10 St. Patrick's Terrace,