It happens more than you think.
COVID-19 has raised the awareness of many issues that have not been brought to the forefront in the past. One of them is domestic violence against men.
Family violence is a problem that many organizations, therapists, law enforcement agencies, and others have been working to combat and hope to eliminate.
However, due to the need to address the more widely reported abuse toward women and children, violence toward men is an aspect of the tragedy that goes largely unnoticed. Also, for many reasons, men experiencing abuse at home often never report abuse.
The resources for men who are in abusive relationships are growing, but society generally doesn’t think of men being in this type of situation. Men are usually physically larger and stronger than their female spouses, so society has not completely accepted that the “fairer” sex can be the offending party.
Stereotyping is not fair to either sex because each situation needs to be evaluated on its own merit. However, it happens and is often embarrassing for a man to admit that his wife is engaging in demeaning behavior.
Men are often viewed as the head of the household and the person in ultimate charge of the family.
Behind closed doors, there may be a different reality. A raging wife who demands control and uses her dominant personality to take advantage of her husband is just as guilty as a man who does the same to his wife.
Many abused men are like women in similar situations. They just try to deal with the reality that their home life isn’t perfect.
Men may have the added issue of being doubted when they report threatening behavior in their relationship. Furthermore, the stigma associated with ending a union that has achieved some status may provide yet another stumbling block.
Abusive men and women threaten their spouses with the difficulties of starting over as a reason to just suck it up and deal with it. The abuser considers their behavior to be their right, because you chose them until death do you part — a vow not meant to be broken.
Apologies are often made, but the resolve to change is never sincere and quickly forgotten. The excuse that, “I’m not that bad,” is often made, but every event gets worse until there is acceptance by the abused or there is a breaking point.
Alcohol or drug addictions and affairs can be side effects of abuse in the marriage. An alcoholic man was once asked, “Why do you drink so much?”
His answer was to point to his wife to blame her for his addiction. He claimed that coping with his wife’s abuse was the reason for his alcoholism. This answer is not acceptable because there is never an excuse for poor behavior.
An abusive woman may bite, kick, punch, verbally berate, or attack her spouse while he’s sleeping. These are just some of the violent behaviors common in these relationships.
A man protecting himself can hurt his attacker from his anger or simply because he is physically stronger than his spouse. The abused may even be the one charged with a crime if the offender makes a claim against him!
Solutions for domestic violence are never easy for either sex. When there are children and financial considerations along with a strong belief system in place, it is difficult to make a change.
The problem is that there is a point when the reasons for staying in a relationship enable the abuser to continue or even escalate the abuse.
One consideration for a father staying in an abusive home is the fear of subjecting the children to the wrath of their mother. It is not their fault that they are in this situation because of their innocence.
By remaining in the home, the father may feel that he is able to provide the children with some relief. However, the physical and psychological damage to them can be permanent.
When someone is under stress, making good decisions is difficult. While no one wants to be in this position, making a radical life change is not easy.
The choice rests with whether the abused person wants to heal from the abuse or continue to endure it. Both actions have consequences.
Men in all walks of life report the problem, and it’s finally being addressed. Domestic violence is not just in heterosexual unions, it’s showing up in same-sex relationships, as well.
The problem of abuse in personal and intimate associations is not new, but it feels that way because it is being highlighted in areas that aren’t traditionally recognized. The surprise is that abusive behavior is not limited to just men or to a few women.
No abuse is acceptable! The pandemic allows more inspection of the situation.
If you’re a man in an abusive relationship, you should seek help and advice. The problem will not solve itself, because you are dealing with a disorder over which you have no control.
It’s imperative that good proactive decisions be made for everyone concerned.
What men should do?
The best option is to engage in healthy behaviors which include keeping records, learning about your role in the problem, and addressing your issues first.
If you’re healthy, you can act appropriately toward your abuser and be a good example for your children. You might be surprised to learn that you aren’t alone and others you know suffer from this domestic violence issue but have chosen to remain silent.
This guest article was first published on YourTango.com: Why Domestic Violence Against Men Is Often Overlooked.