Domestic Violence Against Men

When the issue of domestic violence comes up, people often assume that a woman was abused and that the aggressor is a man. Although this is true in most cases, domestic violence against men is also common.

Domestic violence against men covers a broad range of violent acts. It comes in any form of abuse, such as physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or financial abuse. Unfortunately, these types of abuse are often underreported and overlooked because of the misconceptions that come with men being victims of abuse by their partners.

However, it is important to provide support and awareness to all victims of domestic violence, regardless of gender.

Can Men Be Victims of Domestic Violence?

Yes. However, domestic violence against men is usually only acknowledged when a high-profile incident arises. In most cases, it is when a celebrity comes forward to report the abusive relationship.

One of the few examples is when Johnny Depp presented evidence of domestic abuse against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, during their defamation trial. Another case is when Tiger Woods reported the physical violence perpetrated by his wife, who attacked him with a golf club.

Sadly, these incidents are often noted as merely isolated events. The male victim is usually perceived to have done something to deserve the abuse.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 10 men have experienced some form of intimate partner violence. During their lifetime, 1 in 3 men have encountered abusive acts.

These abusive acts include:

  • Physical abuse, such as slapping, shoving, or striking the victim
  • Emotional abuse, such as threatening to embarrass or expose information about the victim, the abuser threatening to harm themselves, or extreme possessiveness or jealousy
  • Financial abuse, such as controlling spending

The CDC also found that men frequently experience sexual violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Why Is Domestic Violence Against Men Underreported?

Male victims of domestic violence have an increased tendency to keep the abuse a secret.

Underreporting is usually because of fear of being ridiculed or embarrassed. Often, men also feel that no one will believe them. Unfortunately, there are also situations where the agencies meant to help victims of domestic abuse treat male victims with indifference.

However, awareness of domestic violence against men has grown, thanks in part to social media. Yet, training and education still need to take place, particularly between law enforcement agencies and the judiciary.

There is also less support for men facing this type of abuse. Shelters for men suffering from domestic violence are extremely rare, if not nonexistent. For instance, out of the 627 shelters available in Canada, only 6% of them admit male victims. Furthermore, no shelters are solely dedicated to men.

Moreover, a majority of the domestic violence programs available today are made for men in heterosexual relationships. However, it is essential to acknowledge that domestic violence also happens in same-sex relationships and against transgender victims.

What To Do If You're a Victim of Domestic Violence

Keep in mind that the laws that address this type of violence are gender-neutral. They apply equally to everyone. Regardless of the abuser's gender, a victim of domestic violence is still a victim. Men's rights to be free from experiencing domestic violence need to be protected in the same way that women's rights are protected.

However, when dating violence occurs, it is crucial to exercise self-restraint unless acting in self-defense. Ensure control of your physical actions and emotions unless physically attacked or in danger of being assaulted. This applies, in particular, to states that require at least one party to be arrested when police respond to a domestic violence call.

In most jurisdictions, the police officers will take the “main attacker" or "main aggressor" into custody. This is usually the abusive partner who started the violence. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the victim who, in exercising self-defense, caused a visible injury to the main aggressor.

Like female victims of abuse, men need to get out of abusive relationships. If mental health is compromised, seek help. Talk to family members or find ways to report the abusive behavior. Each state has various organizations where you can report partner abuse or physical harm. These organizations provide support to victims of interpersonal violence regardless of the victim's gender.

However, if you feel uncomfortable talking to anyone in person, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE.

Finding Legal Help

Everyone should be safe from domestic violence, regardless of sexual orientation and gender. If you are unsure of your options or need a restraining order, it is best to seek legal advice. A family law attorney in your area can help you understand the legal issues, your rights, and your options to protect yourself.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Victims of domestic violence can press charges against their abuser
  • The ability or requirements to press charges varies in each state
  • Contacting a family law attorney or advocacy groups for advice is essential

Some attorneys represent victims of domestic violence. Others defend the rights of those accused of domestic abuse or other related crimes. Many attorneys offer free consultations.

Find a local attorney