Dr Rajive Gupta
All of us have heard and have been speaking about domestic violence against women during lockdown. Have you thought of domestic violence against men? This is one of the horrific crime that is happening to many men and is not a laughing matter. Violence against men consists of violent acts that are disproportionately or exclusively committed against men. Perpetrators can be a wife, girlfriend or partner but can also be children, parents or siblings. Men who are victims of domestic violence could be husbands, sons, fathers, grandfathers, nephews, uncles, brothers, friends, neighbours and colleagues from all walks of life and all ages. Remember that no one deserves violence. As with domestic violence against women, violence against men is against the law and is also a crime. If you are a man experiencing domestic and family violence, it is important to know that you aren’t alone . At an average, 1 in 3 men experience domestic violence and abuse in their relationships. Underlying reasons for domestic violence against men: Women’s physical violence against men is more likely motivated by self defense or fear and as a response to their partner’s own violence. Mental disharmony like my partner was not sensitive to my needs, i wished to gain my partners attention and my partner was not listening to me, poor anger management, patterns of dominating relationships, stress, depression and frustration, communication problems, borderline personality disorders, revenge, skill deficiency, feelings of powerlessness and biochemical imbalances pile up in the minds of women in day to day life and ultimately burst out in the form of violence and abuse against their men.
Common forms of domestic violence against men are
Physical assault (Battered husband syndrome). An abusive woman may slap, bite, scratch, punch, spit, kick, hit her partner with an object, throw things at her partner or destroy his possessions. To make up for any difference in strength, she may attack him while he is asleep or otherwise catch him by surprise.
Emotional and psychological abuse. Domestic violence against men is not limited to physical violence only. Emotional and verbal abuse can be just damaging. Your spouse or female partner may verbally abuse you or humiliate you in front of your friends, colleagues or family. Belittling remarks, yelling, screaming, putdowns, being ignored and constant criticism are common forms of psychological violence . She may accuse you of having an affair. She may be possessive, she may act jealous or harass you with acquisitions of being unfaithful. She may take away your car keys or medications and try to control where you go and who you see.
Limited decision making. She takes all the decisions related to finances, purchases, lifestyle and living arrangements made for you. She may try to control how you spend money. She makes false allegations about you to your friends, employer or police and find other ways to manipulate and isolate you from your family and friends by being unreasonably restricted. She may possess dominating behavior designed to deliberately frighten, harm or control you.
Helplessness of men experiencing violence by their partners. Domestic violence and abuse can have a serious physical and psychological impact. You may feel helpless, depressed, worthless, powerless and isolated. You may have feelings of guilt, shame and despair. You may find it hard to sleep or concentrate on tasks at work.
Men often don’t report abuse by women because they feel embarrassed or think they won’t be believed if they report. Men are sometimes regarded with suspicion by the very agencies that should be helping them. Men who report domestic violence can face social stigma regarding their perceived lack of machismo and masculinity. Additionally, intimate partner violence against men is generally less recognized by the society than violence against women, which can act as a further block to men reporting their situation. As domestic violence against men is among the most underreported crimes worldwide, it begs the question how many more men are actually suffering in silence.
Why men don’t leave abusive relationship: Many people wonder why a woman who is being abused in a violent relationship doesn’t just leave. When it’s man who is being abused, people are even more puzzled. But those who have experienced domestic and family violence know it’s never that simple. And that ending an abusive relationship is hard. It becomes even harder if you have been isolated from family and friends, threatened, manipulated and controlled and physically and emotionally beaten up. May be you have stayed in relationship because:
You have children. You worry that if you leave, you will never see your kids again or your partner may harm them or that getting custody will be difficult or you are not confident being a single parent.
You feel ashamed.Many men feel overwhelming shame that they have been overpowered by a woman and haven’t lived upto the title of protector and provider of the family. They feel ashamed as they have somehow failed in their role as a male, husband or father. They fear appearing unmanly, embarrassment and failure to live upto masculine ideals.
You have religious beliefs about marriage. You may feel committed to the vow you made during a religious ceremony.
You don’t have enough support to leave. You may feel that you won’t be believed if you go to police or other support services for help and you are afraid your family and friends won’t believe you either.
You are in denial. You may be hoping that your partner will change and believed her when she promised to change. But change can only happen once your abuser takes full responsibility for her behavior and seeks professional help. Protecting yourself as an abused male. The first step to protecting yourself and stopping the abuse is to reach out. If you are a victim, speck up today otherwise it may not ever ever go away. Talk to a friend, family member or someone else you trust. Admitting the problem and seeking help doesn’t mean you have failed as a man or husband. Support from family, friends as well as counseling therapy can help you move on from an abusive relationship. You may struggle with upsetting emotions or feel numb or disconnected and unable to trust another people. After the trauma of an abusive relationship, it can take a while to get over the pain and bad memories but you can heal and move on. Even if you are eager to jump into a new relationship and finally get the intimacy and support you have been missing,it is wise to take things slowly.
( The author is a Surgeon specialist in Jammu)
Dr Rajive Gupta