Tags: Health Topics | stigma | victimization

Do Battered Men Behave Differently?

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By Tuesday, 28 July 2020 07:09 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Men Respond to Domestic Violence Differently

True, most domestic violence cases we read about involve female victims. But men are victims too. I have prosecuted many women for abusing their boyfriends and husbands.

The question of how often men are abused, however, presents a challenge, because domestic violence is severely under-reported, especially by battered men. If such cases come to the attention of law enforcement at all, it is as a result of the actions of concerned friends, neighbors, or other witnesses.

Statistics Don’t Tell the Whole Story

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), between the years of 2003 and 2012, a much higher percentage of domestic violence was committed against females (76%) than males (24%). The BJS reports that only 56% of violence by immediate family members and intimate partners was reported to police, and that 77% of domestic violence took place at or near the victim’s home.Taken together, these statistics at first blush tell us that more women than men re victimized, only a little over half of the cases are reported to law enforcement, and that most domestic violence occurs behind closed doors.

But the untold story is the number of male victims who fail to report their victimization, and are consequently unaccounted for statistically. They also do not account for the different ways in which men are abused by women. Research provides some insight into the different dynamics experienced by battered men.

Men Experience Domestic Violence Differently

Elizabeth Bates in, "'Walking on Egg Shells': A Qualitative Examination of Men’s Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence" (2020) explored how men experience domestic violence from female partners. Using an online questionnaire, Bates explored, through a series of open-ended questions, men’s’ experiences of aggression: verbal, physical, and sexual, as well as coercive controlling behavior.

She found that although the men in her sample suffered aggression that sometimes resulted in injury, they reported that their most impactful experiences as stemming from being controlled by their female partners. This control included isolation from family and friends, gaslighting, control over basic freedoms, and the uncertainty of living with the prospect of daily abuse.

Men Suffer Different Types of Abuse

Babette C. Drijber et al. (2013) also examined what type of abuse is suffered by male victims. Studying an adult sample in the Netherlands, using an online questionnaire, they found that male domestic violence victims report being abused both physically as well as psychologically, most often by female (ex)-partners. Why didn’t they involve the police?

The most significant reason reported was the belief the police would not take any action.

Men Seek Help Differently

Because men who are abused typically do not call the police, researchers have investigated whether there are other ways in which abused men seek assistance and support.

Venus Tsui et al. (2010), studying help seeking behavior among male victims of partner abuse, discovered some common themes. Of note, they found that almost 25% of male victims did not use social services. Among those who did, the most popular resources were individual counseling and legal advice.

The least popular services used were internet sharing and group counseling.

Accordingly, Tsui et al. recognize the need to increase public awareness and education about men as victims, enhance the ability of service providers to address the needs of male victims, and increase the availability of gender-inclusive services.

Tsui et al. note that prior studies have explained that help‐seeking behaviors among male victims have been influenced by "societal perceptions toward gender differences that overemphasize men's physical capability to repel abuse, as well as societal expectations toward men's financial and physical ability to resolve their own issues."

They note that male victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) are challenged with attempting to reconcile their victim status with their perceived masculine identity.

They further note that their study results were consistent with past research to the extent that they found that most male victims fail to report their victimization because they do not believe others can help them resolve internal conflicts, or they consider the problems they are experiencing to be too personal.

New Directions and Resources

Learning more about male domestic violence victims informs best practices to dealing with this underreported and consequently under-served population. As we continue to learn more about how to decrease stigma and increase both services and support, we hope to be able to connect with and assist men who are suffering silently in abusive relationships.

This article was originally published in Psychology Today.

Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, PhD, is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ, and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance, and style. Her over 4,500 media appearances include major news outlets including CNN, Fox News Channel, HLN, FOX Business Network, and weekly appearances on Newsmax. She is author of Red Flags (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Reading People (Random House, revision). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin professionally with a rock band. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patricks's Reports — More Here.

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As we continue to learn more about how to decrease stigma and increase both services and support, we hope to be able to connect with and assist men who are suffering silently in abusive relationships.
stigma, victimization
Tuesday, 28 July 2020 07:09 AM
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