Domestic Violence Against Men

Domestic Violence Against MenIt is now readily recognised that 1 in 3 women will become a victim of domestic violence at some point in their lives but do men also suffer domestic violence? It would seem they do – but this fact tends to be neglected for two main reasons;

1. Males who are victims of domestic violence often see this as a slur on their manhood. A case of “It would be bad enough to be beaten up by a man but to be beaten up by a woman” which leads to very few men admitting it happened.
Unfortunately, this is the crux of the problem. Men can be so engrossed in being macho that they are reluctant to come forward and report domestic violence to police, welfare officials, etc.

2. Males who are the perpetrators of domestic violence often use being the victim themselves as an excuse. A case of “She hit me first so I hit her back”. This makes dealing with actual male victims much more difficult and on the few occasions when the police are called, it is the male victims, as opposed to the female perpetrators, that are usually arrested. ?

In 2007, the British Medical Association revealed that 2 out of 10 men have been victims of domestic violence and 29% of men in gay relationships have been a victim of domestic violence at some stage in their lives. But as far back as the 1996 Scottish Crime Survey, 4% of men living in Scotland have reported regular violence or threats from their partners or ex-partners.

Initially, you would expect to hear that the cases of Scottish women reporting violence or threats would be much greater when compared to men, but there is only a small difference: 6% of women compared to 4% of men.

Domestic violence against men has often been dismissed in the past with the phrase “there is no proof that it exists” or “she only hit him in self defence” however resources for information on violence against men can be found, although they are admittedly not as abundant as those for violence against women.

Reports and studies include;

  • Battered Husbands: The Hidden Victims of Domestic Violence, Stitt and Macklin, 1995.
  • The British and Scottish Crime Surveys.
  • Domestic Abuse Against Men In Scotland, Scottish Executive.
  • Abused Men Phillip W. Cook, 1997.
  • “Hitting Home”, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, 1997.
  • Northern Ireland Domestic Violence Forum: Male Victims of Domestic Violence, Brogden & Harkin, 2000.
  • The US National Violence Against Women Survey Tjaden and Thoennes, 2000.
  • The Scottish Partnership on Domestic Abuse for the Scottish Executive (Henderson, 2000).
  • Abused Men In Australia and New Zealand, Lewis and Sarantakos, 2001.
  • Domestic Abuse Recorded by the Police (Scottish Executive 2000, 2001).
  • Male Victims of Domestic Violence (The Home Office, 2003).
  • And information from the following studies: Gondolf, 1988. Hammerton, 1992. Straus, 1993. Newburn & Stanko, 1994. Cook, 1997. Hearn, 1998. Wolflight, 1999. Mirrlees-Black, 1999. Flood, 1999. Soothill et al., 1999. Brogden & Harkin, 2000. Gadd, 2000. Kershaw et al., 2000. Rennison & Welchans, 2000. Morrison & MacKay, 2000. Rome, 2001. George, 2001. MacPherson 2002.

Most of these studies have looked at male victims of female-on-male abuse and listed similarities in the range of degradation by the female partners of the men including flirting with other men, ridiculing the man’s sexual potency in front of others (including their children), damaging the man’s clothes, consistent threats to attack the man in their sleep, threats to harm children (both born and unborn), telling the police that self-inflicted injuries were caused by the man resulting in the man being wrongfully arrested and the threat of taking their children away from them.

Some of the men were even attacked by other men who had wrongly been informed that the woman involved was the victim.

The scope of physical violence endured by these men ranged from biting, scratching, punching, stabbing, having teeth knocked out, being scalded with boiling water, attacks to the genitalia and being beaten with home appliances and implements. Some of the men are still living with their abusive partners, in the majority of cases to protect their children.

Many of the men reported that their partners had consciously tried to injure them on the face and arms, making their injuries open to public scrutiny and the possibility of public humiliation and embarrassment. And in most of the cases, the abuse also involved sustained verbal, emotional and psychological forms of cruelty and, in common with female victims of domestic violence, many of the male victims stated that this form of emotional abuse together with the fear of violence was actually more devastating than the physical harm done, even on the occasions where this was extensive.

Some of these studies have tried to make sense of the female’s actions citing alcoholism, childbirth, post-natal depression, PMS, eating disorders, retirement and unemployment as factors to blame for instigating the violence however in one study, 40% of the men interviewed described the violence as their partner’s “normal behaviour”.

For help, advice or further information regarding Domestic Violence Against Men, contact the Men’s Advice Line or Respect. For a Personal Safety course specifically designed for male victims of domestic violence, contact The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety via our contacts page