By Tabi Upton
Imagine this: A man shows up at a hospital with bruises, cuts and a strange accusation. “Doctor,” he says, “my wife has been beating me up for several months now. I need to talk with someone.”
You might think this was the opening line of a joke. Or you would assume he was lying, that he and his wife were either in a mutual fight or that he had been attacked by a woman acting in self-defense.
Though the majority of victims of domestic violence are women, a growing amount of attention is now being paid to men who are victims of abuse.
How can this happen? Men are generally larger, stronger and more intimidating than women.
According to the research, however, abuse is primarily about power and control, regardless if the victim is a man or a woman, and can take many forms.
Here are a few ways a person can wield abuse:
* Withhold approval, appreciation or affection as punishment.
* Criticize, name-call or shout.
* Take away the partner’s car keys or money.
* Regularly threaten to leave or to make the partner leave.
* Threaten to hurt partner or a family member.
* Punish or deprive the children when angry at partner.
* Threaten to kidnap the children if partner leaves.
* Abuse or hurt family pets.
* Harass partner about imagined affairs.
* Manipulate partner with lies and contradictions.
* Destroy furniture, punch holes in walls, break appliances.
* Wield a gun/knife in a threatening way.
* Hit, kick, shove, punch, bite, spit or throw things when upset.
One of the differences found in the abuse perpetrated against men is that most men don’t report because they are embarrassed and afraid of being laughed at or not believed.
Men who physically abuse tend to push, shove, beat up their partner or threaten with a gun. Women who abuse are more likely to throw things, kick, bite, hit with an object, threaten with a knife or actually use a knife. Women are also better able to use the system if abuse is reported.
Emotional abuse is sometimes more easily wielded by women, who may threaten to keep a man from seeing his children, purposely humiliate or embarrass him, or defame his character.
Though there are thousands of shelters for women who have been abused, there are no known shelters for men. This is obviously because most men are not dependent upon their spouses or domestic partners financially, though they are usually dependent upon them in some other way. Also, women are less likely to kill their partners when they attempt to leave, which sometimes occurs in the reverse situation.
There is now a hotline, however, that is tailored specifically to help men find resources, understand the abuse and find out what to do about it. IThe Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men can be reached at (877) 643-1120, pin 0757.
If you are a man struggling with an abusive partner, supporters say to never allow yourself to be provoked into retaliation, document everything, work with an advocate, get counseling and talk to friends and family who will believe and understand you.
Tabi Upton, MA-LPC, is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.