According to statistics reported by a CDC 2010 national survey (MenWeb), over 5 million men suffer from “severe” domestic abuse. Because women typically are viewed as “the weaker sex” we assume that a man can protect himself against them. But today’s laws, meant to defend women, often place the man in a difficult position when the tables are turned and women go on the attack.
An underreported crime
Husbands don’t report spousal abuse for several reasons, some of which are the same reasons why wives stay with their abusers. Financial dependence and wanting to keep the family intact for the children are among the top concerns. But an even stronger deterrent that keeps men from reporting is the social stigma of being bullied or beat up by a woman. The implication is “Can’t you defend yourself? You must be a wimp.”
“No one believed me when I told them my ex was hurting me,” said a man who now runs an online support group for battered husbands. “In fact, when I showed them a bruise, they would laugh.”
But while the bullied man still may find little social support, the good news is that today, the police are legally bound to treat spousal abuse with the same protocols, regardless if the victim is male or female.
Is is abuse?
Teasing shoves and playful slaps don’t seem like abuse. In fact, in early courtship, they can be signs of affectionate touching. But when it hurts, is intentional or will not stop when you tell her to stop, it is abuse. Whether on a physical (bodily injury), emotional (ridicule, guilt, forced sex) or psychological level (fear, threats) damaging behavior is abuse.
What to do if your wife abuses you
1. Don’t keep quiet about it. This is her problem. She is a batterer. You should not be ashamed about being the victim. You are not alone, but the more husbands step forward to bring this crime into public awareness, the more help will become available.
2. Keep a log of events. Include date, time, take pictures of any injuries, damages, bruises. If you can, record tirades on audio or audio-visual devices, even security cameras if you can do so steathfully. While it is not recommended that you endure abuse, you might need to show a pattern of behavior when they are milder episodes that have no physical evidence (slapping, shoving, yanking hair).
3. Don’t hit back. Shield yourself and call 911. Do not hesitate to file charges and have her arrested. Be sure to file a restraining order as well. This is vital, especially if you have children. In the event of a divorce, you will regret not having filed. Even if you do not think you will divorce, you need to show that you have the ability to do what is right to protect yourself and your children. Otherwise, your own rational mind will be in question, and you could lose custody of your children.
4. Get counseling. This is a difficult problem to manage alone on an emotional and psychological level. People often wonder why victims stay with their abusers. Typically, there are family, financial, and emotional/cognitive (self esteem, etc.) considerations that keep them from breaking away.
5. You can love her and help her, while protecting yourself at the same time. While it is admirable that you want to help her, do not subject yourself to abuse during her treatment. Move out. Generally, the road to rehabilitating an abusive personality is long, hard, and uncertain. Unfortunately, success rates for treatment programs are low.
Enduring abuse results in emotional, psychological, and spiritual scarring even after the bruises go away. Battered husbands who suffer quietly may believe they are doing the best thing for their families, but they often fall into depression and unwittingly model to their children that it is “normal” to allow someone to hurt you.
Here are some links to some good websites written from an abused husband’s perspective as well as useful tips for identifying a potentially abusive woman and a crisis hotline number: