Domestic violence is a prevalent issue in society that affects people of all genders. Despite this, the perception that men are only perpetrators of domestic violence and women are only victims remains a widespread belief. So rather than complaining about how hard men have it, let’s explore the issue, offer some solutions, and begin to support men how they really need it.
THE DV ISSUES FACING MEN
Brace yourself. An estimated 1 in 3 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 1 in 7 men have experienced life-threatening physical violence from an intimate partner. A study conducted by the Allstate Foundation found that approximately 1 in 4 men have experienced financial abuse in a relationship, which is logically likely to increase with the number of men in at-home roles.
SEXUAL ABUSE & MEN
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 1 in 6 boys will experience sexual abuse before the age of 18, usually by a family member. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), approximately 1 in 10 men in the United States will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Since men are stereotyped as hypersexual, they are expected to accept all sexual advances. This leads to many men have sex they actively don’t want and enduring less invasive sexual assaults to not offend or be labeled neglectful. This forced sex opens them up to reproductive abuse since men lose all control over their reproductive rights once their sperm is in someone else.
WHAT MAKES MEN MORE VULNERABLE
According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), approximately 14% of adult men in the United States have "Below Basic" prose literacy skills, meaning that they have difficulty with tasks such as understanding a job application or reading a newspaper. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2019-2020 academic year 17% of boys failed to graduate. One fifth of the 600k homeless people in America are men, another fifth are boys under 18. Many men choose military service over homelessness or for more opportunities in life only to end up mentally scarred and discarded – there’s 19 million living vets. Many men also end up in jail while trying to survive or avoid homelessness.
Then you must consider that most of these numbers are known not to be representative of reality due to under-reporting. And types of domestic violence men experience more often like reputation destruction, personal property damage, psychological abuse, & covert/emotional incest are all understudied and underweighted in how they affect men.
BARRIERS TO SUPPORT
Men also face larger barriers than others in accessing support. Put simply, there’s two resources for them. All other domestic violence shelters, support groups, and hotlines are geared towards and staffed by women, making available options automatically hostile to any men. Men fleeing with children risk the charge of kidnapping. Without adequate resources and support, these men are often forced to stay in the abuse or find themselves homeless. This is all without considering the extra complications added for queer men, those with criminal records, veterans and the undereducated.
In addition to the lack of resources, men who experience domestic violence also face significant social, cultural, and psychological barriers that make it difficult for them to come forward and receive help. The belief that men should be strong and able to protect themselves, coupled with the perception that domestic violence is a "woman's issue," can prevent men from acknowledging and reporting their abuse. Many men fear that they will not be taken seriously or that they will be perceived as weak or less manly if they reveal that they have been the victim of domestic violence. This can make it difficult for men to talk about their experiences and seek help.
A LACK OF CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE
It is important to note that people don't know how or care to respond to sad men. In America and worldwide, stoicism in men is still a highly desirable characteristic. Since men are still relied on for the most perilous, emotionally challenging jobs, and infrastructure crucial jobs, it would destroy society if men were allowed to wallow in emotions vs being the reliable workhorses we need. Plus, we expect them to know how to do everything, including take care of their emotions well enough that no one ever sees them. This stereotype can prevent people from recognizing that a man is a victim of domestic violence, even if he is visibly suffering. Furthermore, the lack of attention given to male victims of domestic violence means that there is a lack of understanding about what they are going through and what kind of support they need.
LET’S FIX THIS
First, let me provide all the resources I could find for men specifically. The list is short but take that as inspiration to help solve this problem vs feeling disappointed. Making more resources will help prove the authenticity of the anti-dv movement and bring more people to our side.
RESOURCES SPECIFICALLY FOR MALE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
1. Taylor House for Men 24 Hour Hotline: (870)-569-8024 - America’s ONLY shelter for men opened in 2017. Also known as Batesville Family Violence Program in Batesville, Arkansas. Some of the services they offer include emergency shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, and support groups. They also provide education and outreach to raise awareness about domestic violence and the impact it has on men.
2. The Men's Resource Center for Change: (413) 527-6767 - This organization provides support, resources, and advocacy for men who have experienced domestic violence. They offer a variety of services, including support groups, legal advocacy, and referrals to other resources.
Now that you realize just how shit the situation is, please go into this with open eyes. Some people do not want these programs to exist. I offered my local DV shelter cash money to put on some sort of support group for men and received crickets. I still support them monthly but damn that hurt – be prepared. Regardless, please spread the message of the two groups that do exist and need funding. Please also donate to them directly so men can more support specifically.
THE MALE EXPERIENCE IN MEDIA
Next, we need more media that addresses the issues facing men specifically and personal stories of men’s experience with DV. If you have a blog, please copy these resources so there’s more links in Google. I have searched on and off since 2016 for these resources and only found them thanks to ChatGPT.
Please, if you are a victim and feel strong enough, speak up - share your story. Make art around the topic. Include the storyline in your next tv pilot, pitch a story to your editor, paint out your pain. Get our experience out into the public consciousness.
LEAD IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS
We need to have public and private conversations. Talk to your male children and let them know it’s not ok for them to get hit, gaslit, and isolated in relationships. Make sure they know what it looks like when masc and femme people, note the differences. Let them know to leave at the first sign. Train your boys to be mentally resilient in a world that seeks to knock them off their intuitive life path.
Lastly, it is also crucial to change the way that people respond to sad men. Men never want to feel victimized or pitied, they want to feel empowered, supported, seen, heard, valued, and understood. Tell them you see their pain. Tell them they are right to want to leave. Offer your couch or a stay at a hotel. Hire them for work so they have their own resources to leave.
Speak up to your friends when you see them being hurt by their intimate partners. For men, their hobby acquaintances, friends, and coworkers are usually closer to them than family. You have to be brave enough to step and let them know they deserve respect, softer care and genuine love. Be brave enough to give them that love too.
Male victims of domestic violence face a unique set of challenges and barriers when seeking help. Despite this, there is still a lack of recognition and understanding about the issue of male victims of domestic violence. By raising awareness and creating resources and support services specifically designed for men, we can help to break down the stigma and shame associated with being a male victim of domestic violence and empower men to escape abuse and rebuild their lives.