Domestic violence is prevalent in the United States. Cases are on the news and in courthouses across the nation every day. What is not often talked about is domestic violence toward men and it is time for them to speak out. Any man–straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc.–should be allowed the same resources and protection as women. According to a survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2012, one in four males have reported being victims of domestic violence.
However, men are beginning to stand up for abused males and forging a pathway to safety so they can freely speak out. According to Bill Miller, an operator for Arkansas’ Domestic Violence Hotline, 20,000 calls come in a day; not a busy day, but an average day. Miller did not give the statistics on how many of those calls were men, but he told Channel 7 that the leaders of the Family Violence Prevention Center in Batesville, Arkansas, noticed there was a need in the community. The first shelter for abused men, registered by the American Coalition of Domestic Violence, opened on Oct.1, 2015. Miller manages the nine-room Taylor House.
The San Miguel County Board of Commissions (SMRC), in Colorado, issued a proclamation on Oct. 7, 2015, that begins, “Domestic violence is not simply a ‘woman’s issue,’ but a ‘human’ issue affecting men, women, children, families, and communities of all ages, races, religions, and income levels.” In a meeting on Oct. 6, 2015, the Telluride Town Council announced a similar edict. SMRC combats domestic and sexual violence through prevention programs, interventions, and education throughout the county. The SMRC fights because half of all murders in Colorado are caused by an intimate partner.
An American soldier was a male victim of domestic violence. He came home from war to his family and was consistently beaten by his wife with a belt. He knew there could not be any recourse for him physically, not even self-defense. He could not take his abuse to the authorities without hard and clear evidence. He bought a personal camera and took a few more beatings with the belt. Then, he presented the video to the court and his wife is currently in jail because he chose to speak out. According to the National Dessert News, this soldier told the court, “It seems to be overlooked when the man is the victim of domestic violence.” The American Bar Association, on record, declared, “An abused man faces a shortage of resources, skepticism from police, and major legal obstacles, especially when it comes to gaining custody of his children from an abusive mother.” This story gives this author hope that more male victims will come forward with their story. It is time for male victims to speak out.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) has spoken with abused men who were told as children that they were not allowed to show emotion. Men who were taught from a young age to be strong and man-up because they are not supposed to be victims.
Violence against men happens in the U.S. every day. According to NDVH, Jay-Z was assaulted by his sister-in-law, Solange Knowles. The controversy inspired people to start discussions online. The moment people knew Jay-Z was a victim of domestic violence, it became real and no one is exempt. Not those who are well-educated with high-paying jobs, not the famous either, and people thought differently about men being victims of abuse for a moment. According to the Mayo Clinic, as more men come forward about the abuse they have endured, it will open the doors of acceptance and understanding for more to freely speak out without the shame of stigma attached.
Signs of Domestic Abuse:
• The person becomes over-protective and controlling
• The abuse may start as isolated incidents complete with apologies and promises that it will not happen again
• Can include both partners hitting each other, which is still emotionally and physically damaging
• The abusive partner calls the other names, insults them, and/or put them down
• They will not allow their significant other to go to school or work
• Isolation from family and friends, gradually over time
• Controls how money is spent, what is worn, and where their partner goes
• Quick to jealousy, possessive, and constantly accuses partner of infidelity
• Gets angry when drinking or using drugs
• Threats of violence
• Physical abuse toward partner, children, and pets
• Forces partner to perform unwanted sexual acts
• Tells partner the violent behavior is their fault or they deserved it
In addition, men of alternative sexual orientations may experience different forms of abuse, such as:
• Their partner may threaten to reveal sexual orientation to co-workers, family, and others who may not know
• Being told the police will not help due to sexual orientation
• Justification of the abuse from their partner saying one is not of the sexual persuasion they claim to be
• Making claims that men are hard-wired to be violent
This list is not conclusive. If anyone experiences even one of the things on this list, the NDVH confirms that is abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). They also have a website as well, however, it warns that a computer can be easily monitored and the history cannot be completely erased.
Domestic violence is not just a male-on-female crime. There are male victims too. Sometimes it can be a male-on-male crime and it can also be a female-on-male crime. Speaking out against domestic violence may encourage others to come forward.
Opinion by Jeanette Smith
Edited by Leigh Haugh
CDC: National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) Funded Programs
US News: Sobering Stats for Domestic Violence Awareness Month
ABC7: Batesville Shelter Helping Men Who Are Victims of Domestic Violence
Source: National Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Learn More, Get Help, Be Safe
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