I'm a man and experiencing domestic violence
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If you're a man experiencing domestic or family violence, it's important to know that you're not alone. There are no official statistics on how many men experience violence and abuse in their relationships, but it could be as many as 1 in 3.
This includes husbands, sons, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, nephews, friends, neighbours and colleagues from all walks of life and all ages.
Men often don't report abuse by women because they feel embarrassed or think they won't be believed if they report it. Perpetrators can be a wife, girlfriend or partner but can also be children, parents, siblings and carers of all genders.
What does domestic and family violence look like for male victims?
The most common forms of violence and abuse against men are:
- Physical assault – slapping, hitting, scratching
- Emotional and psychological abuse – belittling remarks, yelling, screaming, put-downs, being ignored, constant criticism
- Limited decision making – having all decisions relating to finances, purchases, lifestyle and living arrangements made for you
- Social isolation – being unreasonably restricted from your family or friends
- Dominating behaviour – behaviour designed to deliberately frighten, harm or control you, for example: threatening to harm you, themselves or someone else.
(From MensLine Australia)
An abusive person may also bite, spit, throw things, destroy your belongings or hurt your pet. They may also control how you spend your money, act possessive and jealous and accuse you of having an affair, humiliate you in front of friends and family.
You may feel helpless, depressed, worthless, powerless and isolated. You may have feelings of guilt, shame and despair. You might find it hard to sleep or concentrate on tasks at work.
Remember that no one deserves violence. Domestic and family violence is against the law and is a crime. It's not your fault and you're not to blame for what is happening.
Why men don't leave abusive relationships
Many people wonder why a woman who is being abused in a violent relationship doesn't just leave. When it's a man who is being abused, people are even more puzzled. But those who've experienced domestic and family violence know it's never that simple. And that ending an abusive relationship is hard.
Maybe you've stayed in the relationship because:
- You have children – You worry that if you leave, you'll never see your kids again or your partner may harm them. Or that getting custody will be difficult or you aren't confident about being a single parent.
- You feel ashamed – Many men feel overwhelming shame that they've been 'overpowered' by a woman and haven't lived up to the title of 'protector and provider for the family'.
- You have religious beliefs about marriage – You may feel committed to the vow you made during a religious ceremony.
- You don't have enough support to leave – You may feel that you won't be believed if you go to the police or other support services for help, and you're afraid your friends and family won't believe you either.
- You're in denial – You may be hoping that your partner will change and believed them when they promised to change. However, things will only change when the abuser takes responsibility for the abuse and violence, and gets professional help.
What you can do
The first thing you can do is to acknowledge that you are in a abusive relationship. The second step is to realise that you can do something about it. Here are some next steps:
1. Report it
Report the abuse to the police, your doctor or lawyer. They will know what your rights are and how to put you in touch with someone who can give you expert advice. Getting help doesn't mean you've failed as a man or as a husband and partner. You are not to blame. It is not your fault. The abuser is responsible for choosing to use violence in the relationship.
2. Get support
Find someone you trust and can talk to about your situation. Telling someone about what's happening can help with your feelings of helplessness and isolation. You might be able to talk to a friend, a coworker or a professional counsellor. You can also call MensLine Australia, 1800RESPECT or Men's Referral Service. They have trained counsellors avaliable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
3. Create a safety plan
A safety plan is a course of action you can take if faced with violence or harm not only to yourself, but also to children and pets. A safety plan answer questions such as:
- At what point is home no longer safe and you need to leave?
- Where will you go that is safe?
- Will you take the children with you? Do you have the right to take the children with you?
- Have you told someone about your safety plan? A trusted friend? Your mother? A neighbour?
- Pack an emergency bag that includes items you'll need when you need to leave, such as important papers, medication, extra clothes, keys.
4. Keep a journal
Write down everything that has happened. This may be useful if you are seeking legal protection or police help.
Read more about domestic and family violence against men: