Invisible Abuse Victims

invisible abuse victimsIn a majority of cases of heterosexual domestic violence around the world, it is often a man who is abusing a woman; however, a minority of cases are quite the opposite.[1] In fact, one in three abuse victims are male.1 Stereotypes often paint a picture of men being the abuser, as they are bigger and stronger, while women are weaker and gentler; however, stereotypes are just that—stereotypes.1

Women tend to abuse men differently than men abuse women.1 In fact, women often prefer emotional abuse tactics, making the abuse harder to detect.1 Women perpetrate emotional abuse through extreme mood swings, constant anger, withholding sex, name-calling, and public humiliation.1 While women rarely inflict physical abuse in the same way men do, it can still happen.1 Some women destroy possessions, bite, spit, strike with fists or feet, and use weapons.1 However, women are frequently excused for their behaviors.1

Even if a man does not sustain serious, or even physical, injuries from abusive episodes, the damage does manifest itself in other ways. Abused men are more likely to linger at work or after-work activities, not wanting to go home.1 They will often hide the truth about their relationship when asked how it is going, saying it’s great, for fear of appearing weak or inciting another abusive episode.1 He will often try to escape reality by reading, watching TV, playing video games, or even turning to substance abuse.1

Men who are abused are unwilling to trust others, have low self-esteem, are emotionally numb, and often depressed.1 In some cases, they are even suicidal.1 Their suicidal thoughts can lead to reckless behavior, such as reckless driving and extreme sports.1

Unfortunately, men who are being abused face an up-hill battle when reporting their abuse, as social stereotypes have painted a completely different picture.1 Even in well-developed countries like the United States, domestic abuse claims become suspicious when a man is reporting it.1

However, there are things that can be done. Leaving the abusive environment for a safe house or somewhere else that can provide effective protection is key.1 If children are involved, the authorities are legally obligated to protect them in cases of suspected danger.1 It is important for a man to never respond to the abusive behavior, as the abuser could react by calling the police and claiming she was abused instead.1 If possible, evidence of the abusive behavior should be collected and kept in a safe place.1 All incidents should be reported to the police, and a journal should be kept with a witness list, as well as all pictures of visible harm.1 Evidence is key to success.

It takes a while for abused victims to heal from the damage done to them, but seeking therapy is extremely helpful and can help you to take your life back…and finally smile again.1

[1] Ramos, V. (2014). Invisible Victims: When Men Are Abused. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 16, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/04/09/invisible-victims-when-men-are-abused/

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