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Nancy Schimelpfening

Battered Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence

By August 31, 2013

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Often we tend to think of domestic violence as something that happens to women. Investigators at the Group Health Center for Health Studies, however, say domestic violence against men is "under-studied and often hidden".

In a study published in the June 2008 American Journal of Preventative Medicine, the researchers presented data which contradicts five commonly held misconceptions about domestic violence against men:

  1. Few men experience domestic violence. The truth is that it is more common than believed. When 400 randomly sampled men were interviewed by phone, lead researcher Dr. Robert J. Reid and his colleagues found that 5% had experienced domestic violence in the previous year, 10% in the past five years and 29% at some time during their lifetime. Domestic violence was defined as both physical abuse (slapping, hitting, kicking or forced sex) and non-physical abuse (threats, constant disparaging remarks or controlling behavior).
  2. Abuse of men has no serious effects. Even though women are more likely to be physically abused than men, the researchers found that men who were abused - even if the abuse was non-physical - suffered serious, long-term effects on their mental health. Depressive symptoms were nearly three times as common in older men who had experienced abuse than in those who had not.
  3. Abused men don't stay with their abusers. Women, especially those who have children or are financially dependent upon their husbands, often stay in abusive relationships. The expectation held, however, is that men would be better able to leave their abusers. "We were surprised to find that most men in abusive relationships also stay, through multiple episodes, for years," said Dr. Reid.
  4. Domestic violence only affects the poor. Not so, say the researchers. Their study showed that people from all walks of life are affected.
  5. Ignoring it will make it go away. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away, however, many men are ashamed to speak out about abuse because of society's expectations that men are strong and in control. The researchers found that older men were less likely to speak out about their abuse than younger men.

In a press release, the researchers made it clear that they did not want to downplay violence against women. "Our team is concerned about abuse of people: of women as well as men," said Dr. Reid. In fact, the men who were interviewed were asked the same questions that had been asked of women in a previous study about domestic violence against women.

If you are a man or woman who has been abused by the significant other in your life, help is a phone call away. You can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Photo Credit: StockTrek / Getty Images

May 21, 2008 at 5:27 am
(1) Cornelia Vodoiu says:

We can stop the war. The war is a spirit cancer.Every country must invest in EDUCATION.A real solution for eliminate THE VIOLENCE is to recognize the INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. We can help! With kind regards, Professor+chemist+officer Cornelia Vodoiu Timisoara – Romania.

May 21, 2008 at 9:28 am
(2) John Condron says:

Murray Straus and other highly respected scientists have been taking abuse from feminists for decades for their research, clearly demonstrating that domestic violence is not a gender issue. Half of all domestic violence is mutual, and when it is one-sided, it is actually more likely to be initiated by women! But, because violence by men is more likely to result in injury, and because men are far less likely to report, official (i.e., criminal justice) statistics tend to overrepresent male violence. Domestic violence has become an “industry,” and it is politically incorrect to question the feminist dogma that squarely places the blame on men, and ignores any evidence to the contrary. This must change, if we are to make progress in reducing domestic violence, which is actually a crime against children!

May 21, 2008 at 10:16 am
(3) Terry W says:

what if the spouse or ex-spouse has been continually battered emotionally? My ex took my daughter (with husband #3) to Florida in ’98. I was 5 yrs recovering alcoholic, working my program to the max. The new husb. was psycho, refusing any telephone contact with my daughter/ (I can see why ex’s are killed w/suicide now) I went to MHMR which saved my life with correct meds. However, my ex took me to court twice more increased child support. I was living in poverty but the judge suggested I live in a pup tent!! Since 2002 my girl now lives with stepdad #4 and mom in Phoenix! I have only been able to see her approx 42 days TOTAL since 1998, mainly due to financial reasons, two plane tickets (I bought for her were never used ) The miracle is I’m still sober (14yrs) haven’t shot anyone, and my daughter and I talk often by phone.
Here;s one more kicker, I am on SSI disability which is nothing, and the Atty Gen STILL threatens me, even though my daughter is 21!! Thank you God and AA!

May 21, 2008 at 10:17 am
(4) Terry W says:

what if the spouse or ex-spouse has been continually battered emotionally? My ex took my daughter (with husband #3) to Florida in ’98. I was 5 yrs recovering alcoholic, working my program to the max. The new husb. was psycho, refusing any telephone contact with my daughter/ (I can see why ex’s are killed w/suicide now) I went to MHMR which saved my life with correct meds. However, my ex took me to court twice more increased child support. I was living in poverty but the judge suggested I live in a pup tent!! Since 2002 my girl now lives with stepdad #4 and mom in Phoenix! I have only been able to see her approx 42 days TOTAL since 1998, mainly due to financial reasons, two plane tickets (I bought for her were never used ) The miracle is I’m still sober (14yrs) haven’t shot anyone, and my daughter and I talk often by phone.
Here;s one more kicker, I am on SSI disability which is nothing, and the Atty Gen STILL threatens me, even though my daughter is 21!! Thank you God and AA!

May 21, 2008 at 12:20 pm
(5) Steve C. says:

I can relate to the article first-hand. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and marriage for a total of 13 years. Why didn’t I leave or get help? Because my ex-wife always told me to “quit being a baby” and “be a man”. These were just 2 of her emotionally demeaning tactics. I finally did leave, but had to leave my 4 children behind also. But she spent much of her time demeaning me in front of them and it continued after I left. Consequently, I don’t have much of a relationship with my children; they are still holding Dad responsible, as they were trained by their mother. Oh, and after I left I finally was forced to get help: I have now been disabled according to Social Security Disability and my physicians for the last 16 years due to chronic major depression, an anxiety disorder and PTSD, all from being exposed to this toxic relationship for so long. I have taken anti-depressives and other similar meds for the past 16 years also. Have I gotten any better? Not really.

May 22, 2008 at 11:39 am
(6) Chris Troxell says:

I did not realize for the longest time that what I was experiencing was verbal and emotional abuse. During marriage counseling, it was the counselor that first suggested the things I was sharing with her described abuse.

I’d found a web page that originated in the UK while doing research on Workplace Violence titled “Bullying in the Workplace.” While reading it, the author also offered up a separate article describing bullying in the home. I read it and, wah-lah! THAT described my situation, almost to a tee.

The marriage failed though a lot of effort was put into couples counseling. After my ex-wife refused to go any longer, I returned one last time for closure. It was shocking to see her reaction when I informed her my ex had made a point to show me a brand new .38 auto that she’d bought just a couple of weeks before I moved out. That represented to me the culmination of all the manipulative, digging, and demeaning comments I was on the receiving end of.

We went our own ways and today my life is far better. In the aftermath, I learned about self-care and setting boundaries. I must say I’ve been shocked myself several times since when I relay memories to a therapist or loved one and they see clearly I’m describing an abuse. Why am I so unable to see it sometimes? But today, I’m extremely happy to say I’m in a healthy relationship with the love of my life and we have the best of relationships. And, there is no abuse, at all!

Chris T – Stanwood WA

June 2, 2008 at 10:01 pm
(7) Svasti says:

For men – if you’ve never seen “Book of Revelation” starring Tom Long, then you should.
Its an Australian movie and it affected me very much. Its a fictional but very brave portrayal of what abuse can be like for a man. By the end of the movie, he is only just beginning to start the healing process.

I saw it at the cinemas after I had been assaulted myself (I’m female), and I found much that I recognised in what happened to me.

My suggestion for anyone who has been assaulted or abused (male of female) is to not push aside how you feel. Don’t trivialise what you’re going through. And definitely get the health care and nurturing you need.

July 21, 2008 at 9:48 pm
(8) mitchell williams says:

My name is Mitchell Williams from Murfreesboro, TN. I have an urgent family related legal issue and the court case is coming up soon on July 28th. In summary My wife fled and hid with the kids for no reason, or so I thought. She is now saying that I will sexually abuse them and even has the audacity to claim i did force myself on her… not only am I heart broken that she has alienated my 3 lovely children from me, but now that the divorce is upcoming she is claiming “forced sex” allegations, I did not understand what this meant, but looked it up on a legal website, and apparently it is also called spousal rape…. I am devastated at all of this, and not only this but she claims i was trying to force her to allow me to have a second wife! She is a lying husband beating treacherous woman who has been diagnosed with disassociative identity disorder aka multiple personality disorder, and this is why I need your help. Please help me or put me with some one who can, for the sake of Justice, and these kids who will never know a good and true loving home if we do not act.

Thank you.

Mitchell A. Williams
615-275-7609 cell
615-713-1972 home
615-890-3300 work

February 20, 2009 at 1:42 am
(9) bpan123 says:

I will NOT continue to accept the abuse I was in. HE SHOULDD BE BURNED!

October 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm
(10) Boss says:

borderline women are volcanoes with eruptions of domestic violence.

August 25, 2010 at 8:49 am
(11) Name Withheld by Request says:

Yes, there are men who are physically abused by their wives and while it may be rare a more common experience of millions of men is the relentless verbal abuse by their wives. For over 25 years I have experienced this. I’m not talking about the “nagging” or complaining that has become the topic of hundreds of jokes, but serious verbal abuse, i.e., berating, belittleing, demeaning and the constant accusations of failure and falling short. Sometimes it may even lead to being physically struck when the anger boils over and the woman hits her husband after her long tirade of demeaning and abusive words. The psychological and emotional toll that this takes on a husband is ignored in most quarters. But there are many husbands that walk among us that suffer depression and all the symptoms that accompany it because of the verbal abuse of their wives. I know many women who would not tolerate verbal abuse from their husbands so why is it Ok for wives to verbally abuse their husbands? There is a double-standard and it stinks!

August 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm
(12) Darlene says:

I have live in a relationship with a man who was abused at his school in the fifties in Britain. I have lived with someone who hasn’t grown up and is a nagging, has mood swings and controlling. I survived by learning to fight back. It has affected our children and has damaged our marriage as I am no longer willing to be a participant in the abuse. I don’t give him ammunitions for the controlling behaviour. The icing on the cake came when he thanked his former school Principle for hitting him and told him it made him a better man! It is easy to say go but as Dear Abby said for a woman who lose 72% of their income, are you better off with them or without them. If you are young and can create a new life then you should go, kids or not if you are older and you will end up with in poverty it is better off to stay. Know one lives forever. I have spent a life time in therapy and have health issues but I remind myself what my Father said and he said never keep a gun in the house.

March 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm
(13) Elka says:

There is a helpline which helps ALL victims of domestic violence, but specializes in battered MEN. It is “The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women.” Its telephone number is
1-8887HELPLINE, and its website is http://www.dahmw.org.

May 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm
(14) Sandy Carveth says:

I just did a report in a sociology class on this subject. I am appalled of the attitude that women have towards men. Especially when there is so much abuse from women towards men. Womens lib has gone too far and caused problems for both sexes. Men are becoming a minority in society. I believe that they are the least protected sexes. Have you seen any shelters for abused men? How long would someone be allowed to work if they spoke about a woman the way men are commonly spoken of or to in the work place, public place, etc.? I feel for men in our society!

May 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm
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August 30, 2012 at 8:47 am
(16) William says:

I think this lady needs to sue her psychiatrist. No one does this because they are so distressed and non-functional. I think is psychiatrists don’t listen to how their patients are reacting to medicince they should be sued for malpractice. I am not saying that everyone should sue at the drop of a hat, because these medicines are not an exact science However, I have heard so so many times of psychiatrists not listening to how their patients react to medicinces and ignoring how they are reacting. I do know psychiatrists have a hard job though and some may mean well, but they are limited by what the medications can do.

September 19, 2012 at 11:55 am
(17) Annie says:

My sister abuses her husband. She has for years. I’ve never understood why he enables her behavior. At first I thought it was because of their daughter who is now in her twenties..but he continually plays that card to stay with her. She is verbally and has been physically abusive to him. He such a kind man. We’ve tried to talk to him about it, but he refuses to do anything. She has hit him, yelled at him in public humiliating him and everyone around her, jumped out of their vehicle while it was moving and quit her government job 10 years ago so stay home…. leaving him to work 3 jobs… Yes! 3 JOBS! And still…he stays with her….I don’t get it!? .

September 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm
(18) Worried Mom of battered man says:

Recently, our son revealed to us that his wife was physically, mentally, emotionally abusive to him through all of their six year marriage and now she’s demeaning him in front of their very young children. He was more worried about the effect it was having on them than his own self and admitted he wanted out of the marriage for that reason. We were stunned but not surprised by his revelation. We suspected something like this was going on, just not the extent of it. We urged him to get help even if she refused, but he went back and now we hardly have contact with him. We’re very concerned for him and the children, but there doesn’t seem to be much support for men going through this and we fear he’s just gave up and gave in to keep the peace. He’s a muscular guy and would never think to hit a woman back, but he’s becoming so isolated we’re not sure what may happen if he someday snaps. He was so ashamed to even tell us about this and quite frankly I didn’t know how to help him. He went from being a laid back, happy person to someone I don’t recognize. Very sullen and withdrawn. Very scared for him and our grandchildren. She acts like everything is normal to aquaintances, but now they only see her family members now that the cat’s out of the bag.He rarely sees friends or his own family anymore. Any suggestions from men who have been there? Grateful for any help. Thanks.

October 2, 2012 at 3:08 pm
(19) Jerry says:

Worried Mom:

You described entirely my situation 6 months ago. Your son likely returned because he fears for his children and he thinks no one will believe him if it comes to an ugly divorce.

He is likely traumatized and cannot sort this out by himself. She will accentuate his isolation. Men have less of a social safety net in those instances. For example, the rare friends I have left are mostly other mothers also friend with my wife; I cannot share my problems with them. I am isolated but it took me a while to realise it. Make it easy for him to communicate with you; call him! Let him talk about his situation. Convince him to see a psychiatrist.

That was me six months ago. I finally decided to ask for divorce; only after I got a diagnosis of PTSD from our marriage counselor (the best piece of evidence as it comes partly from my wife’s self-incrimination) which signalled to me that I needed to save myself first. My abusive wife is trying to deny me custody for more than 1 day every two weeks and tries to fleece me financially. She wants to go to court, will not attempt any mediation.

Your son will have to go through this kind of fight whether he likes it or not; for the sake of his children, but he may lose and he needs to accept some things are out of our control (and the courts are biased against fathers in most jurisdiction). This is why he will need psychiatric support. I couldn’t live with the weight of the responsibility I feel without professional help; and I’m a very strong and capable man (or once was anyway).

He needs to WRITE DOWN every abuse, collect evidence (emails are good nowadays once abusers start feeling comfortable enough to go on-line). Someone must have seen something: he must ask them to write a letter – I was surprised to see how much people were willing to help once I explained it was for the sake of my children.

Good luck.

December 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm
(20) ECS says:

I have been a lawyer 29 years. My dad was an abused spouse (I now realize) and many of my clients have been too. But as I began to speak about this I found out MANY if the men I knew had been abused or battered.

And no, they will not say so. These statistics are badly skewed.

January 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm
(21) Andrew Underwood says:

The reason that the Department of justice doesn’t recognized men as battered, because we as men have a pride issue. If men would pull together and let our justice system know that because we are men we have feeling too. I would like for everyone to visit the Underwood Foundation for Battered Men, please write your comments and I will contact anyone who leaves a message.

I do understand what men are going through when it comes to being battered. We have to pull together.

February 26, 2014 at 11:51 pm
(22) Richard Wippenaar says:

I’m in an abusive relationship we are newly weds and is 3months in this marriage , my wife told my friends that I am sexual incapeable and telling me that me that I’m don’t have financial resources. , she sleeps out regulary basis 3 to 8 days but I got fed up told her harshly to move out , when she sleep out she got exuses such as her sick mother , her children , don’t have money to come home and eventually she told me that she can do whatever she likes

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