Domestic Violence Against Men: Spot the Signs

That friend, family member, or coworker you know whose partner seems to be belittling, controlling, and domineering may actually be a victim of domestic violence. Because women are typically the victims of this crime, many people are only familiar with the signs a woman may be abused while missing the signs that a man is being abused that are right in front of them.

I am related to someone who abuses her husband. She calls him names, humiliates him, makes him sleep on the sofa, and burns through money while never lifting a finger. When he fails to do what she wants, she smashes his prized possessions with a hammer. No one outside of her immediate family knows this because, as male abusers often do, she cut him off from his friends and family.

Unfortunately, it may be difficult to recognize the signs that a man is being abused as men are more likely to hide the fact that abuse is happening. These are some of the signs to look for if you suspect a loved one is being abused.

Statistics on Domestic Violence Against Men

According to the CDC, approximately one in 10 men experience some type of physical violence caused by an intimate partner. These incidences may include physical assault, sexual violence or, stalking. Men reported safety concerns and fear, with many developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

Almost 56 percent of men who suffer from domestic violence first experienced it before the age of 25. In addition to physical violence, nearly one in 14 men were forced to perform a sexual act and approximately 75 percent of them had the incident occur before they were 25. Around one in 17 were victims of stalking, with nearly 41 percent dealing with a stalker before the age of 25.

Physical Violence

Men may be hit, kicked, or bitten by their partner. Some partners may throw things, spit on the victim, or, like the couple I know, destroy their possessions. If the attacker is a woman or a smaller man, they may wait until the victim is asleep or attack by surprise. The abuser may use a weapon, such as an object, gun, or knife, and they may threaten or be cruel to pets and children.

Subtle Abuse

In domestic abuse against males, the abuse may be much more subtle than it is in women. It can be a man who is belittled or humiliated in front of friends, colleagues or family. They may post abusive comments on social media. An abuser may be possessive, act jealous, or accuse the victim of being unfaithful.

Colleagues, friends, or family may be told falsehoods about the victim as a way to isolate and manipulate them. The abuser may constantly threaten to leave or take the children should the abuse be reported.

LBGTQ Relationships

Domestic violence against men is also common among members of the LBGTQ community. Some signs a man is being abused include:

    • Claims law enforcement will not help someone from the LBGTQ community
    • Claims leaving the relationship will confirm members of the community are deviant
    • Tells the victim they are not “really” gay, bisexual, or transgender
    • Threats to tell others of your sexual orientation or gender identity

Why Men Don’t Leave

It is not unusual for men to remain in an abusive relationship. Many feel ashamed that they could not stand up for themselves or that they failed as a man. There are also situations where a religious belief makes it difficult to leave. Men fear that the authorities will not believe that they were abused or that their report will be minimized.

Men in a same sex relationship who have not told their family members of their sexual orientation may also remain in an abusive relationship. Just like with female victims, men can be in denial that they are actually dealing with domestic violence.

It is important to remember that men can also fall victim to domestic violence and that the signs for this type of abuse may be more subtle than when the victim is female. If you or a loved one is dealing with domestic violence, you need to take steps to protect yourself as quickly as possible.


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