You are a man in your 40s. Your wife regularly beats and berates you. She once deliberately drove over your foot. You give her everything you can manage to earn (and anything else friends and relatives will let you borrow). But she spends all the money on herself or gambles it away. She has falsely accused you of abuse. You now have a police record as a result. Yet you cannot break free.
Some 830,000 men were victims of domestic violence last year [1A]. Many men do not recognize that they are victims. Many more are ashamed to acknowledge the fact.
We are all familiar with the image of the “macho” male. Society defines men as strong and dominant. But men of all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds and all occupations may be subject to abuse. Nor is abuse confined to heterosexual relationships.
Mary Todd Lincoln was known to have fits of rage. She once chased Abraham Lincoln around the yard with a knife.
Humphrey Bogart’s alcoholic third wife, Mayo Methot, pulled a gun on him at a dinner party. She stabbed him during another fight – an altercation Warner Bros. attempted to keep from the public. But the Bogarts’ tumultuous relationship was no secret. The press referred to the couple as the “Battling Bogarts” and their home as “Sluggy Hollow”.
Forms of Abuse
“Women were significantly more likely to throw an object, slap, kick/bite/hit with fist and hit with an object.”
-Philip Cook, “Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence”
Domestic violence against men can take a variety forms [2A]:
Verbal Abuse – This can range from private criticism to insults and humiliation in the presence of friends and colleagues.
Threats – These may express the intent to prevent children from seeing their father, if the abuse is reported; to harm children (or pets); or to “out” a gay or transgender individual.
False Accusations – Unsubstantiated accusations of infidelity or abuse may be made to an employer or police.
Physical Assault – This may involve hitting, punching, thrown objects, attacks while asleep, or use of a vehicle to cause injury.
Damage to Credit Rating and Finances – This can take the form of heedless spending, or deliberate default on major financial responsibilities such as a mortgage.
“Domestic violence is not about size, gender, or strength. It’s about abuse, control, and power, and getting out of dangerous situations and getting help, whether you are a woman being abused, or a man.”
-Jan Brown [1B].
Like women, men remain in abusive relationships for multiple reasons. Men may feel they are protecting their children, may be motivated by religious beliefs, or may suffer from low self-esteem.
While escape from an abusive situation can be difficult, it is not impossible [2B]. Advice can be obtained from domestic violence programs and legal aid. Police may be skeptical at first when a man is the victim. However, they are under an obligation to protect victims, regardless of sex. Emergency services will step in to protect children. Counseling will facilitate healing.
Documenting the abuse is important. Reporting each incident of abuse to police will establish a record, as will seeking necessary medical attention (and truthfully identifying the cause of an injury as abuse).
Keeping a diary, taking photos, and — if feasible — recording an altercation can, also, be helpful. However, victims should operate on the assumption an abuser can gain access to their activity online when a computer is shared.
Men should never retaliate in kind, even if provoked. It is far wiser for them to leave, when practicable.
National Domestic Violence Hotline 
[1A and B] WebMD, “Help for Battered Men”, 2003, https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/help-for-battered-men#1.
[2A and B] HelpGuide, “Help for Men Who Are Being Abused” by Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, 3/18, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/help-for-men-who-are-being-abused.htm.
 The National Domestic Violence Hotline serves both men and women.
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