Men Can Be Victims, Too.

This is the third article in my Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence series The first one can be found here and the second here.

Based on surveys, the facts are that most sexual offenses are committed by men against women.  I understand that is not acceptable to hear for some people, so to them I offer a challenge: Be a part of the solution. Help to fix those statistics. Don’t complain about a perceived injustice and then offer no solution. Facts are facts, but facts can be changed, and peer pressure works. Go for it.

Back to business now. What may not be quite as evident is that men are abused, too, both physically, emotionally, and sexually, by women. These disruptions of domestic harmony are referred to as Intimate Partner Violence, or IPV. As far as sexual assaults are concerned, statistically, 9.4 % of women in the United States have experienced a sexual assault, and of those, 51.1% were at the hands of an intimate partner. There are no statistics on how many men experience sexual coercion by an intimate female partner, due to their reluctance to admit the incident ever happened; but we know that it does. According to 2018 statistics, 85 % of domestic violence cases are women, and 15 % of cases are men. Looking at it in a different way, 35.6 % of all women and 28.5 % of all men report being abused, in some way, by an intimate partner.  I’m not a statistician but I am trying to be fair and report it from different angles. There are sets of statistics on incidence of events that have been broken down further into different categories and are quite interesting to review, so please check out the links. Whether it is a woman that is being abused or a man, everyone matters.

IPV, which can be in the form of physical or sexual violence, psychological aggression, or stalking, is a very real and concerning global problem. Society still dictates, openly or more subtly, that men must be the alpha presence in the house, and they should never be shown to be weaker than a woman. Men may be embarrassed; may worry that they will not be considered credible; or may worry that their female counterparts will tell a different story, expecting to be believed over the man, which does happen. Even in this burgeoning age of equality, some unwritten, antiquated standards persist, making men reluctant to report assaults by females.

Men are more likely to use physical force to maintain control over their partners, so injures to women are generally more severe than those that men sustain. Women are not exempt from using violence, but when they do resort to it, it usually consists of throwing things at their partners, kicking, biting or spitting. In extreme cases, a woman may attack a man with a lethal weapon in his sleep, sometimes after years of sustained abuse, so she does not have to face physical retaliation. 

More frequently, however, women use verbal and non-verbal methods to coerce. They can verbally abuse men at home, belittle them in front of friends, family, and colleagues or on social media. Mom may threaten to not let Daddy see his children if he leaves her or reports her to the police. If she controls the purse strings, she can damage their financial situation and run up credit cards. A woman could destroy her domestic partner’s belongings or threaten to harm their children or pets. She can be possessive, unreasonably jealous, suspicious, or spread rumors about him.

It is not doubted that both men and women can use manipulative behaviors or physical force to gain power and control over their domestic partners, but data shows that men are more violent, women more verbally manipulative. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule; these are not absolutes, but that knowledge is there.

The consequences of Intimate Partner Violence extend past the couple involved. Victims (survivors), of domestic violence are at risk for long term health issues such as depression, PTSD, residual effects from physical injuries, and anxiety. These effects have the potential to result in loss of productivity at home or at work, relationship problems with others, financial difficulties related to mental health care, lost wages from time off work, health care, and possible legal costs. If there are children involved, things can be scary and complicated for them, too.  

These can be frightening times, but no one needs to go through them alone. Man or woman, you are of value to your family, your friends, and yourself. Seek help at an Emergency Room if needed for treatment and/or documentation of the incident, call the Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233., and enter ongoing counseling to help you cope. But whatever you do, get out and get help. I have heard the complaint that there is no place for men to get help and that is not true. The hotline is for everyone. This link speaks to violence specifically against men. There is help for anyone who chooses to want it. Please want it.