Originally posted on April 11, 2011
Research published in the April issue of Psychology of Men & Masculinity revealed some starling data: male victims of domestic violence suffer post traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other psychological trauma. The shocking revelation comes from two studies researching the effects of domestic violence:
Approximately 8 percent of men and 25 percent of women reported being sexually or physically assaulted by a current or former partner, according to the National Violence against Women Survey, which polled 8,000 men and 8,000 women and was published by the National Institute of Justice in 1998. While this survey did not indicate the sex of the perpetrator, it provided the most up-to-date comprehensive interpersonal violence statistics at the time of the study, according to the researchers.
One analysis of the survey’s results showed that male victims were just as likely to suffer from PTSD as female victims of domestic abuse. In addition, psychological abuse was just as strongly associated with PTSD as was physical violence in these male victims. “This raises questions and concerns for male victims of domestic violence, given findings that women are more likely to perpetrate psychological than physical aggression toward male partners,” wrote [Anna] Randle.
In the second study, led by Denise Hines, PhD, from Clark University, researchers looked at two independent sample groups totaling 822 men between the ages of 18 and 59. The first sample was composed of 302 men who had sought professional help after being violently abused by their female partners. The authors called this “intimate terrorism,” characterized by much violence and controlling behavior.
The second sample was composed of 520 men randomly recruited to participate in a national phone survey in which they were asked questions about their relationship. Of this general community, 16 percent said they had sustained minor acts of violent and psychological abuse during arguments with their female partners. This type of abuse was referred to in the research as “common couple violence,” in which both partners lashed out physically at each other.
The researchers found that in both groups of men, there were associations between abuse and post-traumatic stress symptoms. However, the “intimate terror victims” who had sought professional help were at a much greater risk of developing PTSD than the men from the general community group who said they had engaged in more minor acts of violence with their partners, according to the researchers.
How unexpected that psychologically and physically abused men would suffer ill effects from abuse. One would think men would walk it off. Better yet, how sad that there is a need for such research. One would think it obvious that abuse harms the victim regardless of the victim’s sex. That anyone need study the potential for men to experience trauma speaks volumes. It shows the extent of the bias male victims face.
Anna Randle states in the article that abused men often do not report serious physical injuries, that psychological abuse goes unreported, and that police are reluctant to arrest female abusers. Those three factors lead to inaccurate information about male victimization, and the absence of solid information allows organizations motivated by political agendas to frame domestic violence as something only men do to only women.
The factors also result skewed statistics like those from the National Violence against Women Survey. It is unlikely that only 8% of men are victims of domestic violence. Many more men likely experience abuse, yet due social stigmas they will not come forward. Only by changing the stigmas, policies, and sexism against male victims will more men break their silence. To do that, society needs to take a cue from people like Randle and stop treating male victimization as a novelty and anomaly.