Who knew men suffer from psychological trauma too

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.

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7 thoughts on “Who knew men suffer from psychological trauma too

  1. TS: Good points as usual. Collectively, women need not only to accept male victimization, especially of children, but to take a solid stance when it comes to psychological abuse of children. The term “Hell hath no fury…” is another way of saying “psychological abuse.” When momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy,” is another way the issue is glossed over. My mother was abusive towards me to get back at my dad. He made her get her own credit card at Field’s and a part-time job to pay for it. She didn’t have to contribute a dime to the family budget and she was still livid. The hate filled atmosphere she created and her complete abandonment of me led to my being tormented and beaten by one brother, and molested by the brother who protected me from other.
    I’ve mentioned in your posts that I appeared on the very first Oprah show to deal with men sexually abused as children about 25 years ago. Her recent “200 Man Show” was touted by Oprah as the first on television ever. She’s lying or stupid. In the second episode of “200 Men” she actually said she “had no idea that men would have problems with intimacy” and claimed it was the first time she saw the correlation between child sexual abuse and “all the men in prison.” Strange the second episode is “unavailable for viewing due to circumstances beyond Oprah’s control.” ….Beyond OPRAH’S control. Say wah????
    Oprah’s distortion of the issue of child abuse for the past quarter century is nothing short of passive aggressive abandonment on a grand scale. Her silence on the issue is nothing short of misandrist vindictiveness. Men need to start defining maternal child abuse with the same “in your face” angst and zeal as the feminist media establishment. Let’s not forget, sexual abuse represents 13% to 20% of intrafamilial abuse. The majority involves abandonment and physical abuse which is mostly perpetrated by females. That’s why sexual abuse is such a popular issue for women. They can continue to deny that maternal “emotional terrorism” and abuse even exist.
    Check out my comments on the issue at Oprah.com. You can Google me. You’d probably like “after the show with Gloria Steinem.”

  2. Not news to me, but then I’ve been living with a man who has those very issues for… oh, over 5 years now.

    It’s horrible, and depressing, and draining, and most of all heartbreaking to watch on, knowing there’s almost nothing you can do to help besides be there when the strain of keeping it all together finally gets too much for the sufferer. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I do wish that what caused it had never happened.

  3. It’s horrible, and depressing, and draining, and most of all heartbreaking to watch on, knowing there’s almost nothing you can do to help besides be there when the strain of keeping it all together finally gets too much for the sufferer.

    I read an article about the effects of torture. I consider most abuse to be torture because of the effects it has on victims. In her conclusion, Leanh Nguyen stated:

    Severely traumatized subjects, like my torture patients or Holocaust survivors, cannot balance this position because they know too much of one side of the paradox (Kertesz, 2004; Levi, 1986). The practice of torture is a rape on the hopeful, the controllable, the related, the meaningful. It violates the rationale for meaning-making, negotiating, planning. The stories of torture that I have heard all boil down to one narrative: The patient is thrown in a physical and moral universe where time, space, motivation, boundary, bodily functions, emotional rhythms, all are controlled and degraded by another human being who dictates the terms of the contact but whose motives you cannot comprehend. What seeps out of this intercourse and into their psyche is the helplessness of not being able to think about the other person’s mind, the terror of not being able to predict the most basic interpersonal happenings, the intimate unambiguous, meaningless acquaintance with death.

    What they know too much, too well, too irretrievably, is that there exists a dimension in this life where there is no meaning, no intentionality, no mutuality, where embracing death is the way to keep living, where shutting down one’s mind and turning blind to the other’s mind is the best way to survive. It is this knowledge, not the amputated limb or the torn vagina, which is the deadly blow.

    At the end of the day, I am confronted with the knowledge that some lives cannot be repaired. Through moments of connection, I hold out for my patients the hope of something wondrous, but I am also the portent of renewed pain. “I can’t bear to be alive,” said one patient. And though I grieve for what has happened to him I know in that moment that we are different, and how I am more human than he. For I, and you who have seen the traumatized but have not been touched by trauma, can bear being alive, being in love, giving birth, preparing for death, even though we have been shown the dead.

  4. For over 10 years now I have struggled with my ex-wife and the consistant fight to remain as my legal daughter’s life. In 1999 my ex was pregnant and held two men responsible. I am one of those me and the legal father of my 10 girl who secretly sees her biological father without my knowledge and with the deception of a “phychological abusive” mother. I believe that I am the victim of phychological abuse. I would be easier committing suicide then starting to tell my story. This story is an incredibly awful and terrorizing account of what I have been through. Did I mention 7 pregnancies consisted of 3 abortions, and 4 births where my biological status is questionable. HELP ME PLEASE!!! 😦

  5. Joaquin, I am sorry for what you have been through. Please check the male abuse resources links on the right. I do not know what country you are in, however, if you are in the States, UK, or Canada there are services available to you that can help you cope with the psychological abuse.

  6. I had not dated for nine years after I was clawed up and down my arms by x-girlfreind. In this case she called the police, because I refused to leave our apartment until she gave me back my money. The police came saw my bloody arms and asked if I wanted her arrested. She then aggreed to pay what she took from me. I left. But I endured constant threats, sarcasm, insults and controling behavior. The psychological abuse was more harmful then her physical attack. It took me years to recover from an 8 month relationship. And of course she framed herself as “the victim.” I am so glad to be out of that situation. Thanks for posting.

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