Confronting the stigmas of male victimization

A recent article on Sheknows tackled the issue of the stigmas male domestic violence victims face. Author Cailyn Cox noted:

When we hear of a female victim of domestic abuse, we are sickened, horrified and angry, but is the reaction the same when the victim is male?

More than 700,000 men a year are believed to fall victim to violent attacks from their partners, but according to The Telegraph, many of these acts go unreported, as men fear the consequences of reporting the offence.

Such consequences include shame and embarrassment, which stem from the stigma attached to the abuse, as well as fear that they themselves may be arrested after their abusers make false accusations in retaliation.

Dr Jessica McCarrick, a senior lecturer in counselling psychology at Teesside University, carried out a study on male domestic violence victims, and her report revealed that men were often “treated with suspicion by the criminal justice system” — the very system they are meant to be relying on for protection.

Wherever would they get such a notion? Surely no country, such as Australia for example, would have it written into their general policy to treat male victims of domestic violence as abusers until proven otherwise:

The extent to which men in these situations believe that they are partly or solely the victim, versus the extent to which they know that they are not a victim can vary.

Men who admit to using violence often try to justify or minimise their violence, or to blame their partner — perhaps for ‘provoking’ an attack or giving him ‘no way out’. They might refer to their partner as being over-sensitive, irrational, hysterical, a danger to themselves, or even mentally ill when trying to minimise their own behaviour to others. These characterisations of women can be reinforced by social norms that do not support equitable relations between women and men.

For these reasons, in all circumstances where a man is initially assessed as or claiming to be a victim of family violence in the context of a heterosexual relationship, you should refer him to a men’s family violence service for comprehensive assessment or to the Victims of Crime Helpline. His female (ex)partner must always be referred to a women’s family violence service for assessment, irrespective of whether she is thought to be the victim or aggressor.

Perhaps those types of attitudes may explain why men are afraid to report their abuse. It also explains this:

And Dr McCarrick is not the only person to reveal such findings, as abuse charities like ManKind Initiative have also witnessed an increase in the number of men asking for advice after being falsely accused.

“Over the past 10 years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of callers to our helpline, stating they have been the victims of false allegations”, said Mark Brooks, chairman of the charity.

“The type of thing we hear is, ‘My wife or girlfriend has said if I leave or tell anyone, she will say I was the one attacking her and she was just defending herself’.

“It is an extremely powerful weapon in the armoury of the perpetrator and leaves the victim feeling trapped and helpless”.

Again, wherever would they get such a notion? It is not as if there has been a political movement that argued that people should believe women’s claims of abuse without ever questioning them. It is not as if that political movement changed policies and laws that result in men claiming abuse being arrested when they call the police. It is not as if they have enacted policies that prompt domestic violence support services to treat male victims as abusers.

It is frightening to be in a position where the person hurting you can play the victim and know with a fair amount of certainty that people will believe them over you even you are the one covered in bruises and blood.

Imagine what happens when you remove the politics and ideology. You are left with a situation in which a woman assaults a man and attempts to play on social norms to get away with it. Because there is no ideology telling you that you must filter the woman’s actions through the lens of patriarchal oppression or male entitlement, you can see it for what it is: an abuse of power. There is no reason to excuse her behavior. You would simply arrest her, investigate, and if the evidence supports it, charge and convict her of abuse. She would receive the same sentence any man would.

Granted, that is somewhat wishful thinking, yet it is something more probable to happen without the ideological nonsense of Australia’s policies and other feminist-driven attitudes that make it difficult for male victims to come forward.


8 thoughts on “Confronting the stigmas of male victimization

  1. Pingback: Confronting the stigmas male victimization –

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  3. It occurred to me lately that I think a lot of the stigma stems from not recognizing that the male body is beautiful and fragile. Have you noticed that women do not claim self-defense when they hurt others for their own protection? Instead, they claim they are protecting their body- like they are doing everyone a favor. And it works, because we value women’s bodies.

  4. Actually they’d do well to point out the vampire syndrome myth here as another stigma. If people believe that by being raped, or otherwise domestically and/or sexually abused makes a man a future abuser automatically then how is any man going to open up about it happening to him? Granted, it happened to Josef Fritzl, but he was diagnosed with numerous disorders, and most abuse survivors who act like that are in the minority, usually learning early on without realising that it’s wrong. The more people understand this, the better. And we’re far more likely to see male survivors open up about their abuses when we do understand this.

  5. Pingback: Confronting the stigmas of male victimization –

  6. Traditional attitudes about gender play a part as well. That women are weak and meek victims, that they can never do harm, and that men are supposed to always be strong enough to “handle” an aggressive woman. It’s too bad that men who would report violence are seen as weak, pussies, or manginas. Sadly, that seems to be a social attitude and it’s not making it any easier for men to get help when they need it most.

  7. Guess it is not an exclusively male or female thing to play the victim as the abuser – as opposed to that quote you printed. A friend of mine has a girlfriend who is sometimes a total psycho. She will get drunk and call him and he will tell her that he does not want to see her when she is drunk. She will cry and accuse him of whatnot and with the most heartbroken voice scream: “Don’t you see what you are DOING to me? You are KILLING me!”

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