BARRIERS TO DISCLOSING
Male victims of family violence and abuse - like women - often face many barriers to disclosing their abuse:
- They are likely to be told that there must be something they did to provoke the perpetrator’s abuse
- They can suffer shame, embarrassment and the social stigma of not being able to protect themselves
- They can fear that if they disclose the abuse there will be nowhere for them and their children to escape to
- In cases of intimate partner violence, they can fear that if they disclose the abuse or end the relationship, their partner might become more abusive and/or take the children
- They can feel uncertain about where to seek help, or how to seek help
- Services are less likely to ask whether a man is a victim of family violence, and when they do ask, they are less likely to believe him (indeed many health departments have mandatory domestic violence screening for young women, but no such screening for young men)
- Male victims can be falsely arrested and removed from their homes because of the assumption that because they are male, they must be a perpetrator and not a victim. When this happens, children can be left unprotected from the perpetrator of the violence, leading many men to suffer the abuse in silence in an attempt to protect their children.
Because of these barriers, men are much less likely to report being a victim of family violence than are women (and women also frequently don’t report violence against them).
FORMS OF ABUSE
Abuse of men takes many of the same forms as it does against women - physical violence, intimidation and threats; sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal and financial abuse; property damage and social isolation. Many men experience multiple forms of abuse. Men, more so than women, can also experience legal and administrative abuse - the use of institutions to inflict further abuse on a victim, for example, taking out false restraining orders or not allowing the victim access to his children.
I was petrified to come home from work and would see her car in the drive and have to drive away and sit for an hour or so by myself to prepare for the likely barrage to come. I lived in terror walking on eggshells around her for nigh on 20 years. I attempted suicide a number of times. Dan
IMPACTS ON MALE VICTIMS
The impacts of family violence on male victims include:
- Fear and loss of feelings of safety
- Feelings of guilt and/or shame
- Difficulties in trusting others
- Anxiety and flashbacks
- Unresolved anger
- Loneliness and isolation
- Low self-esteem and/or self-hatred
- Depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm and attempted suicide
- Use of alcohol or other drugs to cope with the abuse
- Physical injuries
- Sexual dysfunction and/or impotence
- Loss of work
- Loss of home
- Physical illness
- Loss of contact with children and/or step-children
- Concern about children post separation.
To add insult to injury, male victims of family violence often find it distressing to see social marketing campaigns such as Violence Against Women Australia Says No (federal) and Don’t Cross the Line (SA), which suggest that men are the only perpetrators of family violence and women and children the only victims.
Gay men can be reluctant to report the abuse they are suffering because they are afraid of revealing their sexual orientation. They can also suffer threats of ‘outing’ of their sexual preference or HIV status by the perpetrator. The perpetrator might also tell them that no one will help because the police and the justice system are homophobic.
CHILDREN OF MALE VICTIMS
Children of male victims of intimate partner violence can suffer the same impacts as children of female victims, including
- The abuse of witnessing family violence by their parents or step-parents
- Direct violence and abuse themselves
- Negative impacts on their behavioural, cognitive and emotional functioning and social development
- Harm to their education and later employment prospects
- Shaping their attitudes to violence in positive or negative directions
- The possibility of being more likely to grow up to perpetrate violence in their own relationships (the majority however do not).
Poor dad. I had seen him walking naked in the back yard at night all upset and embarrassed; and I had seen him crawling under the bed to escape her vicious attacks, and I have seen him nursing his fresh wounds in the toilet, and he would say no word against her. Son talking about parents
WHAT ABOUT FEMALE VICTIMS?The One in Three Campaign aims to raise public awareness of the existence and needs of male victims of family violence and abuse; to work with government and non-government services alike to provide assistance to male victims; and to reduce the incidence and impacts of family violence on Australian men, women and children.
There is a wealth of information about violence against women readily available on the internet.