Domestic Abuse Isn’t Just a Woman’s Issue
Often times when reading an article relating to domestic violence I am disappointed by the comment section. Many of the comments read something like this: saying victim is the one to blame or that women blow things out of proportion. While these comments are disheartening, they often miss the bigger picture; that domestic violence isn’t just a woman’s issue. It affects men as well!
When people think of domestic abuse, they often picture the victim a woman and sometimes children. Men are often depicted as the abuser; however men can be victims as well. Working at a domestic violence agency, the staff at Laurel House has seen both men and women as both abuser and victim. The unfortunate reality is that men are more reluctant to report their abuse than women.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about 835,000 men a year are physically assaulted by an intimate partner. Unfortunately a majority of these male victims won’t report their abuse. In a study conducted by the American Medical Association, males are less likely to report abuse due to fear, anxiety, a desire to appear self-reliant, and to appear independent. By not reporting, a majority of male victims are missing out on being connected to an array of services to help them safely leave their abuser and regain a life free of abuse.
While Laurel House’s shelter is exclusively for women and their children, the agency is dedicated to serving all victims of domestic abuse and providing them with the appropriate resources to get them out a dangerous situation. For male victims, Laurel House will assist them with finding safe shelter, obtaining a protection from abuse order, and individual counseling. Like all our services, they are offered to victims at no cost.
So, how do we get more men to initiate a conversation about domestic violence? We need to start by ending the stigma that male victims are weak and less of a man. Domestic violence can happen to anyone. What needs to be stressed is the importance of getting a victim help and connected to resources to remain safe during what is a dangerous time.
We also need to be open to having discussions with adolescent boys and young men about healthy relationships and staying safe in them. Education is the first step towards fighting domestic violence and the stigmas that surround it.
Another great way to get men and boys involved and educated on domestic violence is to support Laurel House by donating money, time, or wish list items. In addition to donating, consider participating our yearly events that help raise awareness. One event that men especially are encouraged to participate in is our Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event on May 2nd at Heebner Park in Worcester, PA. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence. For more information on the walk and to learn how you can get involved, please click here.
Domestic violence isn’t just a woman’s issue, it’s everybody’s issue. By educating both men and women, we can help all victims get the help they need.
Sources: The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. http://www.ncadv.org
Holmes, W.C., & Slap, G.B. (1998) “Sexual Abuse of Boys: Definitions Prevalence, Sequelae, and Manage” Journal of American Medical Association