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Domestic Violence And The Male Victim Sociology Essay

Domestic violence has existed for as long as we know. Not so long ago men were allowed to beat a wife with a stick that is not thicker than one of his fingers. Nowadays any kind of violence, whether it is physical, emotional or any other form is prohibited by the law. Domestic violence occurs in many different ways; however negative effects are the same. This essay will address the issue of domestic violence from a different angle, which is unrecognised, unaccepted, disbelieved, and swept under the rug. It will seek to explore nature of abuse against men, cast a light on why the men stay in abusive relationships, effects on abused. Further, why is violence against men unrecognised, how does the society react as well as possible “remedies” that could help in dealing with taboo topic of abused men.


Domestic violence occurs when a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate or harm the other.(

Domestic violence is a crime and those in danger of violence need protection.

Violence can be:







Victims are often trapped in the situation because they are afraid of further abuse or ashamed to report it. If they are financially dependent on the abuser, they are afraid they will have nowhere to live.

Violence is not confined to any social class, nor is all violence perpetrated by men; in a lesser number of cases it is the woman who abuses her partner, both emotionally and physically.

Deirdre, M. (1999) Food home and society, Gill & M Ltd, Dublin

Popular emphasis has tended to be on women as the victims of domestic violence although with the rise of the men’s movement and men’s rights, there is now some advocacy for men as victims. (

Violence is learned behaviour. Children, who are exposed to violence at home, see it as normal. They in turn are likely to be violent as adults. Violence and bullying are more common in individuals who have low self-esteem, feeling of inadequacy or difficulty forming relationships. Instead of expressing anger verbally, they resort to aggression and physical violence. Violence usually stems from a desire to control. Violence is common among those addicted to alcohol and drugs. One has to notice that this statement can not be fully accepted as true as much research has indicated that violence is combination of nature and nurture. However, the effects of violence on spouse are physical pain and suffering; loss of confidence and self-esteem; emotional damage and isolation from family and friends. Violence breeds violence. Children brought up in violent homes often grow into violent adults. It can cause homelessness, unhappiness, insecurity and emotional damage to children. Spouse or children can turn to drink or drugs to ease the pain.

Acceptance of violence at any level leads to:

more violent society,

delinquency and crime,

marital breakdown, often as a result of violence, weakens society

adults subjected to childhood violence often become a burden on society, as criminals or alcoholics.

Deirdre, M. (1999) Food home and society, Gill & M Ltd, Dublin


Majority of recorded incidents of domestic violence are of men on women. Society, although aware of the male victim, treats him as a joke. But in reality he is a man in fear, isolation, man who is considered as weak. Why is that? Because he doesn’t fit into the stereotypical male image. (

Male victims face two obstacles:

To prove that he is a victim,

To ensure that his children are protected and do not become the new victims. Very often they remain in abusive relationships for the sake and protection of their children.

Most men react by staying silent. Often this silence is encouraged by fear of ridicule and realization that it is unlikely his partner will be evicted. Even if he proves that he is a victim, it seems that only thing that he can do is leave home.

Then he is separated from his children and has difficulties in keeping proper and regular contact with his children. (


Certain conditions provoke violence but we expect such sufferers to seek help or medical treatment.

Men are expected to take responsibility for their actions (violence) but no excuses are accepted. Yet when female is violent society provides a list of excuses: post-natal depression, stress, PMT etc. Although most men will be sensitive to these problems, they should not have to suffer violence as a consequence. (


When a woman is violent and abusive in relationship, it is not necessarily assumed that she is a bad mother. In men’s case is automatically assumed that he is unfit parent. The law presumes that the children are almost always better off with their mother. As a consequence the only options for men seem to be put up with abuse or to leave home, since under the law there is no protection for them. (

Men today are spending more time with their children. They provide half of the child’s genetic material, and then are another source of unconditional love so essential to every child. (

Thorough history role of the father has changed. Prior the late 18th and early 19th centuries, fathers were involved in daily lives of their children. They taught them how to work and worked alongside of them, especially sons. With industrialization fathers and urbanization fathers often worked 14-16hours in factories (often in wretched conditions) which hindered their role in domestic affairs. More recently, a new kind of father is emerging, resembling more closely those of pre-industrial eras. This father still plays a major role but is also more involved in domestic tasks and caring for children. There is a difference between this public image and private reality. When a father is involved in child’s life it can make a big difference. Childs intellectual, physical and all other developments can be enhanced if their relationship with a father is close. This does not change if a father does not live with a child ( There are no studies which suggest that a child brought up by a man display any marked psychological or emotional characteristic different to one raised by a woman. (

Unmarried fathers have no automatic rights to their children. They may, as a result, be denied access to their children. Unmarried fathers have no constitutional rights, and few legal rights, to their children.

It has been established that fathers who have not been denied access to their children have more positive experiences of family life, and are more likely to have satisfying and fulfilling relationships with their children. (Lesley C. 2004)


Why do men stay in abusive relationship is the question that cannot be answered easy. Next statement can provide one of the reasons:

A man received particularly bad beating from his wife. She used various tools pliers, screwdriver etc. He suffered bruising to his arms, legs, buttocks and back. He did not use any physical means to defend himself. A day later he had his injuries recorded by the family doctor (female). Her attitude was bemusement, indifference and hostility. She did not encourage him to report further incidents.

He appealed to female social workers who suggested he should pack his bags and leave, despite the fact that he had three young children. But his life wouldn’t seem worth living without them. He did not take that option. He went to the district court to apply for protection and safety order. But they were unsupportive and did not register his bruising that was visible. Judge gave him a protection order, and his wife threatened him and applied for protection order against him. On occasion he has left the house (on her insistence). She accused him of desertion. He was denied access to his sons. He returned home and she is acting very nice until she feels safe to return to her violent behaviour. He has put up with abuse for years in order to be with his children. (A male victim’s confidential statement )

In this statement it is clear that the victim didn’t get any support and that the life that he is living is not a pleasant one. The doctor’s hostility is just disgraceful. In my opinion she was not looking at him as individual patient and showed characteristic of a discriminator. And all that is left to conclude is that man as a victim faces prejudice and is left with no choice to accomplish anything. His basic right as a patient and victim are not satisfied.

If a male victim seeks help society should offer the same protection to help him and his children as is given to the female victims. Women who are violent should be legally responsible for their actions. (

There are number of reasons why men are reluctant to report abuse:

Fear of not being believed

Fear of being denied access to their children

Fear of being judged and blamed for the abuse because of society prejudices

Fear of revenge by abuser

Fear of partner making false allegations against him

Fear of being left homeless



The adverse effects of domestic violence or abuse can be very long lasting. Men who have been abused by a spouse or intimate partner often suffer from:

Low self-esteem


Substance abuse

Sleeping problems

Inability to work

Consequences of abuse:

Performance at work has been affected

Loss of job

Put strain on relationship with children

Some have lost contact with their children.

In addition to these problems, physical abuse may result in serious injury or death if the victim does not leave the relationship. (

By knowing facts about abuse one would have to conclude that there is no difference between men and women when looking at the effects of abuse.


Domestic violence against men goes unrecognised because:

It has taken years of advocacy and support to encourage women to report domestic violence. Virtually nothing is done to encourage men to report abuse.

The idea that men can be victims of domestic abuse is so unthinkable to most people that many men will not even attempt to report the situation.

There has been very little investment in resources to address the issues of domestic violence against men.

In most cases physical damage and the impact of violence on men is less apparent then violence against women.

Even when they report it, they don’t receive help and in the first place are not believed (


Men in abusive relationships use various methods to attempt to avoid or lessen violent situations. (

They may:

Go into another room

Leave the house, go to family or friends

Sleep in their car or wherever they can go

Accept responsibility for all sorts of untrue accusations

Cover up for their violent partner.(

This will not stop attacks. But most of them will do anything in hope to stop abuse. But they fail to record accidents. Usually they don’t tell any family members and make excuses for their injuries. They fear humiliation even when abuse is life threatening. (

Abused men are not cowards but their actions can be misinterpreted as such. It is a pity to see how even the strongest men succumb to the old-fashioned way of thinking, that if they report abuse they will be seen as weak. On contrary those men who will endure anything to be with their children, are to be admired.


Even when men attempt to report abuse, they are met with discrimination, disbelief, and comments that most of the time proves why they were reluctant to report anything in the first place. Usually people’s reactions would be about men’s size (he should be stronger than a woman), that he did something to deserve it. Even the police are in disbelief and comment if they arrest her, what will happen to the children.

The generalised opinion that men are not capable of taking care of children needs to be changed in order to make any progress in such cases. Law should be applied regardless of gender, because that is a hiding spot for a woman. Today’s society is, not doing much to solve the problem. Many women will think twice before they act if they knew that they could be arrested like any men in the same situation.

And when it comes to the police education, they should get more information regarding to gender equality and psychology. Abuse is the hardest and least dignified thing that can be done to any human being. And society lets this abuse to happen.


In Ireland:

One man in 25 has experienced severe physical abuse in a relationship 1 in 90 has experienced sexual abuse and 1 in 37 severe emotional abuse.

While 1 woman in 12 has experienced physical abuse, 1 in12sexual abuse and 1 in 13 severe emotional abuse. (

These figures show that while risk to women is higher, domestic violence is something that also affects a significant number of men. (

More than a‚¬15million is provided by the government each year for services for female victim, while less than 1% of this amount is provided for male victims.

Mary T. Cleary. Irish examiner, 15.09.2006

Irish Governments funds for sufferers of domestic abuse clearly show the difference of funding available for man and women. It is clear as the sky that abused men are not given enough support or recognition by Government.

These figures speak for themselves and show how Irish society knows and acknowledges the domestic violence against men. But only acknowledging is not enough and that certainly needs to be changed. The person who is working hard to achieve that is Mary T. Cleary, the founder of AMEN.


Domestic violence against man is a topic that not many are willing to start. This essay has done just that. It explored different aspects of abuse against man. Vast numbers of things are preventing recognition (on a bigger scale) of abused men. The fact that abuse is abuse, no matter against whom it is done, does not change a fact that we as society on micro and macro level are closing our eyes. Women, Police Officers, Doctors, Government are leading the “race”. It is clear that men are disadvantaged and the hurdles that they are facing are almost impossible to overcome. Their fundamental rights as parents are not respected.


While doing the research for this assignment I came across a web site RAPE CRISIS NETWORK IRELAND that, in my opinion, has a very important and useful feature.

It gives advice how to cover your tracks so that nobody can find out that you visited this site. Instructions are clear and easy to follow. This site has not relevance to my assignment, but I couldn’t fail to notice their safety issue. That is a first site that I came across that offers the feature. I think it should be present in all sites that deal with violent issues, because it can give confidence to many people to search for answers, to report the abuse. In many cases, fear of abuser finding out that they tried to “do” something puts the victims off.

Domestic violence can be prevented through early intervention, by law enforcement, social services and the criminal justice system. Even men as victims, who are reluctant to press charges due to lack of recourses can be assisted once they have been identified and removed from violent home environment. (

It amazes me, through my research how the government and all involved don’t have enough knowledge and common sense to deal with issues like violence and abuse against men. As I grew up I witnessed domestic violence on many occasions. Friends, neighbours, members of my family, unknown people who were abused made me think about causes and solutions to the problem.

While criminal violence is well known, domestic violence is swept under the rug. As a standard “man” is the abuser and “woman” is the abused.

I visited a number of websites in order to find relevant statistics about abused men but only couple of them had any information about abused men. The main focus is on women and children. The only one that deals with every aspect of abuse against men is AMEN.

I know that is important but also shows me that minority (abused men) is neglected.

A study of MALE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE -commissioned by AMEN- was conducted. The study was carried out in County Monaghan. (See appendix 1)

To make the picture clearer I wanted to see how other European countries react and deal with this issue. I visited International Domestic violence and Abuse agencies list. It contained 55 countries but none of them had any organisations listed clearly aimed for men. That showed me that Ireland is ahead even if there is only one organisation for abused men. But it is “reachable” way more easily than in other countries.

Irish Government funds for sufferers of domestic abuse clearly show the difference of funding available for man and women. They are not given support or recognition by Government. (See appendix 2)

I witnessed many violent outbursts in the night time. But I couldn’t fail to notice that majority of those incidents were started by women. Freedom and change of life style allow women to go out and act as men. But binge drinking is one of the things that are not good in any way. In my opinion women know that they will not suffer big consequences (such as arrest) if they attack someone, so they feel confident to do as they please.

In this study (section 9) men surveyed suggested following support systems that should be put in place to deal with abuse that is done to them:

aˆ? Statutory services, and in particular the Health Boards, to take the problem of male victims of domestic abuse seriously.

aˆ? The Gardai to take male victims of domestic violence seriously and to treat the matter with more sensitivity.

aˆ? The legal system (i.e. legal professionals, court staff and the judiciary) to take a more balanced and equitable approach.

aˆ? All men surveyed felt the need for a ‘safe place’ to take themselves and their children when incidents in the home became particularly abusive.

aˆ? Better protection for their children if they are forced to leave the family home.

aˆ? The right for men to remain in the home when they are the victims. (Leaving the home has negative implications for the male in that it means he may have inadequate access to his children and that he is leaving his home which in most cases is his sole asset.)

aˆ? Better equality when the issue of custody and access to their children is being addressed by the courts.

aˆ? Less gender bias by social workers and health care professionals when dealing with male victims of domestic abuse.

aˆ? More alternatives to the adversarial family court system.

aˆ? The issue of men’s health and welfare to be taken more seriously by the Government.

aˆ? Adequate support services for male victims.

These recommendations are clear and they cover all areas that need to change in order to deal with abuse against men. However change needs to start on small scale starting with men who need to admit that they can also be vulnerable, and in that in their “macho” world some space should be left for acknowledging that fact. All children should be made aware that abuse is abuse no matter whom it is done against. Without that, I’m afraid, we won’t get far.

Intrigued by this topic, I asked friends what they think about abuse against men. Almost all responses were raised eyebrows and disbelief, laughter and the same replies as in all material that I have researched for this topic. The picture that people have in their heads is that abusers are male and just few said it is possible that females can be abusers as well.

My hope is that this essay will at least on a small scale make people aware of ABUSE AGAINST MEN.


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