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Monday, November 17, 2014

Domestic Violence. Against Men?

Domestic violence.  We have laws to protect victims of domestic violence.  We have mandatory arrests being conducted on a daily basis of perpetrators of domestic violence. Thus far, the attention has been focused almost exclusively on women as victims.  As you'll see very soon, there is research that indicates men are, in fact, victims of physical domestic violence and that women are just as likely to be emotional or psychologically abusive to their partners as men.

As most of you know, I am a big music fan and I believe that music is an art form that often directly reflects the attitudes and acceptable societal norms.  This video, this song from the amazingly talented artist, Pink, makes light of the issue of domestic violence and psychological abuse of men.  And it's widely accepted as funny, as entertaining - but imagine for a moment it were a male artist performing this song about his female partner...

The message is that women can go completely insane on their lovers and at the end of the day, it's only for entertainment purposes. Get a load of this stanza:
"How did I become so obnoxious?
What is it with you that makes me act like this?
I've never been this nasty.
Can't you tell that this is all just a contest?
The one that wins will be the one that hits the hardest.
But baby I don't mean it,
I mean it, I promise."
Again, if this were a man signing this song, there would be incredible outrage.  But let's say for the moment that you're not convinced by cultural displays of attitudes towards abusive women...let's look to hard research.

Here is a quote from a respected source (British Psychology Society) on the problem of domestic violence and in particular, violence against men:
While aggression in heterosexual relationships is believed to stem from men, a recent study presented on June 25 at a symposium on intimate partner violence (IPV) at the British Psychological Society's Division of Forensic Psychology annual conference in Glasgow, found women are more likely to be “intimate terrorists,” or physically aggressive to their partners than men.
But wait, there's more and this time from a completely different source:
Women engage in psychological aggression more than men (Muñoz-Rivas, et al., 2007) and their use of physical aggression is nearly equal to men (Parity, 2010)."
Let's take yet another look at the British Psychological Society's Division of Forensic Psychology and see what they have to say - pay attention (emphasis, mine).
However, when it came to terms of high levels of control and aggression, there was no difference between men and women. There was a higher prevalence of controlling behavior seen in women than men, which was found to significantly predict physical aggression in both sexes. In other words, the more controlling behavior a woman displayed, the more likely she would become an “intimate terrorist,” or physically aggressive to her partner.
What have we learned thus far?  Well, we have learned that the stigma affixed to domestic violence against men is ill-placed and the societal viewpoint that "men just can't be victims," is dead wrong.  The myth of the "weaker sex" is also hereby debunked as fantasy and perhaps should even be considered folklore in our contemporary culture.  Women are equally capable of psychological abuse and by some studies are even more likely to be "intimate terrorists" - I prefer the term "emotional vampire," but the impact is still the same.

It doesn't matter whether the woman is a 6' bodybuilder with a Black Belt in Karate or a 4'11" mousy little secretary with the temper of a dragon, women perpetrate violence against men and unfortunately, men just won't report it:
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, men and boys are less likely to report the violence and seek services due to several challenges such as the stigma of being a male victim. Sixteen percent of adult men who report being raped or physically assaulted are victims of a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, or date.
Yes, it's true - men are abused emotionally and physically and can experience depression and in some cases, even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  You're probably thinking that this is more than outrageous, perhaps even laughable.  But consider this:  The stigma of being emotionally abused or physically abused by a woman is immeasurable. In our culture, men are to be the standard bearers of strength and emotional disconnectedness.  That pressure of cultural norms coupled with the internal struggle the abuse itself often pushes men into a deep depression and post traumatic stress.  Just like women who are abused, men experience the physical manifestations of the emotional abuse by withdrawing from friends, spending more time isolating one's self, a decrease is sexual function, and in some extreme cases, career choices are made in order to eliminate the stress associated with abuse.

And then, there's this:

There are those of you reading this right now who are probably thinking that men who allow their partners to abuse them are "pussies" or "wimps" and aren't "real men."  But yet, when a woman is abused in the same manner, God help you if you call into question the legitimacy of her claims.  And if you think that the legal system has caught up with the societal norms, you're wrong.  Day after day in family courts across this land, lawyers are using the gender bias to their advantage for their clients and the men, well, they have to bend over and take it just like they have had to in the past - but now it's court sanctioned because a judge put his/her seal of approval on it.

While the laws are steadily improving at addressing various types of domestic violence more specifically, we, as men, are still not willing to accept the label of "victim," yet men are victims as well.  As a society, we outwardly frown upon physical or psychological abuse and rightly so.  However, behind our closed doors, the sad result of our ignorance on the issue is that we are teaching our children by example.  Our kids are bearing witness to the insane ideology that "if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy," when we should be teaching them, "If Momma is an abuser and has her head up her ass, it's unacceptable."

As parents, we thought we were doing the right thing by teaching our sons to control their tempers, and we were.  We have taught them that it is never acceptable to hit a woman.  Unfortunately, we have also taught them that the smartest thing you can do when dealing with angry women is to keep your mouth shut and wait for the storm to pass.  The only result is that the abuser feels vindicated, justified in their ridiculous behavior and the storm increases in intensity and depth - before you know it, you're dealing with an emotional disaster that would even make Katrina blush.  In the process of attempting to reduce domestic violence incidents, we have taught our daughters that they can behave however their emotions dictate without fear or consequence.  It is a swinging pendulum, folks.  Look, I am NOT suggesting that you go smack your wife around.  What I am suggesting, is that it's time to take those skeletons out of the closet and teach them to dance.

Here are some things that men can do to protect themselves.  Of course, these are just my opinion, filled to overflowing with commentary...

1.  Listen to friends.  If your friends tell you that she's batshit crazy, listen.  No circumstance is so bad that you can allow crazy to rule your life.  I've done it and it damned near killed me.  Don't make the same mistake.

2.  No third chances.  If she screws up once, that's fine and we should forgive.  There will be clear evidence if it was an honest mistake or the harbinger of abusive behavior in the future.  If she is abusing in the beginning of the relationship, you can rest assured that it's going to only get worse over time.  Not only that, but staying in that situation will only serve to weaken your defenses until finally, that one day, you explode.

3.  Call law enforcement.  As the research shows, men are less likely to report cases of physical abuse, but it has to be done.  Don’t waste your time calling friends or family because they are limited in what they can do and if you are calling a member of the abuser's family, you're an idiot and should probably stay where you are.  The fact of the matter is that law enforcement has their hands tied by the law - when they arrive, if there are injuries, the other person goes to jail.  So, it's critical that you remove yourself from the situation and THEN contact law enforcement before she has the time to fake injuries.  Let the truth speak for itself.

4.  Get your kids to safety.  Whether it be blended families or biological kids, if they see abuse of the physical or psychological nature, get them the hell out of there.  Not only is the situation volatile, but it's setting a horrible precedent.  If you have daughters and the abuser is a female, they will learn that men are pussies and there is a chance that the emotional scarring will be carried into future relationships.  In most cases, abuse is a learned behavior and not a genetic flaw.  Sure, some have the propensity for violent outbursts, but let’s be honest – our behaviors impact our kids more than we will ever admit.

5.  Do not hire a female attorney.  Forgive me for saying so, but it is virtually impossible for a female attorney to ever think that a man could be or would be abused and she will simply NOT represent you or your best interests.  They deal with male abuser after male abuser and more often than not, will consider your mental anguish and distress as bullshit.  And if your attorney doesn't fully get behind you, you have lost before you started.

6. Document everything. If you're married and it's too late to escape cleanly, you've got to have your shit together and that means documenting everything. If it's physical abuse, take photographs of the abuse and distribute to your closest friends to hang on to for you. When the psychological abuse occurs, write that stuff down and keep it in a journal.

The problem isn't going to go away.  It's part of our culture, part of our societal DNA and it's only going to get worse.  There are a few good resources out there, but the best thing men can do is share what they are experiencing with those who love and care.  Typically, they will support the victim and provide valuable insight as to where to go and what to do.  In the midst of the psychological blood-letting, it's hard to make reasoned decisions so the victim must, at all costs, surround himself with like-minded individuals.  Abusers, in some cases, are so caught up in their own egomaniacal bullshit that it doesn't even register that they are hurting someone.  If we don't change, we are going to end up with a nation filled to overflowing with pussified men who are afraid of their own shadows.  If we can't defend ourselves, how in the hell will we be able to defend our nation?

This is just my opinion (accompanied by hardcore research) and I could be wrong.  But I seriously doubt it.