Not long ago I wrote a piece about a new study published in the journal Partner Abuse about male victims of domestic violence. It reported on the various responses of 302 men who had sought services as victims of DV. The article reporting on the study had a lot to say about the men, but a few things stood out.
First, men don’t tend to report their situations to the police. That’s for a number of reasons, the most prominent of which is that they fear losing their children in a divorce or separation. They also fear moving out of the house and leaving their children with an abusive mother. They worry that, if they call the police, they’ll be the one arrested. When attacked by their partners, these men try to make peace by leaving the room, fending off blows or bear-hugging the woman. Love and the belief that the woman will change also play big roles in the men’s refusal to leave the abusive relationship.
Finally, the men studied averaged 5′ 11″ in height and weighed 195 lbs, meaning that they were well larger than the most American men. In short, their size didn’t prevent them from being abused and in at least one case it encouraged it.
It’s an interesting study, so it’s also interesting to go to this website and read a woman’s account of her life growing up with an abused father. Like the men in the study, he was well above average in size and like many of those men, he was a police officer. And like the men in the study, he often wanted to leave, but stayed because of his children.
The physical abuse he endured was tucked in alongside a huge amount of the emotional kind which echoes the experiences of the men studied as well.
For 20 years I listened to my mother tell my father that he was “no good”, “ugly”, “a wimp”, “no other woman would want him”, “he was nothing”, and that “no one liked him.” In those 20 years I tended his wounds, mended his torn shirts and told him that I loved him.
That gives a view of domestic violence seldom seen elsewhere. The child not only played the role of parent to the father, but was terribly affected by the violence she heard and saw.
Growing up watching this abuse affected me, it hurt me to hear my father being told that he was “ugly” or “nothing”. It more then hurt me to see the despair in his eyes and the shame on his face. Imagine an 11 year old pulling her mother off of her father or calling the sheriff to come and get her mother so I could finally go to sleep that night. This is what my childhood was like.
She and her sister witnessed her father on the verge of suicide more than once, but he always pulled back for their sake. Still, her mother’s abuse of her father took a terrible toll on her.
It still hurts me to remember how he was treated. Growing up this way affected me. At 14, I tried to escape taking a large overdose of pills, nearly succeeding. I ended up in a psychiatric hospital, and was made a ward of the court due to my parents problems.
Women can and do batter men. It happened in my house and it happened to my dad. It not only hurts the one being abused, but the children who also live it. The affects last a lifetime. My fathers physical wounds healed, but the emotional scars he carried with him until his death. Just as I will carry it forever in me….
It’s always good to put flesh and blood on the bare bones of academic studies. The website does exactly that. It shows through the eyes of a child the real trauma of abused men and their children. It communicates that reality more immediately than any study ever could. Those who want to know the truth about domestic violence should read it.
But the site does more than that. I’ll discuss that in a later piece.
Thanks to George for the heads-up.