When we think of domestic violence, most of us conjure up images of men abusing women. The truth is domestic violence can happen to anybody. From men abusing women to women abusing men, it can even exist between a child and a parent or between siblings. Those that experience such abuse ultimately suffer from both negative emotional as well as physical health issues.
“The hidden side of domestic violence – abused men.” Philip W. Cook
Is the stigma of men being the abusers changing? There has been an increase in cases of men being abused by their female partners as well as those who are in a gay relationship. But it is still something that is ‘pushed under the rug,’ as many men find it difficult to admit they are being abused. Besides the stigma of men being the abusers, there is also the shame and stigma attached to those men who are being abused. This creates a major hindrance to those men who need to seek help and support. Feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, fear and inaccurate information all lead to isolation. If the problem is never discussed and exposed, then everyone remains ignorant of the facts.
The media and Domestic Violence
Media has also played its role in portraying domestic violence as men always being the abusers and never the victim. When we are continually exposed to this idea, it eventually becomes the norm. The truth is, this is not normal, and domestic violence does not just happen to women. The media can also play a positive role, in bringing awareness to the problem. This is especially true in today’s world, where social media is so popular.
Offering support for domestic violence victims
When it comes to other abused situations, many can face the problem of people not believing them. Imagine a situation where a friend tells you that his girlfriend is abusing him or a child confesses that a respected member of the family is abusing them. In many cases, nobody believes them. So, the best way you can help is to provide support to victims of abuse, no matter their age or gender. How difficult do you think it is for somebody to confess such a thing as abuse? Don’t judge or question their experience. You will be helping tremendously, by simply believing and supporting them.
As a victim of domestic violence…
When in a situation, where you feel isolated and feel that nobody would believe you if you said anything, document your experiences. This is something more adult victims can do. There are a number of ways you can do this:
- If you are being physically abused, take pictures of your injuries. You can even take pictures of items broken during an episode.
- Document the abuse by journaling or use a calendar to mark off instances. Include the time and date each time. Always make copies.
- Keep and make copies of threatening emails or text messages.
- If you end up in hospital, make sure everything is correctly documented
By documenting the abuse, it can be a way of dealing with the abuse and is the best way to gather evidence, in case you want to lay charges. Keep your information in a safe place, somewhere the abuser can’t get at it and destroy it.
Support for Domestic Violence Victims
Whoever you are, finding a support system is crucial to get through such tough situations. A friend, family member or co-worker you can trust. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from professionals, everybody has the right to an abuse-free life. Helplines are there for all victims, providing support and information.
Providing awareness and education on domestic violence in communities can help to change the viewpoint on the stigma of men being the abusers. It can also change all other abusive situations where shame and fear cause victims to suffer alone.