03 Oct 2017

Growing a space for male victims of domestic abuse

Faced with the prospect of ridicule or disbelief, the majority of abused men are afraid to talk about the violence inflicted by their partners. Many have been conditioned never to use violence against women, even in self-defense.

Marjan Justaert
Marjan Justaert De Standaard, Belgium
Source: De Standaard
Growing a space for male victims of domestic abuse - NewsMavens
Depression. Hendrike/Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Domestic violence against men is not a new phenomenon, but one that is consistently underestimated.

The scale of the problem is far from negligible. In 1 in every 5 reports of physical violence, a woman is the suspect. When dealing with psychological abuse, it's as much as 1 in 3. And that doesn't take into account the crimes that go unreported.

These numbers prove that we need to do away with the prejudice that domestic violence is a crime with a male perpetrator and a female victim.

In our current culture of gender equality, there persists a stigmatizing blindness to male victims of domestic abuse. The problem begins with the shame male victims feel, and is compounded by the total lack of understanding in their environment. Male victims of domestic violence are often not taken seriously.

Faced with the prospect of ridicule or disbelief, the majority of these men are afraid to talk about the violence inflicted by their partners. Many are additionally vulnerable because they've been conditioned never to use violence against women, even in self-defense.

Belgium is kicking off a campaign to raise awareness of the phenomenon and increase understanding for male victims.

I think it's brave of the man featured in the article below -- tough on the outside, completely broken on the inside -- to come out and be an inspiration for others.

He told my colleague that he dreams of writing a book about his past. I hope that, after coming out with this story, he will find a publisher.

Details from the story:

  • This week, women organizations in Belgium started a campaign raise awareness of the male victims of domestic violence.
  • A new study by the Belgian Institute for Equality between Men and Women is an eyeopener. 1 in 10 men will eventually become the victims of domestic violence. For women, it's 1 in 7.
  • We mostly talk about a combination of psychological and physical violence, but economic and sexual abuse are also frequent.
  • 56% of victims are too ashamed/afraid to talk about it with somebody.
  • In times when terrorism and hate crimes dominate the news, we forget that domestic violence is still prevalent. It's 2017, and it's still a big concern around the world. People automatically think that women are the victims, while they can also be the aggressors.
  • In the article, a Belgian male victim tells his moving story.
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