Billboards, radio, and TV ads across the country proclaim that “every fifteen seconds a woman is beaten by a man.” Violence against women is clearly a problem of national importance, but has anyone ever asked how often men are beaten by women? The unfortunate fact is that men are the victims of domestic violence at least as often as women are. While the very idea of men being beaten by their wives runs contrary to many of our deeply ingrained beliefs about men and women, female violence against men is a well-documented phenomenon almost completely ignored by both the media and society.
"... she started pawing and ripping at him with her fingers, scratching his back and face..."
From Dec. 12, 1990 police report detailing the beating of Stanley G. by his wife
"... multiple bruises, abrasions and lacerations... chest wall contusion... psychological trauma..."
From the hospital injury report of the same incident
These reports are only a taste of what we believe inconceivable for women to do to men. But believe it or not this does happen.
The first reaction upon hearing about the topic of battered men, for many people, is that of incredulity. Battered husbands are almost a topic for jokes - such as the cartoon image of a woman chasing her husband with a rolling pin. One researcher noted that wives were the perpetrators in 73% of the depiction of domestic violence in news paper comics (Gelles).
Battered husbands have historically either been ignored or subjected to ridicule and abuse. Even those of us who like to consider ourselves liberated and open-minded often have a difficult time even imagining that husband battering could take place. Although feminism has opened many of our eyes about the existence of domestic violence, and newspaper reports often include incidents of abuse of wives, the abuse of husbands is a rarely discussed phenomenon.
One reason researchers and others had not chosen to investigate husband battering is because it was thought to be a fairly rare occurrence. Police reports seemed to bear this out, with in some cases a ratio of 12 to 14.5 female victims to every one male victim. But another reason is that because women were seen as weaker and more helpless than men due to sex roles, and men on the other hand were seen as more sturdy and self-reliant, the study of abused husbands seemed rela...
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... collected in the last several years are completely wrong and only one in 14 victims of spousal abuse are men, these are men who are hurting and need services that are currently not available.
Continuing to portray spousal violence solely as a women’s issue is not only wrong – it’s also counterproductive. And encouraging such unnecessary fragmentation and divisiveness will ultimately do more harm than good. No one has, or should have, a control on pain and suffering. But until society as a whole confronts it’s deeply embedded stereotypes and recognizes all the victims of domestic violence, we will never be able to solve the problem. Domestic violence is an either a male or a female issue – it’s simply a human issue.
Richard Gelles. (1974). The violent home: a study of physical aggression between husbands and wives. Beverly Hills: Sage
No More Silence
Spousal Abuse Rates - Stats from UCR and Straus, Gelles
Susan Steintmetz, Men: The Secret Victims Of Domestic Violence
Battered Husband: An Unaddressed Problem
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