Domestic Violence happens in relationships without regard to age, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Men may be victims of abuse, just as women are. In fact, the National Domestic Violence Hotline website reports that 1 in 7 men aged 18 and older have been the victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their life time. Ten (10) percent of men in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by aa partner. In the UK, Mankind Initiative reports 38% of domestic abuse victims are men. The also report that male victims are twice as likely as women to not tell anyone about the partner abuse.
The Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Police Department Domestic Violence Division has a brochure on safety planning for leaving an abusive relationship (Click here to open in a new window).
If you're being abused, please seek help from a program that specializes in Domestic Violence recovery. Find resources in your state by going to your State Coalition, Other US Organizations, or International Resources, depending upon where you live.
Thinking about leaving an abusive relationship? Find a safe place such as a public computer to review a safety plan for leaving. See the safety plan to the right.
Signs of Domestic Violence Signs of being abused include but are not limited to:
Supporting Someone You Love After Abuse
One woman went through an on-again off-again relationship. Initially, he was quite kind, and displayed the characteristics of someone who could potentially be a good partner. They had met online, and she was planning to go meet him.
He decided he did not wish to meet, and had reasons that it couldn't happen. Eventually the relationship appeared to die. She was hurt, but she handled it okay. About a year later, he popped back into her life stating he had no one. He needed her support.
As she cared deeply for him, she did all she could to help him. She sent him care packages, would talk to him online for hours on end. At one point he began to act differently toward her. One minute he was nice and caring, and the next he was verbally abusive toward her. It got to the place where he began to ask her to be his wife. She wasn't comfortable with that as his moods were all over the place.
He began to tell her that if she wouldn't spend her life with him he was going to kill himself. He reported he was all alone, had no friends, and she was the only one in his life. At one point he threatened to kill himself and he disappeared for a few days. Turned out, he came back later with a miracle story of how he was saved.
He repeatedly told her he was going to kill himself if she didn't meet his needs. Repeatedly she believed his threats and put her time and energy into the relationship. But it got worse. He would make accusations against her, would curse her, and threatened to ruin her life. One last time he threatened to kill himself, and sent her pictures of his genitals telling her how much she was going to miss out on. Then he disappeared. She chose to block him from further access.
His abuse took a toll on her. She felt responsible - what if he really killed himself? What if she had just said she would be his wife? But in the back of her mind, she knew that he would have been hurtful. She knew his behavior would probably get worse.
She cried for days over what she could have done. She was frightened that he would show up at her door and hurt her. She was confused as to why he was so sweet and kind initially and then became so abusive. Then she was angry and wanted to lash out. Then back to feeling hurt and confused. She's tried to avoid it all by sleeping.
So how do you support the person you love that has been abused? Validate them! What they are going through is a normal reaction. Their emotions will be all over the place. Having thoughts that if they had just done things differently or better, then things would have turned out different.
They may still be in love with the person who was abusing them. They can't just turn off those emotions, especially if the relationship was a long standing one. Even after all the abuse, they may still want to return to the abuser. Their emotions are confused. Many times they've been blamed for all the problems in the relationship, but the abuser may also instill hope that things can be different through apologies and promises of change.
Validate her emotions. Let her know it's okay to have a mixture of emotions. Encourage your loved one to reach out to a Domestic Violence Counselor or a domestic violence support group.
Be available to listen and to accept them for where they are right now. Don't lecture or tell them what to do. Just try to provide healthy avenues for them to choose to pursue. If they aren't currently in the abusive relationship, provide them with educational information on abusive relationships. Give them the local Domestic Violence Hotline so they can call someone on their timeline and terms.
Let them control their choices. They've most likely been told what to do and when to do it enough. Give them freedom to feel safe to make choices. Be there for them if they need someone to go with them to appointments.
Most of all, affirm them in their healthy choices.