Re-victimizing the victim
This week we ran a news item in which a woman allegedly hit a man in the face. She was subsequently charged with attempted assault. She is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
What was bothersome were the social media posts in which people were telling the man to get “a backbone” and “man up.” To “just deal with it,” since it was “only a slap on [his] face.”
One poster went as far as to say the mother of his child hit him pretty often, but he would “never” file charges against her, as if he were “manning up.”
It is those kinds of mindsets about domestic violence that lies the problem – men can’t possibly be victims of physical, mental, emotional or financial abuse.
Domestic violence, whether it is a man abusing a woman or a woman abusing a man, is still domestic violence. It is still a crime to physically hurt someone and even a “little ol’ slap” on the face is physical violence — whether the victim is a man or woman.
According to the Center for Disease Control, one in seven men 18 years of age and older in the United States has been the victim of physical violence by an intimate partner in his lifetime and in 2013, 13 percent of documented contacts to the Domestic Violence Hotline identified themselves as male victims.
While men make up a smaller percentage of callers to the hotline, there are likely many more men who do not report or seek help for their abuse, for a variety of reasons including the mindset listed above — men can’t possibly be a victim of abuse at the hands of a woman.
The abuse of men is often treated as not as serious, or a “joke.” Stereotypes play into the stigma associated with being a male who is abused, and as with women victims, there is shame, denial and fear.
In America, our men are supposed to be big and strong and our society shames any man who is victimized by an intimate partner.
As an abused man, they may face a shortage of resources, a lack of understanding from friends and family and legal obstacles.
Now, we must give credit to the many other people who stood up for the victim and let the posters who were telling the victim to “man up” know that it didn’t matter the perpetrator was a woman and the victim a man — what matter was it is against the law to assault someone — even a “slap” on the face.
While the woman is considered innocent until proven guilty, the victim does not need to be victimized a second time by society.
Until all of us quit thinking men can’t be victims of domestic violence, or that it is somehow less “manly” to be a victim if you are a male, it will be continue to be difficult for men who are abused to come forward and get the help they need.