Research has shown that males who experience physical abuse from a partner may respond in a variety of ways, including:
Denial: Some males may deny or minimize the abuse, either to themselves or others. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit that they are being abused or may fear that they will not be believed or taken seriously.
Self-blame: Some males may blame themselves for the abuse, believing that they somehow provoked or deserved it. They may feel guilty or ashamed, and may struggle with feelings of low self-worth.
Because of feelings of denial and self-blame, many males are not able to recognize that they need help and support.
Domestic violence and abuse can occur in relationships of any gender. Like with any form of abuse, the causes of domestic violence are complex and can involve a variety of factors, including:
Childhood experiences: People who have experienced abuse or trauma in childhood may be more likely to perpetrate abuse in their adult relationships.
Substance abuse: People who abuse drugs or alcohol may be more likely to engage in abusive behaviors. Substance abuse can lower inhibitions and increase impulsivity, leading to violence or aggression.
Mental health: People who have mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety, or personality disorders may be more likely to engage in abusive behaviors. Mental health difficulties can affect judgment, impulse control, and emotional regulation.
Relationship dynamics: People who are in relationships that are abusive or controlling may engage in abusive behaviors as a way to gain power or control. This can be a way of coping with their own feelings of powerlessness or fear.
Many times the abuse can be subtle and males have difficulty recognizing the behavior as abusive. Slaps, pinches, ear pulling for example, may vary from culture to culture but can be considered a form of physical abuse. Frequent monitoring, harassment, frequent false accusations of infidelity, disturbances at work, demanding money, for example, are other forms of common abuse in males.
Most males who suffer from domestic abuse state that they suffer more from the emotional abuse (putting down, insults, criticism, yelling, etc) than any physical abuse.
VAWA, or the Violence Against Women Act, provides federal resources to support the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women as well as funding for victim services and prevention programs. While VAWA is primarily focused on addressing violence against women, it also includes provisions that protect male victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Data on the number of males versus females who apply for VAWA is not readily available. However, while the majority of victims who seek services under VAWA are female, males can also be victims of these types of violence and may seek help and support through VAWA programs.
Nothing excuses or justify domestic violence or abuse. Regardless of the underlying causes, abuse is always unacceptable and harmful to both the victim and the perpetrator. Domestic violence and sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of their gender and all victims deserve support and assistance.