When I mention domestic violence and male victims, many men and women often raise a skeptical eyebrow. Why are people reluctant to visit the topic of male victims of domestic violence even when the CDC reports that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime?
The majority of critically cynical men and women are often in healthy relationships where domestic violence is non-existent. They cannot imagine being violent to their spouse or partner or creating serious psychological harm. Most men cannot even imagine a man being the victim of domestic violence in great part because of the physical strength most men have over women. For gay men and women, there is a perception that both are on equal footing to defend themselves against physical and psychological attacks.
But domestic violence is something much more formidable that takes place on a deep psychological level, where one person exercises power over another that manifests itself through physical and psychological harm to the victim.
In instances when officers arrive at a home where domestic violence is reported and the man is the suspected victim and the woman the suspected perpetrator, law-enforcement will encourage the man to leave the house for his own safety. The officer is not only thinking of the physical safety of the male but also the potential legal consequence if the male stays in the home and tensions flare up again. If children are in the home, they will usually stay in the home and this may create a second wave of victimization.
For men in low-income circumstances, this presents a second challenge. Where do these men go? Few men’s shelters and social services exist that are able to accommodate men and their children.
In 2020, “the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) directed more than $33 million in grant funding to California to support efforts to curb domestic violence throughout the state, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California David L. Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California McGregor W. Scott, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Nicola T. Hanna, and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Robert S. Brewer Jr.” California is one of many such states to receive funding.
Much like the White House Gender Policy Council established in 2021, domestic violence funding ignores males in substantial ways. Males are the primary victims of suicide, drug addiction, and other serious health risks and consequences partly associated with adverse experiences related to domestic violence. Although Global Initiative for Boys & Men often compares the statistics of males and females to address challenges, it does so to bring attention to the fact that little is being done through public policy to advocate for the status of boys and men and not to underscore the need to address challenges of women and girls.
It’s one of the reasons Global Initiative for Boys & Men is hosting a live webinar with Professor Don Dutton on Thursday, September 30 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time to encourage an open conversation regarding domestic violence. The webinar is free and sponsored by the Global Initiative for Boys & Men.