Understanding why men stay in abusive relationships or remain silent: Do any of these questions sound familiar? "Why don't you leave if it's that bad?" or "How can you let this happen?" or "Stand up to her." "I wouldn't put up with that if I were you." or how about the king of asinine questions... " Why don't you just kick her out? "
By asking those questions or making those statements, friends and family members are re-victimizing us. Not having been abused, they have absolutely no idea what our life is like on a daily basis - week after week - month after month - year after year.
They have not been clawed, stabbed, pinched, slapped, punched or kicked in the groin. They haven't lost confidence and trust in themselves because they believed "I'll never do it again." for the 100th time. Their self-esteem has not been worn down with the shame of being humiliated, degraded and yelled at rather than loved and respected.
They do not understand how living with abuse gradually deteriorates soul and self - piece by piece. Only those of us who are being abused can understand we've stayed. We have a million reasons why we can't stay and a million reasons why we can't leave.
Why battered men don't leave or remain silent
- Shame: What will my friends, family, colleagues and neighbors think? What will people think if they knew I let a woman beat up on me? It's a private matter - it belongs in the family. If I say anything, she'll tell everyone I'm the abusive one, and shame me in public. I'm ashamed I'm not strong enough to defend myself. Everyone knows it's men that are the violent ones [the shame of male for being male].
- Self-Worth I probably deserved it. This is the best I deserve. With my looks, or age, or personality, or income, this is as good a relationship as I'll ever be able to get.
- Denial: It's not that bad. All I have to do is leave the house until she cools down. [ That's what TV star Phil Hartman said just before his wife murdered him then killed herself. ] I can weather this one, just like I did the others.
- Inertia: It's too hard to do anything. I'm not ready for that much change in my life. I'll do it tomorrow, or later, when I'm not so busy. Sounds like a lot of work - more to take care of than I can handle right now.
- Force of habit: I'm used to life the way it is now.
- Inertia: It's too hard to do anything. I'm not ready for that much change in my life. I'll do it tomorrow, or later, when I'm not so busy. Sounds like a lot of work - more to take care of than I can handle right now. Force of habit. I'm used to life the way it is now.
- The Kids: Another reason for staying is to protect the kids. The research shows that people who assault their partners, women as well as men, are likely to assault their children, too. If he leaves, chances are he'll never be able to come back.
In today's climate, there's a good chance she'll be able to allege that he has assaulted her or assaulted or even sexually abused the kids and get a protection order on her say-so, barring him from seeing the kids.
This is a common theme in many battered men's personal stories. If you need to come up with a safety plan and plan out a way for you and the kids to leave the abusive relationship, you also need a "dose of reality" about what some of the risks and problems are. They aren't insurmountable problems, and many men have overcome them, but they can be difficult ones.
- Fear of having a 911 call turned around: If a man is being battered and trying to protect the kids, and he calls 911, all too frequently he is the one who ends up being arrested. At a minimum, he may experience problems getting the police to believe that he's been assaulted or that he needs police help.
Murray A. Straus, Family Violence Researcher writes:
"Men are also less likely to call the police, even when there is injury, because, like women, they feel shame about disclosing family violence. But for many men, the shame is compounded by the shame of not being able to keep their wives under control. Among this group, a "real man" would be able to keep her under control.
Moreover, the police tend to share these same traditional gender role expectations. This adds to the legal and regulatory presumption that the offender is a man. As a result, the police are reluctant to arrest women for domestic assault.
Women know this. That is, they know they are likely to be able to get away with it. As in the case of other crimes, the probability of a woman assaulting her partner is strongly influenced by what she thinks she can get away with."
Why don't abused men seek help? - by Doug Flor
* NOTE: Doug Flor, a therapist who has dealt with abuse issues in his own life, posted this article Usenet. He was formerly a project coordinator for the Department of Child and Family Development and the Adolescent Development Research Program, Institute for Behavioral Research, The University of Georgia.
"Yes, you may cross post the message. Making it anonymous is not necessary, people may think I was a woman and that is something I wish to avoid. As a victim of spousal abuse from my former marriage partner, Why did I not leave? Go to a shelter? Get help anywhere?
First, I loved my former spouse.
Even though she had a problem with violence, there was more to her than just the abusive behavior. I sought to work out the problem. She refused to admit that she "had a problem" [some- thing many women's groups deny today, as well].
Second, I love my children.
I felt that by being an active parent I could moderate or deflect any abuse that might be inflicted on the children. Today, they are adults. But I know that the courts don't give a man a fair shake when it comes to custody. A man can't be just a good father in order to gain custody of his children, he has to prove the mother to be incompetent.
This only makes an adversarial situation more adversarial and we know that the single biggest predictor of emotional and behavioral problems in children is open hostile conflict between parents.
I was unwilling to "go to bat" for my children as it would mean subjecting them to more negative behavior. By staying in an abusive relationship, I was able to assure myself that I would have access to my children and that they could see that there was a different way to have a relationship with a parent.
Third, there is a stigma attached to being a male victim of spousal abuse that even permeates our field.
I had a discussion with a male professor at one university [in a family department] that refused to believe that a woman could be abusive. Try talking as a male victim to others that you are a victim of this kind of behavior and you will get such reactions as this:
- you wimp
- why don't you take it like a man
- you must be a controlling man or she wouldn't do that
- you must be abusive too
These are a few reactions I have encountered by people in our field. How could I expect to have any kind of understanding from people who were NOT expected to understand families [police, etc]. While I did encounter some people in this field who were understanding, it was still very embarassing for me on both the personal and professional levels.
Fourth, there are VERY FEW programs [if any] designed to help battered males.
In the United States, we just passed a bill called the Defense of Women's Act targeting all kinds of money for female victims of spousal abuse, but what about the men in this situation? By refusing to earmark monies to programs that are inclusive of men, we deny that a problem exists [that women can be abusive] and perpetuate an implicit message that it is perfectly OK to abuse men. THIS IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM.
Fifth, even when researchers use data sets that could illuminate the problem of familial violence by forming a theoretical framework that isn't biased [or blind], they get attacked by the more radical, extremist political agendas of groups who wish to exclude, hide, or just ignore the issue by focusing only on the "real" victims of spousal abuse.
The political agenda of these various groups say that they can only look at one type of abuse [because it is "more important"]. And while some give lipservice to the issue of male victims, they rarely, if ever discuss the issue without revictimizing men who have experienced abuse. Where is the "ethic of caring" in that?
Familial Violence is Wrong
The betrayal of a prime theoretical supposition to maintain a blindsightedness because it fails to meet their political agenda makes me highly suspect of these groups. They seem to have an axe to grind and they would rather remain blind, intolerant, and uncaring than to admit their political agenda is driving their theory and research.
Familial violence, whether it is perpetrated by a male or female, on an adult male or female [or child, whether male or female] is wrong.
But in trying to ascertain why it is perpetrated and why individuals stay in abusive relationships is very complex. Most of the reasoning, research, help, and content is still blind to the issue of male victims."
Why Don't Battered Men Seek Help? © by Doug Flor
[ "Why don't abused men seek help?" by Doug Flor. Thank you for making this information available. ]
More Reasons Why Men Stay
- Fear: The number one reason for not leaving is fear. Our fears are not unfounded given the fact that battered men are most at risk during leaving or after having left an abusive relationship.
It is very important that our expression of fear not be minimized. If a decision to leave has been made, a safety plan must be put in place if you have reason to be afraid for your life. Don't take any chances if your partner threatened to kill you. When you're dead.. you're dead... that's it.
- Lack of Resources: Since one of the major components of abuse is isolation, we often lack a support system. Our family ties and friendships have been destroyed, leaving us psychologically and financially dependent on our abusive partner.
- Lack of Finances and Economic Reality: The economic reality for men [particularly those with children] is often a bleak one. Perhaps economic dependence on the abuser is a very real reason for remaining in the relationship. Public assistance programs have been drastically reduced and those that remain provide inadequate benefits.
- Children: Being a single parent is a strenuous experience under the best of circumstances, and for most men, conditions are often far from fair and just when it comes to receiving either equal custodial access or full custody of their children from the court system.
The enormous responsibility of raising children alone can be overwhelming. Often, our abuser may threaten to take the children away from us if we make attempts to leave.
- Feelings of Guilt: Sometimes we may believe that our wife is "sick" and/or needs our help; the idea of leaving can thus produce feelings of guilt.
- Promises of Reform: Our abuser promises it will never happen again; we want to believe this is true.
- Sex-role Conditioning: Most men are still taught to be the protector and the family provider. To leave is to abandon them and therefore admit failure.
- Religious Beliefs and Values: Religious beliefs reinforce the commitment to marriage. Many faiths hold that the husband is responsible for the welfare of his family. This may be a powerful reason for staying in a destructive relationship.
- Societal Disbelief Concerning Battered Men: Many people turn a "deaf ear" to marital violence and believe that what goes on behind closed doors is a "private matter."
The observance of a burglary, child abuse, or even cruelty to animals in the neighbourhood might quickly be reported; whereas, an assault on a husband or significant other may not and often is not reported.
- Love for Spouse: Most people enter a relationship for love, and that emotion does not simply disappear easily or in the face of difficulty. After a battering, our abuser is often extremely penitent. Because our self-esteem is so low following the incident, the apologies and promises of reform are often perceived as the end of the abuse.
The repetition of abuse, apology, wonderful life, tension, abuse, apology ad nausem is known as the Cycle of Abuse. We call it The Terminator.
- Men are people too Men are where women were twenty to thirty years ago when it comes to the topic of domestic violence.
- Battered man syndrome To understand battered men's syndrome, one must first understand how someone becomes a "battered man".
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