Broken Boys to Whole Men: #8 – Hidden and Silent: Domestic Abuse of Men

In previous posts in this series, I’ve written about how we raise boys to be strong, to not express emotion, and to not appear weak. This leads to silence around matters such as mental illness and addiction, and delays men in getting the help they need.

The same is true in one of the least-reported problems men face: domestic abuse. Men are reluctant to report abuse because they fear no one will believe them. And the concept of abuse towards men is foreign to many of us because we’re accustomed to victims being female.

But each year in the U.S., about 3.2 million men are victims of assault by an intimate partner. A lot of these cases are minor (pushing, slapping or hitting), but many are more serious, even fatal.

In spite of the fact that most men won’t admit to being in an abusive relationship, up to 29% of straight men, 26% of gay men, and 39% of bisexual men report being the victims of domestic abuse. Nearly 48% of men have experienced psychological and emotional abuse by an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most common form of abuse is also the hardest form of abuse to detect—emotional abuse. If one insults or humiliates, belittles a partner or blames them for problems in the relationship, that’s abuse.

Controlling behavior, such as isolating a person from their friends or family, trying to drive a wedge between a partner and their friends, taking money from them without permission, using sex and intimacy as a weapon, hiding a partner’s keys or phone, snooping in a partner’s mail, text messages, emails, or phone call records—these, too, are abusive behavior.

So is gaslighting behavior such as accusing the partner of abuse, not letting them leave the relationship, or abandoning them.

Physical abuse can take the form of threatening a partner or their pets, repeatedly endangering the partner’s safety by driving recklessly, depriving them of sleep, or direct physical abuse such as spitting, hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, or physically restraining them.

No one deserves to be abused, controlled, manipulated repeatedly in a relationship. Men can break the silence and report abuse by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799- SAFE (7233) or (800) 787-3224.

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