Do Men Experience Domestic Abuse? (Part 2)

Amanda Luzzader

While there are fewer male survivors of domestic abuse in the United States, it’s still a serious problem.

In the wake of the sensational celebrity defamation trial of Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, we are discussing male victims of domestic abuse. In the first part of this two-part article, we explained that, while there are fewer male survivors of domestic abuse in the United States, it’s still a serious problem. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSVS), undertaken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2016, one in nine men (about 11 percent) in the United States “were victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.” These incidents were classified by their negative impacts, which includes “injury, fear, concern for safety, [or] needing services.”

Men and domestic abuseThis article is not specifically intended to advise men who have suffered domestic abuse, but it’s very important to know that the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) is available to anyone in the United States who is experiencing domestic abuse. The NDVH is cost-free, available 24/7, and is confidential.

If you or someone you know needs to escape domestic abuse, contact the NDVH by the following means:

Phone: 800-799-7233

Text: Text START to 88788

Online chat:

Why don’t we hear more about male victims of domestic abuse?One reason the issue of male victims of domestic abuse is not more widely known is that it may be under-reported by the survivors themselves. A review of cases and reports of domestic abuse among men, conducted by the medical journal BMJ Open, found that male victims of domestic abuse face barriers when deciding whether to report their situations or seek assistance. These barriers are:

  • Fear of disclosure: Fear that the situation will come to light
  • Challenge to masculinity: Feelings of male inadequacy connected to being abused
  • Commitment to relationship: Not wanting to disrupt the relationship by reporting the abuse
  • Diminished confidence/despondency: Helplessness or depression about the situation
  • Invisibility/perception of services: Feeling that no assistance is available to male victims

Why do men remain in abusive relationships?According to an article published by HelpGuide, an independent nonprofit that provides free mental health education and support, men remain in abusive relationships for many of the reasons cited by female victims. These may include:

  • Shame: Men may feel embarrassed to admit that they’ve abused
  • Religious beliefs: Some religious beliefs require male abuse victims to accept blame for abuse
  • Lack of resources: Men may feel they will not be believed or that no assistance is available for them
  • Not yet “out”: Some male victims of domestic abuse may be in same-sex relationships and worried that taking action against their abuser may inadvertently out them
  • Children: Men may accept abuse to shield children from relationship stress or break-up

What resources are available to men who have experienced domestic abuse?Women’s shelters are organizations and facilities that harbor women who are attempting to escape abuse and abusive relationships. Many of these facilities offer shelter and protection not only to abused women but to their children, as well. In 2009, it was reported that in the United States there were around 2,000 women’s shelters. Shelters for male survivors of domestic abuse are much, much rarer. In 2017, news reporting by the New York Post and National Public Radio indicated that there may have been as few as two male-only domestic abuse shelters in the United States at that time. While few existing domestic abuse shelters offer their services to men, the situation is improving. The NDVH (see above) is probably the best source of assistance for male survivors of domestic abuse. It offers its services to all individuals, and can assist men in seeking advice, shelter, and legal aid.

Men respond to domestic violence in the same way women and other people do. According to the Mayo Clinic, domestic violence can lead to depression and a greater risk of other health problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse. That’s why it’s strongly recommended that male survivors of domestic abuse seek help, despite the obstacles they face. Friends, family, medical-care providers, mental health-care providers and the police are also resources men can turn to.

More Articles You Might Enjoy

Didn’t find what you’re looking for?