Thank you for all your prayers. My new book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, has gone through the 2nd editing stage, and I am so happy with it. I hope you will be too. It has a new test to determine if your marriage is destructive, as well as a test to evaluate the health of your marriage. You will find specific steps on how to build your core strength back, how to prepare for a confrontation, and what to say and what not to say. Finally, you’ll get a roadmap of what true healing looks like and what choices you have if your husband is unwilling to take that path with you.
In the next few weeks, I will be offering a free introductory webinar on the topic of Emotionally Destructive Marriages. Stay tuned to learn how you can be a part of that webinar and invite interested friends. Although the book is written for women in destructive marriages, men are abused too. In this week’s blog, I want to acknowledge that sad reality.
Today’s question: I know you write mostly for women in abused marriages, but I want you to know men are victims too. When a man bullies his wife, she’s seen as a victim, but when a wife bullies her husband, he’s seen as a wimp. And, I’m afraid I am a wimp. I am terrified to stand up to her because, if I do, she’ll leave me and take my children. There seems to be all sorts of resources for women who are abused, but not so for men. What are my options?
Answer: The church has often closed her eyes to female victims of domestic abuse, but for men there is even more sad news:
1. The Family Violence survey, as well as numerous other studies, has found that men are just as likely to be the victims of domestic violence as women are.
2. Men indeed have fewer resources to help them. The only national toll-free helpline for men is the Domestic Abuse Helpline (888 743 5754). Go to their website to find other helpful websites and resources for men who are abused www.dahmw.org. There are very few shelters (out of 1,200 to 1,800 DV shelters) that offer services to men.
3. Men are less likely to be supported or validated. Men who report abuse are often seen as wimpy, frail, passive, or stupid, thus making it much more likely that they won’t report. Suzanne Steinmentz, director of the Family Research Institute at Indiana University/Purdue said, “They [men] wouldn’t dream of reporting the kind of minor abuse–such as slapping or kicking–that women routinely report.” Why not? Because men are supposed to “take it like a man.”
4. Society doesn’t deem men as “victims,” and we tend to perceive women more vulnerable than men. Therefore, abuse by a woman toward a man may seem more justified or excusable than abuse by a man toward a woman. A recent study revealed that more than 51% of men and 52% of women felt that sometimes it was appropriate for a wife to slap her husband. On the other hand, only 26% of men and 21% of women felt it was ever appropriate for a husband to slap his wife.
5. A man calling the police to report domestic abuse is three times more likely to be arrested than the woman who is abusing him. This makes him afraid to report, thus making the statistics for abuse of men higher than we know.
6. When a woman is abusive, she is more likely to be seen as “sick” and labeled with a mental health diagnosis. People tend to be more compassionate toward someone labeled sick. When a man is abusive, he is more likely to be labeled with entitlement issues, power and control problems, character defects or sin problems. Compassion is directed toward the female victim, not the male offender.
I have worked with a few women in my counseling practice who were abusive towards their husbands or boyfriends, and they have the same sense of entitlement that men who abuse women have. They seem to believe that if their husband or boyfriend does something they don’t like or disapprove of, they are entitled to express their negative feelings in abusive ways. One woman I worked with threw a glass filled with beer at her boyfriend’s face in a public place because she didn’t’ like that he said “hi” to another woman there. She saw nothing wrong with her actions when later we discussed it.
My heart goes out to you because there is a growing cultural awareness and sympathy for women who are abused and mistreated, but less so for men. There is still the typical idea that if you manned-up, your wife wouldn’t be abusing you. It’s not true
Domestic violence isn’t a woman’s problem or a man’s problem. It is a human problem, it’s a sin problem, and it’s a tragedy. As Christian’s, we must take a more proactive role in helping both men and women address and heal the violence in their heart and their homes. We must help boys and girls learn proper ways to treat one another, even when they're angry and upset and we must stop being silent bystanders when we see bullying behaviors towards others.
Please know, God gives wisdom for both the victim and abuser to heal and to change so that generational patterns can be broken. But that will only happen as they find support and encouragement to speak up and speak out about this so that they can receive the help they and their loved ones desperately need.
Let’s make sure that we as their pastors, counselors and spiritual friends have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Those of you who know of resources for men – please share them with us.