Domestic violence — also known as intimate partner violence — occurs between people who are or have been in a close relationship. Domestic violence can take many forms, including emotional, sexual and physical abuse, stalking and threats of abuse. It can happen in heterosexual or same-sex relationships.
Abusive relationships always involve an imbalance of power and control. An abuser uses intimidating, hurtful words and behaviours to control his or her partner.
It might not be easy to recognize domestic violence against men. Early in the relationship, your partner might seem attentive, generous and protective in ways that later turn out to be controlling and frightening. Initially, the abuse might appear as isolated incidents. Your partner might apologize and promise not to abuse you again.
You might be experiencing domestic violence if your partner:
- Calls you names, insults you or puts you down
- Prevents you from going to work or school
- Stops you from seeing family members or friends
- Tries to control how you spend money, where you go or what you wear
- Acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
- Gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs
- Tries to control whether you can see a health care provider
- Threatens you with violence or a weapon
- Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets
- Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
- Blames you for his or her violent behaviour or tells you that you deserve it
- Threatens to tell friends, family, colleagues or community members your sexual orientation or gender identity
If you’re gay, bisexual or transgender, you might also be experiencing domestic violence if you’re in a relationship with someone who:
- Tells you that authorities won’t help a gay, bisexual or transgender person
- Tells you that leaving the relationship means you’re admitting that gay, bisexual or transgender relationships are deviant
- Justifies abuse by telling you that you’re not “really” gay, bisexual or transgender
- Says that men are naturally violent
You may not be sure whether you’re the victim or the abuser. It’s common for survivors of domestic violence to act out verbally or physically against the abuser, yelling, pushing, or hitting him or her during conflicts. The abuser may use such incidents to manipulate you, describing them as proof that you are the abusive partner.
You may have developed unhealthy behaviors. Many survivors do. That doesn’t mean you are at fault for the abuse.
If you’re having trouble identifying what’s happening, take a step back and look at larger patterns in your relationship. Then, review the signs of domestic violence. In an abusive relationship, the person who routinely uses these behaviours is the abuser. The person on the receiving end is being abused.
Even if you’re still not sure, seek help. Intimate partner violence causes physical and emotional damage — no matter who is at fault.
If you’re in an abusive situation, you might recognize this pattern:
- Your abuser threatens violence.
- Your abuser strikes you.
- Your abuser apologizes, promises to change and offers gifts.
- The cycle repeats itself.
Typically, the violence becomes more frequent and severe over time.
Domestic violence can leave you depressed and anxious, and can increase your risk of having a drug or alcohol problem. Because men are traditionally thought to be physically stronger than women, you might be less likely to report domestic violence in your heterosexual relationship due to embarrassment. You might also worry that people will minimize the importance of the abuse because you’re a man. Similarly, a man being abused by another man might be reluctant to talk about the problem because of how it reflects on his masculinity or because it exposes his sexual orientation.
If you seek help, you also might find that there are fewer resources for male victims of domestic violence. Health care providers and other contacts might not think to ask if your injuries were caused by domestic violence, making it harder to open up about abuse. You might fear that if you talk to someone about the abuse, you’ll be accused of wrongdoing yourself. Remember, though, if you’re being abused, you aren’t to blame — and help is available.
Start by telling someone about the abuse, whether it’s a friend, relative, health care provider or other close contact. At first, you might find it hard to talk about the abuse. However, you’ll also likely feel relief and receive much-needed support.
The 8882-498-498 helpline for men in distress, run by 40 NGOs across states, claim to have received 37,000 calls since it was launched a year ago.
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