Domestic Violence Against Men

Domestic violence, domestic abuse, dating abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV) or battering refers to a behavioral pattern in which one partner abuses another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, cohabitation or within a family setup. Domestic violence takes different forms, the most common being physical assault i.e. hitting, shoving, kicking, biting, slapping, shoving objects and general physical violence. It can also take the form of threats including sexual and emotional abuse, intimidation, controlling or domineering, stalking, covert abuses as well as economic deprivation (Siemineiuk et al. 2010). It can be inflicted on or by both men and women (Adebayo, 2014).

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Male domestic violence targets men inflicted by their partners. Though rare and hardly vocalized like its counterpart, violence against women, domestic violence against men is real. It occurs in every society though at varied degrees. The challenges faced when trying to collect statistics is that most families remain silent because of the shame and stigma associated with domestic violence as well as the ramifications on the relationships after disclosure.

This explains why domestic violence against men remains hidden and unreported. In addition, gender differences explain further the mixed results (Chan, 2011). A survey conducted in Canada in 2011 shows that sexual and physical victimization against men stands at 6%, compared to 7% among women. Even though women reported a higher rate of repeated violence with more likelihood of injuries as seen in the 23% females vs. 15% men facing serious violence forms including chocking, beating and being threatened with a knife or gun. Additionally 21% of women against 11% men are likely to report more than ten serious violence cases.

According to a survey by the United States Department of Justice out of the 16000 cases, 22.1% percent of the women and 7.4% of the men reported having been violently treated by their current or former partners, cohabiting partners, boyfriends or girlfriends or a date at some point in their lifetime (Tjaden and Thoennes, 2000). A different survey in 2010 by UK Home Office indicated that more than 21000 residents of England and Wales showed 7% of women and 4% of men being victims of domestic abuse in the previous year (Kevin et al. 2011). Domestic violence in Kenya is increasingly under study registering worrisome results. In a 2011 report, about 500000 men were beaten by their wives in Kenya (Odimegwu, 2012).These increased cases of husband battery can be attributed to increased female superiority complex (Adebayo, 2014).

Statistics, Estimates and Dynamics of Domestic Violence against Men

Even with no systematic study or records on violence against men, there is an estimate of 40 violence cases against men in every 100 domestic violence cases reported. Little evidence is available on violence against men hence getting the actual number of cases becomes dynamically impossible. Various reasons for the under reporting exist. These could be social system setups in addition to values attached to men making them shy away from sharing and reporting violence cases against them. Unfortunately, very few people take men with such cases seriously.

People hardly listen when men report their struggles, torture and battles in marriage. They laugh and jeer at them. This makes many men hide their domestic violence issues (Sarkar et al. 2007). It is important to understand that the dynamics between domestic violence against men and women vary, as there are different reasons, purpose and motives behind each. Different studies on dynamics of violence against women are many compared to the limited versions on violence against men (Kumar 2012).

Save Family Foundation conducted a study (Sarkar et al. 2007) by interviewing randomly selected 1650 husbands between the age of 15 and 49. The selection was in accordance to a schedule adapted from WHO multicounty study on husbands’ health and domestic violence. The results indicate that the first common type of violence is economic at 32.8% followed by emotional violence at 22.2%, physical at 25.2% and sexual violence at 17.7%.

According to this study the probability of violence increases with marriage duration especially when the marriage is over seven years old. Furthermore, it shows that husbands who experienced violence in their first year of marriage continue to do so throughout the entire marriage life. This is something that sticks. According to the study. Domestic violence is a public health issue with far reaching consequences than is often discussed, some of them including stress disorders and mental illnesses that require immediate fixing. It is also seen that domestic violence cuts across all socioeconomic classes. Furthermore, the study proposes that most husbands suffering from domestic violence are highly educated and earning good salaries (Kumar2012).

There are many reasons why men tolerate and stick in abusive relationships. Some of the common reasons are the belief that things will get better, fear of losing social respect among peers, protective purposes, as well as love for children and family. In most cases, men in abusive relationship feel it is their responsibility to make the marriage work. They fear being blamed when things fail to work out. Furthermore, a good number of abused men feel like they deserved the treatment for being at fault. One more reason is the increased economic dependency on women. (Kumar 2012)

Usually violence against men is considered less serious because of its unique presentation. In this form of violence, women tend to use mental, emotional and other forms of abuses that involve less physical action. The evidence is therefore less apparent and as such not likely to come to the attention of other people. Most men are sensitive to emotional and psychological abuse. In certain cases, humiliating a man emotionally before his peers is far more devastating than any physical abuse. Mental and emotional abuse is an area where women can be brutal compared to men. However, what hurts a man emotionally may not be the same as what will hurt a woman. In some cases calling a man impotent, a coward and failure can affect a man differently than a woman would be affected. Using unkind and hurtful words linger differently among men and women. In most cases men are more affected by emotional abuse than physical abuse. (Kumar, 2012)

Violence against men and women: nature and form

A good number of men have reported coming home to grumbling, murmuring and cursing wives. In addition, many men have reported women withholding sex for no apparent reason. In addition, most women use sex as a bargaining chip. A good number of men also fear their wives and in laws because of being threatened for what their wives said. It is also seen from the study that most women taking part in domestic violence are verbally abusive. The insults go to their men and his aged parents. Their different ways through which women harass and find faults which could be related to their profession, sexual life, daily work as well as attitude. It is common to find men who are unable to satisfy all their wives needs especially after a certain age because of physical issues. In most marriages physical disability in the bedroom results from the wives sarcasm because the verbal abuse causes mental torture. Usually the society is not receptive of the fact that women can harass men mentally and verbally. In other instances as shown by studies, when main fail to do what the wife requests, the resulting effect would be torture and threats from in laws and sometimes-false accusations follow. (Kumar, 2012)

Consequences to Violence against Men

The need to focus on acts of violence on health and behavior of an individual is important especially when assuming that women are increasingly becoming more powerful while men suffer more forms of domestic violence. This can be manifested differently in an individual’s health i.e. physically, emotionally, psychologically as well as socially and economically. Inadequate attention given to this issue results in prolonged poor habits of alcoholism, stress, increased homosexual behaviors, suicide, frustrations, among others (Kumar, 2012).

Discrimination against Men as Victims of Domestic Violence

The fact is that both men and women suffer from domestic violence making them victims. Female violence may be over emphasized but male domestic violence also exists. Naturally, men are stronger than women but this does not shield them all the time. The problem is that an abused man is hardly listened to. The challenges of an abused husband getting custody of his kids from an abusive mother range from shortage of resources, police skepticism, and a ton of legal constraints. Many activism and sensitizations deal with female cases ignoring male plights in the process thus dooming them to suffer in silence.

Many similarities exist between male and female victims and their abusers. The only difference is that male victims are in a situation that female victims were three decades ago. There cases are viewed as insignificant with the greatest blame being heaped on them in addition to being exposed to little resources. Three quarters of male violence victims contacting hotlines and abuse shelters have been shunned away as the facilities assist women only, while two thirds of these men were treated as abusers rather than victims. In a study by the University of New Hampshire, a researcher by the name Murray Strauts calls this selective inattention because more emphasis is laid on female cases even with research proving, that both genders suffer, since 1977. The researcher and partners found out that incidences were equal for both males and females in mild circumstances. However, in severe violence cases more men than women were victimized with 1.8 million women suffering and 2 million men suffering severe violence too.

Women may suffer a great deal of injuries including both mild and serious but when rating those injuries where weapons are involved both genders suffer on an equal scale (Cook, 2009). In most domestic violence cases the male is often assumed as the aggressor while the woman victim. Little research is done on the risks a male is likely to face when abused by his partner in an abusive intimate relationship. Family violence research on the risk faced by both males and females in abusive relationships often masks the male risks due to the high number of women injured because of domestic violence. Judicial systems also base decisions on the fact that guilt follows the offenders and not the offended. This is actually not applicable in domestic violence as the opposite is true for domestic violence against men. Victims in such cases are often filled with guilt resulting in multiple psychological tortures including drugs and alcohol abuse, mood disorders and even suicide. Today’s analysis show that men could be on the receiving end of aggression acts (Kumar 2012). The extent of physical combat by female counterparts is currently unknown.

Both cases should raise concern. Straus warns of dangers involved especially for women when physical aggression becomes a routine to relationships’ misunderstandings. In addition, men subjected to systematic and prolonged violence suffer both physical and psychological consequences in addition to a challenge of failure to recognize their plight (Adebayo, 2014). Some tend to lapse into self-pity while others might opt to bear it all and never tell anyone of their plight.


Domestic violence is depressing for victims irrespective of what gender they are. The counter moves could be turning to alcohol or drugs abuse and unprotected sex. Domestic violence has also been known to trigger suicide attempts. For this reason, male victims should be listened to more. In addition, these victims must be prepared to voice and speak about their situations often. Chances are that men would fear to be ridiculed or undermined for reporting domestic violence in their heterosexual relationships just because they are considered stronger than females. Furthermore, some worry is also on the fact that their plights’ significance is being reduced because they are male. It is important for men to talk to someone, be it a friend or health care provider or any other close person. (Adebayo 2014).

The power relations and norms of societies are changing. Men are sharing their agony of torture and harassment by spouses. Time has come to recognize this problem as a social and health challenge in order to formulate relevant strategies and interventions to assist them. Men are no longer stronger than women are. There is a need to seek help in family crisis and violence, more so those that are created by the spouse. Help for men who are victims of violence can be through appropriate intervention measures such as recognizing violence against males as a public health issue, creating helplines for men as well as creating awareness and educating the public in addition to offering necessary legal safeguards (Kumar, 2012).


Adebayo Anthony A. 2014. “Domestic Violence against Men: Balancing the Gender Issues in Nigeria.” American Journal of Sociological Research, 4(1): 14-19

Chan, Ko Ling. 2011. “Gender Differences in Self-Reports of Intimate Partner Violence: A Review.” Aggression and Violent Behavior (Elsevier) 16 (2): 167 — 175.

Cook, P.W. 2009. Abused Men — The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence (Preager second edition 2009).

Kevin Smith (Ed.), Kathryn Coleman, Simon Eder and Philip Hall 2011. “Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2009/10.” Home Office.

Kumar Anant. 2012. “Domestic Violence against Men in India: A Perspective,” Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 22:3, 290-296

Odimegwu Onwumere. 2012. The Modern Man in Kenya. Retrieved on 5 march 2015 from

Sarkar, S., Dsouza, R., & Dasgupta, A. 2007. Domestic violence against men — a study report by Save Family Foundation. New Delhi, India: Save Family Foundation. Retrieved from

Siemieniuk, R.A.C., Krentz, H.B., Gish, J.A. & Gill, M.J. 2010. “Domestic Violence Screening: Prevalence and Outcomes in a Canadian HIV Population.” AIDS Patient Care and STDs 24 (12): 763 — 770.

Tjaden P. And Thoennes, N. 2000. Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women. National Institute of Justice, United States Department of Justice.

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