Intimate Partner Violence: Demystifying Male Victimization
Author Khalei Suol
Historically, men have been taught to be strong and detach from emotions that are associated with sensitivity, in turn, making anger and aggression acceptable forms of communication. It is with this in mind that men of all backgrounds have been tied to hyper violence as well as violent emotional outburst. Thus, when a man states he has been abused by a woman it is difficult for the masses to cognitively comprehend that he has been mistreated. Abuse occurs when an individual’s interactions are violent, cruel, or demeaning and is most commonly associated with physical mistreatment. Although, said abuse can also be emotional, mental, or sexual in nature. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- 1 in 18 men are severely injured by a partner over their lifetime
- 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused (slammed against something, kicked, choked, burned, and/or hit with fist)
- 1 in 4 men have been physically abused (slapped, shoved, pushed) and
- 13.4% of male high school students report being physically/sexually abused by their partner
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is psychological, physical, or sexual abuse which is rooted in a close relationship between a couple. It is important to understand that the law views a couple as any two persons currently, or previously, dating, married, or living together.
Separate from acts of violence IPV also includes threats of abuse, threats of damage to property, stalking, and control. Control is the foundation of an abusive intimate partner relationship. It is through control that the abuser restricts, and monitors activates, limits access to friends and family, and can also include control of one’s finances. Stalking refers to a pattern of following or observing a person, typically stemming from an intimate relationship, in an invasive and/or harassing nature. Moreover, stalking includes direct threats, ill intent, interpersonal violence, and a determination to cause distress or bodily harm.
The Laws which target IPV are shaped in a manner absent of understanding male victims. For example, in North Carolina an individual can only be charged with assault on a female if he was born male, is at least 18 years of age, commits an assault, and said assault is committed on a female. This charge carries a punishment of a Class A1 misdemeanor which could carry a sentence of 1 to 150 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment, with a maximum jail sentence of 150 days plus fines and cost of court. Conversely, if a female assaults a male she may be charged with simple assault, which is a Class 2 Misdemeanor and carries a possible sentence of 1 to 60 days in active, intermediate, or community punishment, with a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a possible fine of 1000. Although we are all created equal, through the lens of these statues female abusers are given softer punishments when compared to their male counter parts.
Culturally Americans view women as sensitive, emotional, and weaker than men. Statistics show that women are physically abused by males at higher rates. However, there is little data that reflects the emotional abuse from female to male in intimate relationships. I would suggest that this stems from the cultural upbringing of men and women. As prior stated men are socialized to reject their feelings as a means to keep their manhood. This is to say that to be viewed as a “real” man you have to be emotionally withdrawn. Conversely, women are socialized to easily express how they feel and express their emotions. Through these cultural norms men have learned to deal with women who are emotionally toxic, verbally abusive, and controlling and equate it to “that’s just how women are”.
Males are less likily to report abuse, appear in court, and be believed when they do report abuse. For example, Dennis Adrian Power an African American male and New Jersey native was stabbed by his live-in girlfriend Ciara Williams in 2019. Prior to the stabbing Dennis shared pictures and videos with his sister documenting his abuse. In an interview with his sister, she told our sources, Dennis called the cops when she hit him, and they would tell him to leave. As seen in the pictures these attacks were extremely violent and led to his untimely death. According to his sister Dennis was stabbed in a port located in his chest, prior used to treat cancer. The knife was removed from his chest and Dennis was driven to Ocean Medical Center where he was left outside the emergency room doors. Williams than fled and disappeared for a day. In a message sent to his sister on March 2, 2018 he tells her “if you don’t hear from me by 7 am Ciara did something to me”, this is followed by a picture where you can see a visible bleeding wound on his face. As documented in the photos, provided by Dennis’s sister, Dennis attempted to leave Ms. Williams several times and she would follow him to friends’ homes and threaten everyone present. Photos have been redacted as a means to protect the family members and friends. Dennis Adrian Power was in the process of fighting for custody of his children and attempting to better himself and his life. His sister reported to us that the scars of his death are still healing, she misses and loves her brother.
When we consider violence against men it is evident that legislation should be restructured. As reported by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, when a woman attacks a man, it is likely that she is the victim or was acting in self-defense. Viewing male abuse through this lens creates barriers to care and clear unjust treatment of male victims. This also suggest that women are allowed to respond to men with violence with little reprimand. Abuse is abuse and it knows no gender. Laws should be structured in a way which deters all persons from committing abuse equally. For us all, physical wounds heal, however, the emotional aftereffects of IPV change the frame in which a person views the world. In a world so focused on equality it shouldn’t be difficult to believe, assist, protect, and support male survivors.
Check the sources:
Common Misdemeanor Crimes and Sentences in North Carolina. (2022). Browning and Long LLC. Retrieved from https://www.browninglonglaw.com/library/misdemeanor-charges-and-penalties-in-north-carolina.cfm
Male Victims of Intimate partner Violence. (2022). National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Retrieved from https://assets.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/male_victims_of_intimate_partner_violence.pdf
Smith, J. (2012). Crimes: A Guidebook on the Elements of Crime. UNC School of Government.
Why Do Women Use Force or Violence in Intimate Partner Relationships? (2022). National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Retrieved from https://assets.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/why_women_use_force_or_violence_in_intimate_partner_relationships.pdf