Help for abused men: Why men don’t leave
Many people have trouble understanding why a woman who is being abused by her husband or boyfriend doesn’t simply just leave him. When the roles are reversed, and the man is the victim of the abuse, people are even more bemused. However, anyone who’s been in an abusive relationship knows that it’s never that simple. Ending a relationship, even an abusive one, is rarely easy.
You may feel that you have to stay in the relationship because:
- You want to protect your children. You worry that if you leave your spouse will harm your children or prevent you from having access to them. Obtaining custody of children is always challenging for fathers, but even if you are confident that you can do so, you may still feel overwhelmed at the prospect of raising them alone.
- You feel ashamed. Many men feel great shame that they’ve been beaten down by a woman or failed in their role as protector and provider for the family.
- Your religious beliefs dictate that you stay or your self-worth is so low that you feel this relationship is all you deserve.
- There’s a lack of resources. Many men have difficulty being believed by the authorities, or their abuse is minimized because they’re male, and can find few resources to help abused men.
- You’re in a same sex relationship but haven’t come out to family or friends, and are afraid your partner will out you.
- Denial. Just as with female domestic violence victims, denying that there is a problem in your relationship will only prolong the abuse. You may believe that you can help your abuser or she may have promised to change. But change can only happen once your abuser takes full responsibility for her behavior and seeks professional treatment.
Help for abused men: Finding support
For tips on safely leaving an abusive relationship
See Help for Abused and Battered Women. While it’s written specifically for women, the emotional issues are similar so can be helpful to men as well.
Domestic violence and abuse can have a serious physical and psychological impact on both you and your children. The first step to stopping the abuse is to reach out. Talk to a friend, family member, or someone else you trust, or call a domestic violence helpline.
Admitting the problem and seeking help doesn’t mean you have failed as a man or as a husband. You are not to blame, and you are not weak. As well as offering a sense of relief and providing some much needed support, sharing details of your abuse can also be the first step in building a case against your abuser and protecting your kids.
When dealing with your abusive partner:
- Leave if possible. Be aware of any signs that may trigger a violent response from your spouse or partner and be ready to leave quickly. If you need to stay to protect your children, call the emergency services. The police have an obligation to protect you and your children, just as they do a female victim.
- Never retaliate. An abusive woman or partner will often try to provoke you into retaliating or using force to escape the situation. If you do retaliate, you’ll almost certainly be the one who is arrested and/or removed from your home.
- Get evidence of the abuse. Report all incidents to the police and get a copy of each police report. Keep a journal of all abuse with a clear record of dates, times, and any witnesses. Include a photographic record of your injuries and make sure your doctor or hospital also documents your injuries. Remember, medical personnel are unlikely to ask if a man has been a victim of domestic violence, so it’s up to you to ensure the cause of your injuries are documented.
- Keep a mobile phone, evidence of the abuse, and other important documents close at hand. If you and your children have to leave instantly in order to escape the abuse, you’ll need to take with you evidence of the abuse and important documents, such as passport and driver’s license. It may be safer to keep these items outside of the home.
- Obtain advice from a domestic violence program or legal aid resource about getting a restraining order or order of protection against your spouse and, if necessary, seeking temporary custody of your children.