“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” – Michael J. Fox, Actor
From physical abuse to coercive control, around 700,000 victims of domestic violence are men – one in three of all victims. But campaigners say men find it especially hard to get access to support services. It is important to acknowledge men suffer from abuse as well especially when considering the high rate of male suicide. While there is not any data to support the notion a certain amount of men take their lives due to relationship abuse, it is not a far fetched idea. Record numbers of men are reporting domestic abuse by their partners to police – as the proportion of women victims turning to police has fallen, according to the ONS UK November 2018. Of course abuse can be emotional, mental or psychological. It can be very difficult for a man to find someone willing to believe that they’re a victim of abuse within a relationship. Many abusers can mimic emotions very well and this often lures people into their web of abuse and deceit, deception and dishonesty. While some may be personality disordered, that doesn’t mean these individuals lack intelligence: what they lack is sympathy, empathy and consideration for others.
Men are socialized not to express their feelings or see themselves as victims. Our culture still clings to narrow definitions of gender with young boys being taught not to express their emotions; this can be extremely detrimental when they become adults especially if they find themselves in an abusive relationship. Men may feel discouraged to talk about what they are experiencing in their personal lives, or think no one will believe them so suffer in silence. They may not even realize they are being abused, or they might assume they should just deal with the abuse on their own. When it comes to the topic of abuse men often receive most of the focus and blame. However, abusive women are much more common than most people might think. Because of the different forms of abuse typically used by women they are harder to recognize; typically they abuse in subtler, less outward ways than men that can be difficult to spot. These tactics usually are hidden and don’t leave obvious wounds like a black eye.
My story in short: In the past I have been unwittingly become involved within an abusive, toxic so called relationship. (Relationships with abusers are often transactional – they often choose who to date based on how useful the target will be to them) She turned up at an event where I was conducting a workshop and approached me holding a copy of my first book (of course this was pre-planned) and engaged me in conversation. Of course she was charming, witty and appealing. We became involved but it turns out she was cheating and when confronted began to verbally abuse me online while pretending to be someone else – in fact she carried this out twice. Conducted a vicious smear campaign against me motivated by the fact I refused to have any further interaction or allow myself to be used for her own ambitions. Deceitful, deceptive, dishonest and manipulative as many abusers tend to be; these people have zero integrity, zero morals and zero conscience. The nature of I am glad to say I am a survivor of emotional, mental and psychological abuse; my journey has been arduous at times but I made it through to the other side to find peace, happiness and joy. The nature of abuse can be underhanded and insidious a lesson I have learnt very well.
Some people advocate the forgiveness of the abuser; if a person is not ready to forgive this approach in my opinion can be counter-productive to the healing process. Everyone is different and for some to acknowledge they have been hurt and to simply move on is enough in the short to medium term.
For All Victims of Abuse:
Forgive yourself for not know better at the time.
Forgive yourself for giving your power away.
Forgive yourself for past behaviours.
Forgive yourself for the survival patterns and traits you picked up while enduring trauma.
Forgive yourself for being deceived.
Forgive yourself for allowing the abuse in a fake relationship.
There is a myth that exists that says; ‘You attract who you are’ or ‘You attract where you are at.’ Abusers especially Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths are social predators; in reality these highly abusive people latch onto kind and generous individuals who could never imagine such evil exists. The truth is, abusers often have some type of personality or mental disorder and only care about their own selfish needs and desires. There are some women who are looking for a potential partner to provide some level of unpaid therapy; they want someone to make them happy, to make them feel good about themselves, to make them feel powerful or to act as a crutch for some other emotional or psychological need. There are others who will get involved with men simply to exploit them for their own personal gain whether that be financial, ambition or for other purely selfish reasons.
We need to realize that there are people in this world who want a relationship but will simply never be ready to engage in a healthy partnership. Abuse, whatever type it is, slowly erodes feelings of self-worth and self-esteem in ways victims may not even realize and it can take some time to recover. It is important to keep in mind that each individual will have a different response to being abused and the recovery process; there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Depending on the type of abuse a person experiences, their circumstances and personality, survivors will recover in different ways. Healing and recovery from an abusive relationship can be a challenging process with feelings of shock, disbelief, frustration, depression, loneliness, anger and frustration being just a few of the emotions a person may experience. Survivors can feel a decreased sense of self-esteem and self-worth. Abusive men and women often socially isolate their partners and so rebuilding a encouraging and loving support network of family and friends is immensely important to help a person move on.
The main reason men don’t seek help is often a fear of not being believed, embarrassment at talking about the abuse, or the feeling of being “less of a man”. Men can also lack the confidence to seek help as a result of the abuse. Men may be unaware of the specialist support services or can feel they were not appropriate for male survivors of abuse. While both men and women are reluctant to seek professional help for their abuse, there is an added barrier for men: many fear being falsely accused of being the perpetrator.
If you are a man involved with someone who is abusive either physically, emotionally, verbally or otherwise and you have been in this situation for a period a time without any signs of change, you should seek support immediately. Do not ignore incidents of emotional abuse or threats of physical violence; do not excuse it or deny what is happening. Learn to recognize what abuse really is and begin to plan your exit strategy as soon as possible. There are many supportive resources online.
Male Survivors of Relationship Abuse (MSRA) is a new Support Group on Facebook that share’s information, experiences and topics regarding abusive relationship issues. Men may feel discouraged to talk about what they are experiencing in their personal lives, or think no one will believe them so suffer in silence. The objectives of the Group is to provide an open, relaxing and comfortable environment for men suffering in silence and who seek on-line company, help, support, resources and assistance. https://www.facebook.com/groups/426019998008215/
My new book ‘How to Avoid Abusive Relationships: A Guide to Toxic Personalities’ will be published in 2019. ISBN confirmed.