Across the world, there is a stereotype that domestic violence and abuse only involves a man abusing a woman. Women are perceived to be the weaker, gentler sex, while men are seen as being stronger and having regular tendencies regarding abuse. While men generally commit more abusive behaviours within intimate relationships, females also perpetrate abuse against their partners. Women who abuse men often brainwash their partner to believe he is not manly (or whatever words she uses to diminish his self-esteem), and then society tells him that it is not masculine enough to admit that his partner abuses him. Men can chose to suffer silently instead of getting the support they need to leave.
Abusive women often generally use emotional, mental or psychological abuse tactics including:
- Name calling
- Public humiliation
- Extreme mood swings
- Constant anger or displeasure
- Withholding sex
Examples of the ways women perpetrate physical abuse include:
- Hitting with fists or feet
- Using weapons e.g. knives or scissors
- Harming pets
- Destroying possessions
A man being abused may try evasive strategies such as:
- Avoiding discussing the abuse fearing he will appear weak or speak about the abuse if his partner is present, fearing another episode of abuse.
- Excessive reading, watching TV, playing video games or substance abuse, especially alcohol as a way of escaping reality.
- The ongoing stress can cause physical symptoms like headaches, insomnia, fatigue and indigestion,
- Abused men may decide to stay at work longer than necessary or pursue activities after work avoiding going home for as long as possible.
- Abused men often have difficulty trusting others, low self-esteem, emotional numbness, depression or suicidal thoughts.
- Suicidal thoughts may result in reckless behaviour including reckless driving or a fascination with extreme sports where death could be considered an accident.
Abusive women are repeatedly excused for damaging behaviours while men who officially report domestic abuse can be treated with suspicion, so seeking out a variety of support agencies may be required. Experiencing abuse is often emotionally and mentally exhausting for either gender and it takes time to heal. It is always wise to consult a therapist who has knowledge of abuse suffered by men within an intimate relationship.