Domestic Violence (DV) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) are not confined to any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment, or marital status. Anybody can be a victim. Domestic Violence is not a gender issue. Both men and women can be abused.
Domestic violence is a human issue – just like all violence. In domestic relations, women are as inclined as men to engage in physically abusive acts. Yet societal consciousness has ascribed the issue with a masculine behavior of assault, thereby rendering a false and inaccurate view of the problem. This popular view has led to social policies that are frail in addressing the problem of domestic violence successfully. One look at efforts of giant policy think tanks such as the United Nations and you can see that social and developmental policies regarding domestic violence take the popular view. Yet, the social malaise is just observably getting worse.
California State University Professor Martin Fiebert summarizes almost 200 studies online about assaults by women on their intimate partners. Last updated in May 2008, the bibliography examines 219 scholarly investigations, of which 170 are empirical studies and 49 are reviews and/or analyses. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 221,300. The findings disclose that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. This sociological data shows that women initiate domestic violence as often as men do, that women use weapons more than men, and that 38% of injured victims are men.
On a wider scale, so as to merit logical generalizations, little is currently known about the actual number of men who are in an abusive domestic relationship. The biggest reason behind this is that fewer incidents are reported. Male victims are often ashamed that others will perceive them as weak or less of a man. They think that the police will not take their allegation seriously since “only men are the abusers.” They feel that people will not believe them.
Men’s gender-bias psyché further hampers them from admitting that they are, indeed, victims of DV. Even if the abusive incident happens publicly, men can justify their inaction by saying that they will never retaliate. Thus, they interpret the abuse as a sign of strength or masculinity, credited to them. When psychological and emotional abuse becomes cyclical, as domestic violence is wont to be, men begin to believe that they deserve the abuse. Loss of self-esteem is one of the harshest effects of domestic violence – for both men and women.
Reasons, triggers, methods, and consequences vary for intimate partner abuse against men by women and against women by men. The common denominator, however, lies in motive. As in abuse of women, abuse of men is also about control. Domestic violence is about control of power – physical, emotional, psychological, and economic. Control that has gone crazy.
To gain that control, an abuser will manifest behavior that assuages his or her emotional torment that he or she is out of control. Some of these forms of behavior are screaming, verbal abuse, silence, withholding attention, affection, and sex, inflicting of physical pain, drinking, doing drugs, and other addictive behaviors. These bury the pain felt inside – for the moment.
Another common ground for abuse inflicted by both men and women is the phenomenon of the abuse cycle. Tension builds up – verbal attacks increase – violence explodes – the abused accuses the abuser – the abuser repents and asks for forgiveness – the abuser promises that the incident will never happen again – the abuser woos back the abused – the abused forgives the abuser – the two are back in each other’s arms – peace and quiet for a while – then tension builds up again – verbal attacks increase once more, and so on and so forth – in a cyclical mode. The cycle of abuse can be summarized into 5 phases: Tension – Explosion – Discussion – Honeymoon – Peace – then back to Tension.
The dynamics of domestic violence is the common denominator between abuses done on men by women and on women by men. The biggest difference, however, seems to lie in the preponderance of abuse. Maybe because there is more data on female victims and less on male victims that is why it is said that most victims of DV are women.
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) states that at least one out of every three women around the world is a victim of violence against women. She has been beaten, forced to have sex, emotionally and psychologically abused, and economically deprived in her lifetime. In all these forms of oppression, her abuser is most likely someone she knows – and oftentimes, she had trusted. Right now, what is known is that violence against women (VAW) is a problem of pandemic proportions.
What do you know? What do you believe?