Women aren't the only victims of domestic violence. Understand the signs of domestic violence against men, and know how to get help.
Domestic violence — also known as intimate partner violence — occurs between people who are or have been in a close relationship. Domestic violence can take many forms, including emotional, sexual and physical abuse, stalking and threats of abuse. It can happen in heterosexual or same-sex relationships.
Abusive relationships always involve an imbalance of power and control. An abuser uses intimidating, hurtful words and behaviors to control his or her partner.
It might not be easy to recognize domestic violence against men. Early in the relationship, your partner might seem attentive, generous and protective in ways that later turn out to be controlling and frightening. Initially, the abuse might appear as isolated incidents. Your partner might apologize and promise not to abuse you again.
You might be experiencing domestic violence if your partner:
If you're gay, bisexual or transgender, you might also be experiencing domestic violence if you're in a relationship with someone who:
You may not be sure whether you're the victim or the abuser. It's common for survivors of domestic violence to act out verbally or physically against the abuser, yelling, pushing, or hitting him or her during conflicts. The abuser may use such incidents to manipulate you, describing them as proof that you are the abusive partner.
You may have developed unhealthy behaviors. Many survivors do. That doesn't mean you are at fault for the abuse.
If you're having trouble identifying what's happening, take a step back and look at larger patterns in your relationship. Then, review the signs of domestic violence. In an abusive relationship, the person who routinely uses these behaviors is the abuser. The person on the receiving end is being abused.
Even if you're still not sure, seek help. Intimate partner violence causes physical and emotional damage — no matter who is at fault.
Domestic violence affects children, even if no one is physically attacking them. If you have children, remember that being exposed to domestic violence makes them more likely to have developmental problems, psychiatric disorders, problems at school, aggressive behavior and low self-esteem. You might worry that seeking help could further endanger you and your children, or that it might break up your family. Fathers might fear that abusive partners will try to take their children away from them. However, getting help is the best way to protect your children — and yourself.
If you're in an abusive situation, you might recognize this pattern:
Typically the violence becomes more frequent and severe over time.
Domestic violence can leave you depressed and anxious, and can increase your risk of having a drug or alcohol problem. Because men are traditionally thought to be physically stronger than women, you might be less likely to report domestic violence in your heterosexual relationship due to embarrassment. You might also worry that people will minimize the importance of the abuse because you're a man. Similarly, a man being abused by another man might be reluctant to talk about the problem because of how it reflects on his masculinity or because it exposes his sexual orientation.
If you seek help, you also might find that there are fewer resources for male victims of domestic violence. Health care providers and other contacts might not think to ask if your injuries were caused by domestic violence, making it harder to open up about abuse. You might fear that if you talk to someone about the abuse, you'll be accused of wrongdoing yourself. Remember, though, if you're being abused, you aren't to blame — and help is available.
Start by telling someone about the abuse, whether it's a friend, relative, health care provider or other close contact. At first, you might find it hard to talk about the abuse. However, you'll also likely feel relief and receive much-needed support.
Leaving an abuser can be dangerous. Consider taking these precautions:
An abuser can use technology to monitor your telephone and online communication and to track your physical location. If you're concerned for your safety, seek help. To maintain your privacy:
In an emergency, call 911 — or your local emergency number or law enforcement agency. The following resources also can help:
Domestic violence against men can have devastating effects. Although you may not be able to stop your partner's abusive behavior, you can seek help. Remember, no one deserves to be abused.