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October 2017
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“Conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know”

A young man trying to protect himself with his bare hands Hard contrast, cold colors, soft focus

 

Today, I was abused again. I cannot tell anyone. My partner was hitting me so hard, I had to crouch on the floor and beg for it to stop. I am so ashamed. Why would someone do this to the person they love? Usually I try to hide and avoid everything. I tried to build my own space. An imaginary place where I am safe, where our relationship is still as colorful as it used to be. Nothing that I do satisfies the love of my life and everything seems to be my fault and the worst part is that I start to believe it. Is it my fault? Do I deserve it? I have tried to contact the police, but they did not believe me. Not even my family believes me. I tried to find a shelter, but there is none. I want to escape, but I cannot go anywhere. I cannot defend myself. I am trapped. I feel like I am falling. It is hard for me to admit, but I am a victim of domestic violence, and the the one who abuses me is my wife.

 

A report by the World Health Organization states that over 30% of woman are or have once been in a violent and abusive relationship. It is widely recognized as an unacceptable crime against women. However, contrary to common belief, one in three victims of family violence is male. According to the “One in Three” campaign, male victims of partner violence receive similar numbers and types of injuries than women. Also, men who have experienced partner violence are two to three times less likely than women to have never told anybody about it. But how come men do not talk about their abuse, although the intensity seems to be the same?

In his book, “What Men Don’t Tell Women about Business”, Christopher Flett claims that men do not exhibit their emotion, because in our society, men are raised to believe that it is weak to do so. It very much reflects my own experience growing up, as I was told that I should not cry, because I am a “big boy”. I should pull myself together, because I am a boy. Boys shall not hit girls, yet are laughed at if hit by them, instead of helped and supported. However, if girls hit men in public, they are usually cheered for. Men are taught from the earliest age that they should conceal their emotions. An enormous pressure lies upon men to hold up the image of “being manly” and therefore, the common belief sees mostly women in the role of the victim of domestic violence. Society teaches us that men are strong and women are weak. If a man becomes a victim, his hole male identity crumbles, which is the reason why men do not seek help as a women in the same position would do.

In a social experiment to raise awareness for domestic violence by Youtube pranksters “MoeandEt”, a women was shown being abused by a men in public. After that, the experiment is turned around and the women abuses the men in public. The results are shocking. While the women was the victim, several men stepped in and intervened, a few of them even physically, to stop the abuse. However, when the man was the victim, people around did not intervene. Quite the opposite. In a different video, where the men defends himself, he got attacked by passer-by’s. The victimized men was laughed. The experiment has shown the cultural perception on men and women in terms of domestic violence. Men seem unable to be seen as a victim, but the performers of violence, and if a man should physically defend himself, he faces more than just public embarrassment.

In 2014, Ray Rice, a former NFL basketball player was stripped off his contract and prosecuted for punching his wife in the face. However, the security video clearly shows his wife assaulting him twice before. Would it not be self-defense then? If we would turn the situation around, the women would be publicly cherished as a role model for women to stand up against domestic violence. For men, there is little or no support to escape domestic violence , although “domestic abuse against men is just as abhorrent as when a women is the victim”, so the Alex Neil, the housing and communities minister in the Scottish parliament.

Mark Brooks, the founder of the charity Mankind Initiative that seeks to help male victims of domestic violence, said that “it’s a scandal that domestic violence victims are not treated equally.” They also “reject the gendered analysis that the violence focuses on female victims”. In England and Wales for example, the number of women shelters in 2010 exceeded 7000, while male shelters stagnated at 60. The charity still receives little funding and no government support. Although fighting hard for the recognition of domestic violence against men, this year, the charity has run out of funding.

With the rising support for gender equality on a global scale, we should not forget that the essence of it is equal rights for both genders. If we want to discuss it, we need to consider both sides and not focus solely on either the male or the female side. In the case of domestic violence, it is important to understand that violence is a crime, no matter if performed by men or women and we should stand against it as a society. Instead of ostracizing men for showing emotions, we should acknowledge and respect it as a form of strength. Men should be allowed to show weakness and females should be allowed to show strength. After all, showing our emotions is what separates us from being an animal. Ironically, so is the urge to conceal our nature due to social constructs. Therefore, if you see a man expressing his emotions, one should give him equal support as a woman would get. In the end, you might save a life.

 

Picture taken from www.theocattorneys.com

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