How Common is Domestic Violence Against Men?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Statistics on domestic violence against men can be challenging to obtain, since the overwhelming majority of reported domestic violence incidents involve female victims. One survey produced by the American Bar Association suggests that 25% of all women and 7.6% of all men will experience at least one incidence of domestic violence in their lifetimes. Other surveys and studies claim that domestic violence against men only comprise 5-10% of all official domestic violence reports received. An estimated 15% of male homosexuals have reported at least one incidence of physical or sexual assault by a same-sex domestic partner. Legally speaking, domestic violence against men can also include physical assaults by non-related roommates, male siblings and male children who reside under the same roof.

An estimated 15% of men in homosexual relationships have been victims of domestic violence.
An estimated 15% of men in homosexual relationships have been victims of domestic violence.

Even using the most liberal estimates of domestic violence against men, it would be difficult to use the word "prevalent" to describe the situation. For a number of reasons, males continue to comprise the largest group of domestic abusers, especially against intimate partners. This is not to suggest that males cannot be physically or sexually abused by their partners, however.

Domestic violence may take place between homosexual partners.
Domestic violence may take place between homosexual partners.

A number of men do report incidents of physical abuse committed by an aggressive spouse or girlfriend during a domestic argument or altercation. Many times a physically stronger male will tolerate the abuse rather than escalate the incident or cause more serious physical harm in response. Other male victims are reluctant to defend themselves against a female assailant because they are too shocked or embarrassed to admit they have been overpowered by a woman.

Domestic violence against men is often under reported because the victim refuses to press formal charges against his female assailant. Some male victims would rather handle the issue privately without involving outside law enforcement or social service agencies. Once the incident becomes public knowledge, a male victim of domestic violence could face ridicule from other male co-workers or relatives, for instance.

In a culture where male machismo and masculinity is strongly valued, any suggestion of a male being too weak to fend off a female assailant could prove too difficult for a victim to face. A spouse or girlfriend may be emotional or mentally abusive, but the use of physical violence and intimidation during domestic incidents is almost always seen as a male's weapon of choice. Women may injure a man as a result of taking defensive measures, but they are rarely viewed by law enforcement officers as the instigators or aggressors.

In many domestic violence situations, the responding police officers are often required by law to arrest at least one of the combatants. Quite often the criteria for determining who gets arrested is the presence of physical injuries. In certain cases involving domestic violence against men, the female aggressor may actually have more physical injuries than the male victim. Therefore, it is possible that a certain number of men arrested for domestic violence may have actually been the victims during the actual assault.

Sometimes the officers will determine the incident involved mutual combat, but the male will still be removed from the home in order to restore order in the home. It is entirely plausible that incidents of domestic violence against men may be higher than raw statistics would suggest, but this would still suggest only 20% or so of all acts of domestic violence have been committed against men.

Most reported domestic violence incidents involve female victims, making statistics on male victims extremely difficult to obtain, as they are less likely to come forward.
Most reported domestic violence incidents involve female victims, making statistics on male victims extremely difficult to obtain, as they are less likely to come forward.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments

anon956942

Guy drinks beers. Gal drinks gin. She considers herself as the householder because she can, quote, "keep it together as a dialysis dependent better than my broke leg boyfriend." to wit, renting a 1 bedroom apartment at $250 versus the posted price of $790.

I find there is something abusive about the way my tax money is being used. The EEOO and HUD made section 8s too easy to be abusive, originally designed to 'help them recover from situations of dire straits'. When the arrangement becomes abusive, just to have a roof over one's head stinks.

Viranty

@RoyalSpyder - Yep, I've noticed this several times on Everybody Loves Raymond. Have you seen the episode where Debra has PMS? At the end, she get mad at Raymond, and pushes him against a bookcase. This causes the audience to cheer and laugh up a storm. My guess is the reason why men aren't allowed to do this woman (on sitcoms) is because they're a lot more "fragile" and vulnerable. After all, you've heard of the saying "never hit a girl", right? Well, that saying applies everywhere, even in fiction.

RoyalSpyder

In my opinion, the media creates an unrealistic portrayal of domestic abuse. When watching some of the sitcoms like The King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond, have you noticed that it's OK for the wife to hit the husband, but the husband can never do the same? It's always played for laughs when the husband is being abused. However, if it were the opposite way around, it would be a TV drama.

Chmander

Though the article doesn't state it, one of the reasons why women stay in an abusive relationship is because they feel that their partner loves them. As for people who aren't in the same position, they may wonder why the woman doesn't just walk out of the relationship. I've never been a victim of domestic violence, but one can assume that it's not that easy.

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