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Understanding the Misconceptions and Realities of Male Victims of Domestic Violence

“Ninety-five percent of domestic violence is perpetrated by men.” If you have heard this before, you are not alone. Despite significant advances in research and changes in societal norms, many people still believe that domestic violence is a crime committed by husbands against their wives.

However, in reality, the numbers are starkly different. Dating back to 1998, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Report on the National Violence Against Women Survey has concluded that men comprise nearly 40 percent of all domestic violence victims in the United States. Likewise, domestic violence researchers Susan Steinmetz, Richard Gelles and Murray Straus – early advocates for battered women and authors of Behind Closed Doors: Violence in American Families – conducted two major studies for the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, both of which found similar rates of abuse between husbands and wives.

In addition, according to Phil Cook, author of Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence, while abused women suffer serious injuries more often than men, it is abused men who tend to suffer the most serious injuries. This correlates with the findings of researchers R.L. McNeeley and Coramae Richey Mann, which show that women compensate for their lesser physical strength by using weapons and taking advantage of the element of surprise.

Facing the Consequences as a Male Victim of Domestic Violence

Male victims of domestic violence committed by their female partners often face an agonizing choice. By doing nothing, they allow the abuse to continue, and quite possibly escalate. By attempting to defend themselves, they take the chance that someone will call the police and that they – and not their abusive female partner – will be arrested.

Similarly, by calling the police, male victims of domestic violence place themselves in danger of being arrested and prosecuted for confrontations initiated and carried out by female partners. Even allegations of domestic violence, if made public, can have severely damaging consequences. Going to court and being convicted, losing custody, or being forced to move out can turn a male victim’s life upside down. The result of all of this is that many, if not most, male victims of domestic violence victims choose not to report what has happened.

Facing the Consequences of False Allegations of Domestic Violence

As suggested, male victims of domestic violence who do report their abuse often end up facing allegations that they were the aggressor, or else that they left their female partners with no choice but to take action to defend themselves. This is only exacerbated by the fact that police officers responding to reports of domestic violence are often directed to focus on who appears to be more in control of the situation, and who appears to be more in fear for their personal safety. Given the physical strength disparity noted by researchers McNeeley and Mann, this misguided assessment often leads to the decision to arrest the male regardless of the true facts at hand.

Once a restraining order or finding of domestic violence is entered against a male heterosexual partner, it can be exceptionally difficult for him to have his side of the story heard. Absent the woman’s willingness to drop the matter and abandon the restraint, there is often little he can do. When women choose to drop restraints based on false or unjustified accusations, it can frequently be motivated by economic dependency or, in some cases, feelings of remorse. In either case, it is entirely up to the woman to make the call that will restore order in the male victim’s life.

Same-Sex and Familial Domestic Violence

Of course, while much of the discourse around domestic violence focuses on husbands and wives, same-sex couples and other family members face abuse issues as well. Domestic violence is not unique to heterosexual couples. However, even in these other contexts, male victims often face the same stigma and preconceptions discussed above.

Speak with Attorney Curtis Romanowski about Your Case

If you are a male victim of domestic abuse, attorney Curtis Romanowski can help you evaluate your options and develop a strategy for extricating yourself from your present circumstances. At Romanowski Law Offices, we understand what you are going through, and we have the experience you need to handle your situation with both the delicacy and conviction it requires. Let us help you put an end to the cycle of abuse.

We offer expert consultations and have offices conveniently located in both Monmouth and central New Jersey. To schedule a time to speak with Curtis, call (732) 603-8585 or contact us online today.