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As a relationship coach, I primarily work with clients who have gone through narcissistic/emotional abuse and are looking to work on themselves and eventually get back into the dating game armed with new boundaries and self-worth.
However, it is impossible to ignore the trend I have seen since I started offering my services.
The truth is that the majority of my clients… are men.
They are professional, hard-working, empathetic men, who have gone through emotional/physical abuse usually with a partner who has NPD (narcissistic personality disorder).
Usually, we don’t think of men as capable of being abused. They are widely considered the abusers and women are the victims. That’s simply the way that it’s “always” been.
However, this isn’t the first time I’ve talked to men who are in a relationship that is toxic.
A few years ago, I had a friend that was dating a guy — let’s call him Tom. Tom was great. At the time, I thought my friend (we are no longer in touch) was great.
The two of them seemed like they should have been a match on paper, but they just completely clashed.
About a year into their relationship, we were out at a happy hour when my friend told me that she had punched Tom.
“We were fighting and I just hit him… oops.” She said with a shrug.
I was flabbergasted by the fact that she was so nonchalant about hitting her boyfriend.
“Did he hit you back?”
“Oh my god no, of course not!”
Imagine if the tables had been turned… if she had been the one that had been hit.
It would have been much more than a casual conversation at happy hour.
Here are some statistics I want to share with you from the NCADV.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence.
1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Are more women abused than men? According to the statistics, absolutely. And I most certainly believe that more are.
But the reality is that men are also victims of abuse and most of them never say a word.
Here are just some of the examples of the stigma brought on by toxic masculinity I’ve heard from men in our sessions.
I’m supposed to be the man, how could I tell my friends she locked me out of the house and made me sleep in the yard?
I’m a man, I couldn’t tell anyone she hit me.
I’m a man, I couldn’t say that her words hurt me.
As a man, I can’t tell you how much it hurt that she didn’t want to have another child with me because a younger man would be better.
I’m a man, I had to provide for my family.
I’m a man, I felt so horrible when she threatened to hire a jigalow.
I am a trauma and abuse survivor. I was a victim of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of several men. I was sexually assaulted by a man I considered a dear friend when I was only sixteen.
However, those experiences do not prevent me from speaking out for the men who are being abused.
In my life, I have been fortunate to know amazing men. Ones who are empathetic, loving, caring, and always putting others first.
I want to live in a world where men are able to express their emotions. I want to live in a world where they aren’t taught as little boys to be strong and silent, and that their feelings don’t matter.
I am an advocate for women but I am also speaking out for them because they deserve to have an advocate as well.
I am choosing to be an advocate for both.