Note: Parts of this story are an amalgam of different stories and not a telling of my own experience with my own relationship. This information is based on the first-hand experience of men who confided in me and allowed me to try to explain this issue in a way that others could understand.
He had been walking on eggshells because he knew when her mood changed as it had, she would lose her temper and start hitting and slapping him. It was only a matter of time. He could see the misery in her face and knew she was itching to spread it around.
She wanted everyone else to feel the pain she was experiencing. She had already spent the morning nagging him about every little thing and calling him every hurtful name she knew.
Loser. Lazy. Stupid. Moron. Pussy.
He knew it was his fault she was like this. He didn’t do enough around the house and slept an extra half-hour today. He knew he was a worthless husband; she told him so many times.
She was on one of her tirades, waiting for him to talk back. And he would talk back, even just getting out the word “but” before she was on him punching, slapping, and kicking. He would take it without fighting back. He wouldn’t even try to defend himself. Because if she had a mark on her, she would call the police and tell them that he had abused her. She’d threatened him with the same scenario many times before.
She would threaten to kick him out to the street with no money. She would try to break his phone. She would leave him with no hope and no other choice to take what she gives him. There was nothing he could do.
“No one will believe you!”
Maybe later, when the dust clears, he will finally do himself a favor by ending his life.
Maybe today he finally would.
Men Are Abused All the Time
Men are victims every day; most times, the abuse from a male or female partner is not reported.
Look at what we see in the media. As soon as a battered man makes accusations, everyone is quick to say, “Oh, but look how much bigger and stronger he is. How could she have hurt him?”
Then there is the gaslighting. “It’s your fault. Look what you made me do!” “You shouldn’t have made me mad, you know I have a bad temper!” Most start to question whether they aren’t the real abuser, even though they are clearly the victim. When this happens often, they start to believe it is all their fault and they are always in the wrong.
Researchers Alyson Huntley and colleagues at the University of Bristol say that the abused men they interviewed worried no one would believe them if they were to open up about abuse, or they would be perceived as less virile or masculine.
From my own experience with toxic masculinity, I know many men would feel ashamed to admit they are afraid of their abuser, and they choose not to disclose the abuse to anyone because they know people would call them a “pussy” or a “wimp”
“The issue of masculinity is a societal one — men are not expected to be the weak ones. It is a hard stereotype to work against,” Huntley told Reuters.
Men who are the victim of abuse feel worthless and weak, and many times think suicide is a better answer to the problem than coming clean with the truth. Finally, the men may truly love their abuser and don’t want anything bad to happen to them or don’t want others to think negatively of them, which they would if he exposed the truth.
It is always a difficult situation.
She never says she is sorry, even though he wears his shame for everyone to see. He almost wishes she would hit him harder because then he would bruise, and someone would ask about it. He wouldn’t have to be the one to make a fuss; someone else would do it for him. But she never leaves a mark. The redness always goes away after a few hours even if the soreness doesn’t.
Even if the shame is always there.
He is the one who always forgives because if he shows he is upset or depressed for too long, she will get angry, and it all will start over again. He always gives in, for his own sake.
It Shouldn’t Only Be the Celebrities
It’s only when we see celebrity cases like Johnny Depp and Amber Heard that we realize how terrible it is for anyone to be the victim of abuse. It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter unless it happens to someone we admire.
But, in the case of Depp and Heard, there were allegations of abuse on both sides, which aren’t yet proven. It may be that both parties were abusive, and both have the blame in this relationship. Many marriages are toxic because both parties try to prove that the other is in the wrong when they both are.
Could that be the case here? It could be, but we will never know because this is a legal matter, and the truth may never come out to the public.
He knows people would scoff if he told the truth. How could someone a fraction of your size be the abuser? And she is so nice! He says all the time what a great wife and mother she is.
But that is all part of it. He is afraid for anyone to know there is trouble in paradise because she would do whatever she had to do to make his life miserable. She would kick him out without money and a place to go. She wouldn’t let him see the kids. The police would question him about abusing her, even if it never happened, and he is afraid.
That is how she wants it.
She is a narcissist, but he can’t do anything about it because he would lose everything and everyone he loves. She would see to that.
How Many Men?
- In 2019, on average, almost 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S., and “1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.” — National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- In the U.K., according to research by the ManKind Initiative, 15% of men aged 16 to 59 have experienced domestic abuse in their life.
The problem is bigger than most people think.
How to Get Help
The way a victim can get help is the only thing most men won’t do: they have to reach out for help. It goes against everything they were brought up to believe about being a man, and it threatens the life they love because the abuser will most likely lash out. They will verbally attack, physically hurt, destroy property, and lie to make the abused look like he is lying, or worse, trying to cover up the abuse of the other partner.
Even if none of that happens, he still may be reluctant to say anything because he loves her/him and doesn’t want to hurt them no matter what they have done. She may be the mother to his children or may be his source of strength through the hard times.
How could he betray them by telling the truth?
But, no matter how difficult it is, there are things he must do, like:
- Reach out
- Leave, if possible
- Never retaliate
- Get evidence of the abuse and keep in on a mobile phone.
- Get advice from a domestic violence program.
As much as it hurts, the abuse must end, for the sake of himself and/or his children. He needs to be brave and do what he has to do to make the abuse stop.
There is no shame in exposing the truth.
He knows what he needs to do, but he wishes it were a simpler solution. He wishes she would stop, and instead of hurting, show him the love he knows she holds for him. But, he has tried to get her to change, and she never does.
He needs to ask someone for help and start figuring a way out of this mess. He needs to show some courage and self-respect and stop hoping she will change one day.
Then again, he hopes that maybe if he cries, she will stop hitting him.