In today’s society, we have worked effortlessly to try and protect women and children from abusive relationships. There are programs like Domestic Violence Coalitions all over the country that serve to protect and shelter these folks from abuse. The government pours money into these support programs and passes legislation to increase punishment for abusers. Are these programs sexist?
In reading up to this point, it would be interesting to know how many people equated terms like spouse, abusive relationships, and abusers, with the male gender. So many times when reference is made to domestic violence it is assumed and even stated that the abuser is a male. Domestic violence shelters generally only talk about keeping abused women and children from further harm with very little if any reference to men being abused.
There was one case where a man and his children suffered years of verbal and physical abuse. The man was a rather large individual but had never been abusive. His wife continually voiced derogatory comments degrading him as a man, father, and husband. When disagreements occurred, quite often the woman became physically abusive and would hit, kick, and throw objects at the man. A knife and a gun were brandished at one time in front of the man and the children. One time in a fit of rage, the woman was throwing and breaking objects at the man and children. The man, in an effort to protect the children, restrained the woman in a chair. The woman yelled for one of the children to call the sheriff because Daddy was abusing her and the man told the child to go ahead and make the call.
Once authorities had arrived at the home and upon a close inspection of the scene including interviews, the woman was arrested for domestic violence. The woman never saw the inside of a jail cell since the man had posted bail before that could happen and a subsequent visit to a judge resulted in an order for the woman to seek counseling from the local domestic violence coalition. At this point in the story, the waters begin to get murky.
The woman follows the court mandated order for counseling, however, there was some interesting advice being given. Even though the man was the victim, the woman received the typical advice given to domestic violence victims, things like have an extra set of keys hidden, keep a bag packed and in the trunk of the car, and have a plan for escape in the event ‘he’ once again becomes abusive. Why would she need this kind of advice when she was the abuser?
In our quest to help women and children, it seems we have forgotten that men are not the only ones who can be abusive. It is time that we recognize the ability of any person, regardless of gender, can be an abuser. We need to stop classifying domestic violence as a mainly male dominated event. Domestic violence comes in many different forms and is quite easily exercised by members of both sexes. The effects are just as traumatic on a man as they are on a woman.
In the story of the couple above, the woman went through the counseling and all charges for domestic violence were dropped. The abuse continued for several years afterward. The man ‘toughed out’ those years to stay with his children long enough for them to leave the home due to a fear that if he left sooner, the children would be given to the woman to suffer the abuse alone. The man finally left the relationship and took several years to recover from the after-effects and is finally beginning to resume a more normal life.
Be a supporter of those programs that strive to prevent domestic violence against everyone.