When we think of abuse or domestic violence, we don’t often hear or think about the husband being the victim. It’s usually the wife who is the reported sufferer.
Yet more and more it’s coming out into the light many husbands are victims of spousal abuse as well. Not as many as women, true, but it still happens.
So why don’t we hear about husbands being abused by their wives? David L Fontes, Psy D, in the article titled, Men Don’t Tell gives insight into several reasons.
He writes: “When a man is a victim of his wife’s physical abuse he is both shamed by the assaults of his wife and shamed by society for not ‘controlling’ her better. Today, men are not made to ride backward on donkeys, but they are still considered ‘wimps’ for letting their wives beat them or for complaining about their wives’ attacks. For many men ‘Taking it like a man’ means don’t complain and don’t show you are vulnerable or in pain!
“With the prospect of being viewed as ‘wimps’ and/or having the assaults by their wives not believed or minimised by the general public and law enforcement, it’s no wonder few men report their abuse or discuss it openly.”
It’s difficult for men to report their abuse and find help — especially in the Christian community. Marriage Missions claims to have received a number of letters from husbands dealing with their wives abusive and sometimes very violent behaviour.
They write that they wanted to be honourable men and would not hit or abuse back, but they did not know what to do to stop their wives from hurting them in these ways.
Does that mean that it’s less important to minister to the hurting husband as it is to the hurting wife, even though the numbers are less?
Should a husband just accept and silently suffer from abusive behaviour, if it is directed at him from his wife? No. Abuse is still wrong no matter who is the one who is victimising the other.
Maxine Marz wrote an article titled, Husband Abuse Erodes Dignity (Metronews.ca, August 31 2004), and she had the following to say on this subject:
“While it is true that most physical assaults caused by women tend to be less severe when compared to a man’s physical assault on a woman with his fist or a weapon, the abusive woman’s slaps, bites, kicks and/or pulling of her partner’s hair are nevertheless still very hurtful because, in addition to subjecting physical pain, they attack the man’s dignity and erode his sense of self-worth. Many men also encounter emotional abuse when their abusive spouse turns to using their children to assert her control over them and their relationship.
“To add insult to injury, some abusive women not only victimise their spouses by abusing them verbally, emotionally, financially and/or physically, but they also attempt to manipulate the criminal justice system in their favour and against their partner. This unconscionable attempt of some abusive women not only revictimises their already abused husbands by denying them equal rights and fair protection under the law, but it simultaneously devalues and undermines the admirable progress women’s groups have achieved over the years in trying to protect the rights of legitimately abused wives and their children in the criminal courts.
“It is evident our society has made positive strides over the years to bring needed attention to domestic abuse and to better protect women from their abusive husbands or partners.
Unfortunately, based on what many abused husbands currently experience, we still have a long way to go to afford them with similar protection of their safety and security and to eliminate the current gender bias in our system that revictimises them all over again when they step into the legal arena.”