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Help for Battered Men

Domestic violence befalls mostly women, but men are victims, too.
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WebMD Feature

More than 830,000 men fall victim to domestic violence every year, which means every 37.8 seconds, somewhere in America a man is battered, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey. While more than 1.5 million women are also victims, everyone -- no matter their sex --deserves help.

"Domestic violence is not about size, gender, or strength," says Jan Brown, executive director and founder of the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men. "It's about abuse, control, and power, and getting out of dangerous situations and getting help, whether you are a woman being abused, or a man."

There are more than 4,000 domestic violence programs in the U.S., but Brown says very few actually offer the same services to men as they do women. So where can a man turn for support when he is being abused? Domestic violence experts offer advice for men who may be falling through the cracks.

Abuse Against Men

"Domestic violence against men is very similar to domestic violence against women," says Brown. "It can come in the form of physical abuse, emotional, verbal, or financial."

As with abuse against women, Brown explains that abuse against men can mean a partner or spouse will:

Withhold approval, appreciation, or affection as punishment

  • Criticize, name call, or shout
  • Take away your car keys or money
  • Regularly threaten to leave or to make you leave
  • Threaten to hurt you or a family member
  • Punish or deprive your children when angry at you
  • Threaten to kidnap the children if you leave
  • Abuse or hurt your pets
  • Harass you about affairs your spouse imagines you are having
  • Manipulate you with lies and contradictions
  • Destroy furniture, punch holes in walls, break appliances
  • Wield a gun/knife in a threatening way
  • Hit, kick, shove, punch, bite, spit, or throw things when upset

In one instance, Brown received a letter from a woman who said her brother was being abused by his wife, who would scratch him, throw things at him, point a gun at him, break his eyeglasses, and flush his medications down the toilet -- among other things.

"The sister said in her letter that her brother stitched a cut on his arm himself, with a thread and needle, because his wife had cut him and he didn't want to go to the hospital," says Brown. "Can you imagine being so embarrassed that your wife hits you that you do that?"

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