I’m a stand-up comedian. After hearing my stories, sometimes audience members tell me theirs.
I recently heard a horrific story of domestic violence (DV). A woman told me that her fiancé broke into her phone when she was sleeping. He found dirty pictures of another man, assumed she was cheating (she wasn’t; a guy was just sending her photos). He beat her mercilessly. He broke a chair over her head. Not some frangible Hollywood stunt chair. He hit her hard enough to break a chair over her head. He beat her so much he fractured her nose. Then dumped all her stuff in the street and threw her out.
She said it was her fault, that she deserved it. She’s still hoping he’ll take her back.
Of course, I said it’s 100 percent his fault, that he should be in jail.
And I know you’re thinking, “Shaun, don’t be naive, this stuff happens all the time, some men are violent monsters, how could you not know this? Do you not read the newspaper? Do you not own a television?”
Everything above is true, except for one thing: I reversed the genders. The woman found photos on her fiancé’s phone. She was the one who beat him.
And yes, months later he still believes that it was his fault, that he deserved it. He’s a former athlete and a successful business owner. He’s the victim, yet he continues to say it’s his fault.
Men are also victims of domestic assault. This will surprise you. It surprised me: More than a third of domestic violence victims are men. Yes, more than a third. The Center for Disease Control reports 74.7 million Americans have been the victim of physical violence, rape or stalking. Among those people, 42.4 million were women (57 percent) and 32.3 million were men (43 percent). In the United Kingdom, the British Crime Survey show that men made up about 40 percent of domestic violence victims each year between 2004-05 and 2008-09, reports The Guardian.
Here are some statistics from the American National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. But keep in mind that men are less likely to report/admit abuse than women:
Lifetime experience of abuse:
Physical Violence against women: 1 in 3
Physical Violence against men: 1 in 4
Extreme PV against women: 1 in 5
Extreme PV against men: 1 in 7
Yet there are virtually no DV support programs for male victims. Unless you live in a very major city, good luck finding a shelter that will accept a male victim. In Canada, the only shelter for abused men closed in 2013 due to a lack of funding.
Male DV victims get little sympathy- “Why didn’t you just hit back?” Because one little bruise on the woman, even if the man has broken bones all over and a baseball bat has only her fingerprints on it, who do you think is going to jail?
Men are much more reluctant to report abuse or seek help. And when they do, you know in the back of everybody’s mind is still: “What a wimp- why’d you let that happen?”
Abusers come in all shapes and sizes and at least two genders.
Everywhere. Absolutely everywhere.
Except in the media.