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Male Victims of Intimate Partner Violence Essay

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Updated: Feb 8th, 2022

The problem of intimate partner violence is one of the most acute issues of our time. The recognition of the frequency of abuse, as well as its devastating impact on both individual and family well-being, is one of the key points in addressing this issue. The majority of specialists dealing with the problem of domestic violence agree that ill-treatment between loved ones is caused by a set of factors, among which it is difficult to distinguish the dominant one. These include: the socio-economic status of the aggressor and victim, experiencing and observing violence during childhood, alcohol abuse in the family, low self-esteem of family members, and verbal aggression. Consequently, the emergence of crisis situations is influenced by both objective reasons and individual personality traits. Often the community accepts the notion that domestic violence is exceptional only as violence against women, without taking into account the full range of empirical evidence available from research. However, men become victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) almost as often as women.

According to numerous researchers, domestic violence is not confined to marginalized groups of the population. It has been shown that violence is more common in families of drug addicts or alcohol abusers (Dim and Elabor-Idemudia, 2017, p. 5). However, even in the wealthiest segments of society, domestic violence is not uncommon. The process of interaction between family members, the ability to overcome conflicts and disagreements at early stages by means of mutual concessions displays of tolerance towards each other play an important role as well.

Discussion

Despite the broad scope of existing research on the issue, the problem of domestic violence has been distorted and politicized. For example, most of the reports on domestic violence refer exclusively to women and children as victims of abuse (Dim and Elabor-Idemudia, 2017, p. 4). The reports are keeping silent about the possible negative consequences for men and tabooing the very fact that a situation where a victim is a man is likely to arise.

Current Situation

Psychological pressure, such as systematic pressure from the wife, is not assessed as violence at all, but as a daily occurrence. As Dim and Elabor-Idemudia (2017) pointed out, “proving the experience of psychological violence may be relatively difficult for the victim, unlike physical and sexual violence” (p. 2). However, it should be noted that the studies show minimal differences in psychological abuse between men and women (Dim and Elabor-Idemudia, 2017, p. 5). Considerable damage can be caused to another person so subtly that even the victim does not realize it. Defamation, gossip, rumors, and conspiracies can be as destructive as direct verbal or physical attacks. Such cases are now formally known in psychological circles as indirect aggression, and their patterns are traced as thoroughly as direct violence of various kinds (physical, psychological, sexual).

As a result of this analysis, the factors of indirect aggression are no longer associated exclusively with men. A similar approach is common to financial coercion as well. If a woman is obliged to report on her spending, she is limited in her choice of employment and is deprived of the opportunity to pursue a career, and it is undoubtedly violence. As soon as the matter is about a man – such means are justified by the need for rational planning of income and distribution of funds, management of the family budget.

Some women call the police because there is a real need for intervention, without which the situation can only escalate. However, there are cases where a woman claims to be a man as a criminal, regardless of whether he has committed violence or not. According to Jennings et al. (2017), females report a higher prevalence of victimization compared to males (p. 16). In addition, women are particularly encouraged by the local community to report violence by their husbands immediately. Most social services treat domestic violence as an increasingly visible social and legal problem, where women experience violence and abuse by partners. Consequently, domestic violence acts exclusively as an abuse of women (their psychological, physical, sexual, and economic freedom).

The current approach hinders the planning and implementation of sound programs to prevent and overcome family violence, develop effective intervention practices, and work with perpetrators and victims of both sexes to overcome the crisis together. Last but not least, the media also have a role to play, with a particular focus on crisis situations and women victims who are deprived of their lives. In this regard, it is often assumed that men are predominant perpetrators (Dim and Elabor-Idemudia, 2017, p. 4). Social services have a role to play in building a one-sided understanding of the problem of abuse in the family. They are designed to provide assistance and support, to ensure and guarantee the protection of the victim from the perpetrator. However, in many cases, the examination of specific situations is biased towards women being victims. There may be situations where women make knowingly false statements to law enforcement agencies, as there may be legal or financial or reward for creating a false message.

The Reasons for the Issue

Such a distorted analysis of the problem of domestic violence has a number of reasons. A man tries to use more severe forms of aggression than his partner and causes her more physical harm. Consequently, the focus of research on domestic violence is on risk factors that contribute to the formation and development of aggression by men against their family members, and the prevention of male violence. Researchers note that “most programs focus on male perpetrators and female victims and lack specific interventions for male victims of IPV or bidirectional IPV in which men are both victims and perpetrators” (Godbout et al., 2017, p. 9).

Furthermore, even when both men and women are evaluated as subjects of violence, information on such incidents is usually collected on the basis of the analysis of only the aggressive behavior of a man. However, it is important to note that women often show aggression equally with their partners. At the same time, this information is obtained from the reports of the women themselves, which contributes to a one-sided examination of the situation of violence. It is also assumed that women’s intimate partner violence appears and progresses only as a reaction to violence from her partner/partner/husband, and thus, in fact, is self-defense. At the same time, self-defense exceeds the number of cases when violence acts as retribution for the past aggression against oneself or as purposeful infliction of harm to the partner. It is typical of situations in which the man is in a helpless state, for example, alcohol intoxication.

It should also be noted that the lack of research on women’s violence may also be due to prevailing cultural norms that attribute women to the role of caretaker of the family home. As a result, the woman is a priori unable to show any form of aggression. According to Wathen, MacGregor, and MacQuarrie (2015), there is widespread workplace violence against both women and men. There are other reasons that contribute to the misunderstanding of researchers, relevant specialists, and the public about the problem of abuse in the family. For example, men usually do not report incidents of violence by their wives/partners to law enforcement agencies. Thureau et al. (2015) believe, that “it seems that a manly attitude is not compatible with the process to consult after physical injuries performed by women” (p. 2).

Children, in most cases, refuse to testify against their mothers, who are prone to violence and aggression. Besides, “children’s exposure to IPV is a prevalent form of child maltreatment that is associated with significant, deleterious health outcomes” (McTavish et al., 2016, p. 11). As Ali, Dhingra, and McGarry (2016) note, “there is still a need to explore and compare the use and motives of violence by men and women” (p. 7). Women are much more likely to turn to law enforcement agencies with accusations of violence against their partners.

Conclusion

In understanding domestic violence, it is essential to avoid the general misunderstanding that violence against a man is exclusively referred to as conflict, as traditions do not allow a man to be a victim. However, it is very clear that men can be victims of intimate partner violence. When comprehensively analyzing domestic violence, it is essential to recognize that women are capable of violence. As a result, there is a need for educational programs at the national level that show the accurate picture and help to overcome the abuse of all members of the family. Training of men in non-violent forms of behavior takes place in the practice of social services. However, there is no training for female aggressors, which requires the development of appropriate educational programs within the framework of social services.

References

Ali, P. A., Dhingra, K., & McGarry, J. (2016). A literature review of intimate partner violence and its classifications. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 31, 16–25.

Dim, E. E., & Elabor-Idemudia, P. (2017). Prevalence and predictors of psychological violence against male victims in intimate relationships in Canada. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 1-21.

Godbout, N., Vaillancourt-Morel, M.-P., Bigras, N., Briere, J., Hébert, M., Runtz, M., & Sabourin, S. (2017). Intimate partner violence in male survivors of child maltreatment: A meta-analysis. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 20(1), 99-113.

Jennings, W. G., Okeem, C., Piquero, A. R., Sellers, C. S., Theobald, D., & Farrington, D. P. (2017). Dating and intimate partner violence among young persons ages 15–30: Evidence from a systematic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 33, 107–125.

McTavish, J. R., MacGregor, J. C. D., Wathen, C. N., & MacMillan, H. L. (2016). Children’s exposure to intimate partner violence: An overview. International Review of Psychiatry, 28(5), 504–518.

Thureau, S., Le Blanc-Louvry, I., Thureau, S., Gricourt, C., & Proust, B. (2015). Conjugal violence: A comparison of violence against men by women and women by men. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 31, 42–46.

Wathen, C. N., MacGregor, J. C. D., & MacQuarrie, B. J. (2015). The impact of domestic violence in the workplace. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57(7), e65-e71.

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