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Understanding domestic violence perpetrated against men

IN domestic violence, women are often perceived to be the victims and men as the perpetrators, however, men victims continue to suffer in silence from their intimate partners.

Women who experience domestic violence are openly encouraged to report it to the authorities, while men who experience such violence often encounter pressure against reporting, with those that face social stigma regarding their perceived lack of machismo and other condemnations of their masculinity.

Additionally, intimate partner violence (IPV) against men is generally less recognised by society, which can act further to block men from reporting their situation.

The tragedy is that men who find themselves in this situation hide and do not talk openly about their experience, as talking about it will bruise their ego and expose them to ridicule in a masculine society. Hence such men prefer to suffer in silence until it becomes critical to the point of even death.

Note that domestic violence against men is a term describing violence that is committed against a man by his intimate partner, Even though there have been so many hues and cries about domestic violence against women across the globe, domestic violence against men is a reality and it occurs virtually in every society in varying degrees.

Naturally, men are stronger than women, but that does not necessarily make it easier for them to have their way all the time thus undergoing abuse more often than we might think.

The problem is that a man who suffers domestic violence is first of all assumed to be the aggressor even if he has bruises all over him and is rarely given a listening ear.

Various advocacy and sensitisation programmes favour women victims, thereby leaving the men victims to suffer in silence. There is great similarity between female and male victims and their abusers.

The biggest difference is that male victims find themselves in the same position women were years back and their problem is viewed as of little consequence, or they are to blame even if they have been violated.

Although it is well acknowledged that the majority of victims of injury-related violence are women, the prevalence rate for the use of physical aggression in relationships is approximately equal for both men and women. Women are more likely than men to use physical aggression when in conflict with their partner, but they are also more likely to be injured by partners.

Determining the rate of intimate partner violence against males can be difficult, as men are often more reluctant than women to report their abuse or seek help. One of the reasons for this is that male victims are often judged harshly for "allowing" themselves to be beaten by a woman.

This view is based upon the general rule that men are physically stronger than women, and, therefore, should be able to prevent any kind of female violence; a view which disregards that violent women tend to use objects during violence at a higher rate than men.

The under-reporting of domestic violence against men is almost universal and may be due to the sensitive nature of the subject. Husband punching, slapping, kicking, nail scratching, sex deprivation and killing are realities that occur in our current community.

Domestic violence against men has been on steady increase in our country and its progressing to severe dimension. You may not be sure whether you're the victim or the abuser. It's common for survivors of domestic violence to act out verbally or physically against the abuser, yelling, pushing, or hitting him during conflicts.

The abuser may use such incidents to manipulate you, describing them as proof that you are the abusive partner. You may have developed unhealthy behaviours since many survivors do. That doesn't mean you are at fault for the abuse.

If you're having trouble identifying what's happening, take a step back and look at larger patterns in your relationship. Then, review the signs of domestic violence. In an abusive relationship, the person who routinely uses these behaviours is the abuser.

The person on the receiving end is being abused. Even if you're still not sure, seek help. Intimate partner violence causes physical and emotional damage no matter who is at fault. Domestic violence also affects children, even if no one is physically attacking them.

If you have children, remember that being exposed to domestic violence makes them more likely to have developmental problems, psychiatric disorders, problems at school, aggressive behaviour and low self-esteem. Fathers might fear that abusive partners will try to take their children away from them.

However, getting help is the best way to protect your children and yourself. If you seek help, you also might find that there are fewer resources for male victims of domestic violence. Health care providers and other contacts might not think to ask if your injuries were caused by domestic violence, making it harder to open up about abuse.

You might fear that if you talk to someone about the abuse, you'll be accused of wrongdoing yourself. Remember, though, if you're being abused, you aren't to blame and help is available. Start by telling someone about the abuse, whether it's a friend, relative, health care provider or other close contact.

At first, you might find it hard to talk about the abuse. However, you'll also likely feel relief and receive much-needed support. Note that domestic violence against men can have devastating effects. Although you may not be able to stop your partner's abusive behaviour, you can seek help. Remember, no one deserves to be abused.

● The Author, Racheal Masibo, is an Assistant Lecturer at St John’s University of Tanzania (SJUT)-School of Nursing, P.O BOX 47 Dodoma Tanzania. Email: rackelmasibo@yahoo.com Mobile: 0717513598

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