Reading Time: 3 minutes

There are many common assumptions when it comes to intimate partner violence. One of these assumptions is that of differences in physical stature, mainly, that men are generally bigger and stronger than women and hence, men would have the ability to leave without being restrained or they would be at least able to defend themselves. Such assumptions can influence our perspectives on domestic and physical violence and it can be seen as trivial, humorous or even annoying when men become victims.

These violent acts can in fact induce fear in many men, and are also not viewed as being trivial, humorous or annoying but can in fact cause significant distress. Not all men also hit back, due to moral obligations or simply because they physically cannot do so either because they’re asleep during the time of the assault, or it was so serious that the individual had to be hospitalized.

Research has also demonstrated how men tend to focus a lot on barriers related to leaving a relationship such as commitment to marriage, lack of resources and also concern for children. There are barriers as well to seeking social support such as ingrained ideas of men using intimate partner violence to maintain dominance, and hence authorities thinking that the reported case is in fact the male being the ‘real perpetrator’

What are the consequences on the man of such behaviour? There is the risk for serious physical injury if things are allowed to escalate as well as psychological damage such as anger, shame and fear because of their partner’s violence. There are also many psychological and behavioural symptoms such as depressive symptoms and distress.

If you feel hindered or find it hard to open up about these issues here are some important things to know about your counsellor:

  1. A counsellor is placing your needs ahead of theirs. Through a lot of training and therapy, counsellors typically are aware of the problems that affect the therapeutic process and they always keep their own needs in perspective whilst placing yours as their number one priority.
  2. A counsellor will help you identify the problem, help you become aware of the dynamics taking place within your relationship, and will also help you evaluate your rights. All of this is done whilst being non-judgemental.
  3. Your counsellor is also mandatorily obligated to not disclose any information regarding your sessions. This creates the safe space needed for the therapeutic process to work and it also facilitates further trust between you and your counsellor. There are a few exceptions to this which are: underage abuse, need for hospitalization, court action or at the client’s request to be released to a third party.

There are many support units also for victims of violence but there is no sheltered service yet for men that have experienced domestic violence. Some organizations one can contact are Agenzija Appogg, Victim Support Malta or any other counselling service.

 

References

 

Corey, G. (2017). Theory and Practice of counselling and psychotherapy. Boston: Cengage learning.

Follingstad, D. R., Wright, S., Lloyd, S., & Sebastian, J. A. (1991). Sex differences in motivations and effect in dating violence. Family relations , 51-57.

Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2010). A closer look at men who sustain intimate terrorism by Women. Partner Abuse , 286-312.

Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2009). Women’s use of intimate partner violence against men: Prevalence, implications and consequences. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma , 572-586.

Men, A. (2009). The hidden side of domestic violence: Second eddition. Westport: Praeger Publishers.

Simonelli, C. J., & Ingram, K. M. (1998). Psychological distress among men experiencing physical and emotional abuse in heterosexual dating relationships. Journal of interpersonal violence , 667-681.

Neville Bonaci is a student of psychology currently in his second year in a bachelor’s course. He is also working as a childminder with Willingness. Neville aspires to be both a clinical psychologist and an academic.