The Male Victim

The vast majority of recorded incidents of domestic violence are of men on women. Society, although aware of the male victim, treats him as a joke. In reality he is a man in fear, a man in isolation, a man stigmatised as weak. Why? Because he does not conform to the stereotypical male image.

In law, a male victim faces two obstacles; firstly to prove he is a victim, and secondly, to ensure that his children are protected and do not become the new victims. Men very often remain in an abusive relationship for the sake and protection of their children.

Most men react by staying silent. Often this silence is encouraged by factors such as fear of ridicule and, the realisation that it is unlikely his partner will be evicted. Even when a man has proved he is the victim it seems his only course of action is to leave the home. He is then separated from his children and often experiences difficulty in obtaining realistic and regular contact with them. He is in fact treated as the perpetrator rather than the victim.

  • Male Victims come from all walks of life, social backgrounds and cultures.
  • Male Victims suffer society’s stigma for not protecting themselves.
  • Male Victims become depressed in their isolation, feel suicidal and sometimes take their own lives without disclosure.
  • Male Victims are victimised because they fail to conform to the Macho man stereotype.
  • Male Victims are perceived as wimps.
  • Male Victims are disbelieved because they are men.
  • Male Victims are refused the status of victim.
  • Male Victims are caring, sensitive men, good fathers and providers. They want help for the abuser not further abuse from society and the caring agencies.
  • Male Victims are removed from or asked to leave their homes because it is the easy option.
  • Male Victims have no support systems in place. They have no “listening ear”.

Fighting the Myths

Modern medicine is aware of certain conditions which may cause people to be violent but we expect such sufferers to seek help or medical treatment. Men are expected to take responsibility for violence and abuse but no excuses are accepted. Yet when a female is violent society provides a list of excuses: Post-natal depression, stress, PMT, eating disorders, personality disorders, menopause, addictions, childhood traumas, provocation, self-defence etc. Although most men will be sensitive to these problems, they should not have to suffer violence as a consequence.

When a woman is violent and abusive in a relationship, it is not necessarily assumed that she is a bad mother. If a man is violent towards his partner, it is automatically assumed that he is an unfit parent. The law presumes that the children are almost always better off with their mother. Consequently the only options for men seem to be to put up with the abuse or to leave the home, since under the law there is no real protection for them.

If a male victim seeks help, society should offer the same protection and help to him and his children as is given to female victims. Women should be judged by the same standards as men, and women who are violent should be held legally responsible for their actions.

How Men Cope

Men in abusive relationships employ various methods to attempt to diffuse potentially violent situations:

  • go into another room or lock themselves away in a safe place
  • leave the dwelling, go to family or friends
  • sleep in their car, shed, garage or wherever they can find shelter
  • promise to do whatever she asks or demands
  • accept responsibility for all sorts of untrue accusations
  • cover up for their violent partner.

These are all survival tactics but will not stop the attacks. However, most men will do anything in the vain hope of stopping the abuse. What they fail to do is record the incidents, injuries or pattern of events. They fail to tell any family members of the situation and make excuses for their injuries even vrhen they attend the hospital or the doctor. They fear the humiliation and stigma of disclosure even when the abuse is life-threatening.

How Society Reacts

If men attempt to report incidents of abuse they are met with blatant discrimination, disbelief, gender bias and comments such as the following:

“You must have done something terrible to her to deserve this!”
“Look at the size of you! Maybe she was just defending herself!”
“We can’t arrest her – what about the children?”


“Why don’t you just leave?”
“Give her time to calm down. ”

Society seems to want these men to go away because there is no simple solution to their plight and there are no support systems in place to deal with them.

What men should do

    • Always keep a record of dates and times of incidents.
    • Always report the violence to your doctor and to the Gardaí – ensure that they record your injuries and all the details of the assault.
    • Always seek medical attention for any injuries – do not cover up the true cause.
    • Always take legal advice.
    • Do tell your family and friends what is happening to you.
    • Do not be provoked into retaliating.

Victims Letters

...On a lot of occasions I nearly left her and my son. Bit I think your support gave me the courage to take another path...

...When I came through the doors of Amen I was a broken man, I could see no future or happiness or light at the end of the tunnel...
...I was in a bad way. I had no confidence and felt worthless, afraid to stay and most of all afraid to leave my children...
...He had a bad experience in the early days of their breakup with the social services. They immediately took her side and did not listen to his views...
...I cant understand why he didn't turn to me for help when he felt so low to commit suicide...
...On one occasion I was hospitalised when my wife hit me on the head from behind with an iron...
...I would beg her to stop, try to hug her to show her I loved her, she would kick me, beat me with shoes, the coal shovel...
...I feel totally alone...
I'm a 50 year old professional male and I'm also a battered husband...
...when ever she came home after drinking it would usually end up in a row and me being roughed up...
...If there are other men out there like me, all I can say is God help them...
...I had six weeks, this is what she gave me, six weeks to leave the house and to leave my two children...
...She became extremely jealous and she used say, I loved them more than I loved her...
...I went to the doctor and he sent me to hospital. This is a sad life...
...when I try to bring the matter up she says I drove her to do what she did and it was all my fault...
...I had no one to talk to about my situation...
...I know I will have access but that is not the same. I don't want to be a Saturday Dad...
...I haven't seen my two younger children since I left in August as my wife says it would only confuse them...
...I have encountered disbelief, amusement and a willingness from others to justify my wife's behaviour...