Many a time, when canvassing the topic of domestic violence, it is with the aim of ensuring protection for women and children from abuse. As a society, we have failed to accord men the same sense of protection, which is baffling and embarrassing.
It is understood that society has limited many of the interactions that go on in our daily lives with the different set factions. Men are to be the heads of the family, always be strong, and show no emotions for instance crying in public. We have ended up raising unempowered sons who have gone on to be fathers and who in turn teach their sons the same things.
Men are embarrassed to admit they are being abused in their relationships since they are regarded as the strong pillars of society. It gets worse because those who dare to speak out are not believed.
In fact, when a man is soft-spoken or emotional, he is automatically labelled as gay instead of being recognized for his amazing traits. However, when a woman reports abuse, it goes without saying that they are immediately believed, even if they are the perpetrators of the abusive acts. This has been a continual problem that needs to be dealt with adequately. Historically, women have suffered for a long time before any of their needs were considered important. They were resigned to having children and taking care of the household, mostly because they were trained from birth to take what they were given including emotional, physical and verbal abuse.
Liberation movements such as feminism are rising to ensure there is equality and this protects women and children from any form of aggression. In turn, more people have been speaking out on gender-based violence focusing on women and children while completely silencing the plight of many men in the same predicament.
I once heard a story of a man who had petitioned for divorce. When he attended court on the day of the hearing, he testified that his wife had been physically violent and broken his index finger. The student telling this story was laughing as he was telling it. His exact words were, “most of us in court were hiding our laughter because, I mean, how can a grown man say he was being beaten up to this extent?” There was no point in anyone thinking, “hey, he is such a gentleman who did not believe in violence”. The sad reality is that no compassion was afforded to him. He acquired the label of being weak and did not deserve to call himself a man; most people in court did not believe him.
Statistics indicate that men would rather go through depression which can lead to abuse of drugs or suicide. A conversation about the root cause of their problems rarely happens. For the past 3 years, there has been a pronounced increase in reported cases of domestic violence occurring with the victims being men. This is because there are tailor-made helplines to assist them. It is unclear whether these avenues are foolproof to bridge the gap created by the focus ideally having been on one gender. However, with more men speaking out there is no doubt they will receive adequate assistance.
WHAT TO DO:
If you are a man going through any form of gender-based violence or any other forms of manipulation in your relationship, I would advise that you try out the following to get on your healing journey.
- Accept that you are in an unhealthy relationship.
Acceptance is usually the first step in any healing journey. In doing so, you take stock of your life and realize that you need to walk away from a toxic environment. This might be an elating time in life when you realize you are leaving behind the Stockholm syndrome: which would essentially take the form of you always defending your partner’s violent actions to everyone instead of calling her out.
- Be brave.
Harness your courage and take a leap of faith making good use of the available helplines. Several people believe you and are ready to work with you to start healing. Most men are embarrassed to admit that they are in unhealthy relationships, especially those where physical abuse occurs since they will be considered weak. Here is a reminder that being who you are is a gift and you are stronger than you think. Dust off the dirt on your shoulders, stand tall and keep your head up.
- Seek therapy
Remember the old adage that only women or children seek therapy? Well, that tissue of lies no longer holds any water. Once you are out of the toxic situation, actively seek therapy, as it will help you immensely during this period. A problem shared is half solved, and in this case, the person you share it with is a professional so confidentiality is guaranteed.
- Do not reach out to your old partner.
Unlike any other breakup in which one seeks closure, once you walk out, you must RUN. Your partner was an abusive person who literally needed to seek help for themselves.
Do not create room that allows you to be sucked back in. It will be a difficult journey to unlearn that what you went through was not love in any way. It will take time, so be patient with yourself because leaving is the hardest part and you already did that. Continue seeking help.
- Support groups
There are many institutions that offer support groups for victims of gender-based violence. This information can be found at your therapist sessions or online through the click of one button. Take the chance and attend as many meetings as possible. Just like AA meetings, these will give you purpose and strength to keep on fighting for yourself. Another set of support groups are friends and family. Seek out a shoulder to lean on from this group of people; they will always have your back. If in any case, they are not supportive, do not lose hope. There are other forms of support systems out there for you. Do not hesitate to reach out.
It is important to note that healing is an individual and personal journey and no one form of treatment fits all. Choose what works for you.
Gender-based violence among men is real and you are not alone; you are noticed. you are heard. you are loved.
You are not a victim. Your experiences create life lessons that make you better not bitter.
Byron Katie says; “Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late.” Hope this helps you conquer your doubts and believe more in yourself.
By: Brenda Amondi Agola