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NEWS | July 12, 2017

Silent victims of domestic violence

By Brenda Edmond Joint Base Charleston Family Advocacy Outreach program manager

June was Men’s Health Month and a perfect time to highlight an important and sometimes overlooked issue. There is a general assumption that women are always the victims in an abusive relationship. Even in our progressive society, oftentimes we continue to marginalize, isolate and disbelieve the existence of domestic violence against men. The less-told story is a striking number of men are victims. These males suffer physical, mental and sexual abuse in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships.  According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four men will experience physical abuse by an intimate partner during their life time. That equates to approximately three million male victims of domestic violence every year. 

 

Men who find themselves victims of domestic violence are often viewed and made to feel emasculated and weak.  Men are told to fight back and are ridiculed for “accepting” or “allowing” the abuse. Many people don’t know how to approach the conversation of domestic violence. They fear adding insult to literal injury and others don’t believe a man can be a victim of domestic violence. The result is, males in relationships experiencing physical and emotional abuse do so in silence.  Admitting to being a recipient of abuse can be embarrassing for many men and may lead to feelings of loss of masculinity. 

There are several types of domestic violence including emotional, sexual and physical abuse and/or threats of abuse. It can happen in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Abusive relationships often involve an imbalance of power and control where an abuser uses intimidation, hurtful words and behaviors to control their partner.

Many times it’s not easy to recognize male victims. However, there are clear indicators where a relationship is abusive.  In the early stages of the relationship, the abusive partner may appear attentive, generous and protective in ways that later turn out to be controlling and scary. Initially, the abuse might seem to be isolated with the partner later apologizing and making promises the abuse will not occur again. However, after some time a pattern develops.  Some indicators you are in an abusive relationship with your partner include if he/she:

  • Calls you names, insults you or puts you down

  • Prevents you from going to work or school

  • Stops you from seeing family members or friends

  • Tries to control how you spend money, where you go or what you wear

  • Acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful

  • Threatens you with violence or a weapon

  • Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets

  • Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will

  • Blames you for her violent behavior or tells you that you deserve it

If you’re in a relationship with someone who is treating you like any of the examples above, you  should seek professional intervention. There are unrestricted or restricted reporting options. Unrestricted reports can be made if you want to pursue an official investigation. To initiate an unrestricted report, contact the service member's command, the Family Advocacy Program or law enforcement.  The victim will have access to victim advocacy services, medical care and counseling.  An unrestricted report also allows for command participation in supporting and protecting the receiver of abuse and provides the unit the option of taking administrative action against the offender.

A restricted report is an option for those who do not want to pursue an official investigation but would like to receive advocacy services, medical care and counseling. Restricted reports can only be made to Family Advocacy or to a military health care provider.  This reporting option allows individuals in abusive relationships time to think about the direction of their relationship and keep control over when, who and what they choose to share.  A restricted report also means law enforcement and the member’s command will not be notified of the abuse and there will be no investigation or administrative action taken against the offender. Reporting to anyone else could jeopardize the individual’s option for a restricted report. 

Help stop the cycle of domestic violence, if you know someone in an abusive relationship or you have identified yourself after reading this article, know there is no excuse for abuse. Being a victim of abuse is never okay and rarely ends without intervention. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, contact your FAP at 843-963-6972 (Air Base) or 843-794-4192 (Weapons Station).