There are simple and powerful things you can do to make Ireland the safest place for women and children. You can challenge the traditional images of manhood – of being macho. You can speak against domestic abuse. You can take time to listen and learn more about violence and abuse and the impact it has on women and children. You can be part of a culture shift that respects women and children as equals. You can take safe action if you suspect abuse or if you think a friend or relation needs help.
Men are allies
When we speak against domestic abuse we are powerful. Men are listened to by our friends and colleagues. We may say things in ways that women don’t. So, let’s speak out when we see or hear behaviour that we think is degrading, abusive or controlling. Silence allows violence to continue.
Men were once boys
Men were once boys. You may have witnessed domestic violence as a child. Growing up in a household with domestic violence can have a traumatic impact that lasts a lifetime.
Studies show that in homes where there is intimate violence, on average 40% of the children are also abused. Children may react differently to the violence, depending on their age, sex, frequency and extent of violence and the types of role models that surround them. Growing up in a household with domestic violence has significant impacts on a child’s developmental progress. Although children may have been removed from abusive situations the result of living with domestic abuse can have a lasting impact throughout the life cycle. (Buckley et al., 2006). Research has also indicated that in homes with severe physical abuse, sons are at more risk of child abuse than girls.
If you have experienced domestic violence as a child, you can get help.
Men are also Victims
While the majority of incidents of domestic and sexual violence are carried out by men against women, men are also victims of violence – by both men and women.
Men who are victims often suffer an added societal stigma because they are seen as weak. Very often they are not believed. If you are at risk of violence from a male or female partner. There are specialist organisations to support you.
The overwhelming fact is that the majority of perpetrators of violence are usually men and the victims are usually women and children.
There is no such thing as a “typical” perpetrator of domestic violence. However, researchers have found that men who abuse at home often use violence and emotional abuse to control their families. They often think that a “real” man should be tough and in control as head of the household. They believe that they are entitled to sex from their partners. They don’t take responsibility for their behaviour or think that loved ones or outside circumstances provoke their behaviour.
Men who abuse come from all types of backgrounds and social classes. Too often, men who abuse women can be stereotyped. Yes, some men who use violence have grown up in an abusive home themselves. Some come from disadvantaged backgrounds and some have problems with alcohol. However, this is by no means the case for all men who use violence.
It takes strength to admit that you are abusing your partner. But if you really want to change, you can. Help is available here.