Men are amazing allies
When we speak against domestic abuse and coercive control we are powerful. Men are listened to by our friends and colleagues. Recent research that we have carried out in the West of Ireland tells us that young women in particular think that it would be different to hear a lad speak out if he saw another lad treat a girl with disrespect. So, let’s speak out if we see toxic lad culture and tell our friends, family and colleagues that it’s not on. Silence allows violence to continue.
Men were once boys
Men were once boys. You may have witnessed domestic abuse and coercive control as a child. Growing up in a household with domestic abuse can have a traumatic impact that lasts a lifetime.
Studies show that in homes where there is intimate abuse and control, on average 40% of the children are also abused. Children may react differently to the abuse, 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 abuse and coercive control can have 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 abuse as a child, you can get help.
Men are also victims
While the majority of incidents of domestic and sexual abuse are carried out by men against women, men are also victims of abuse – by both men and women.
Men who are victims often suffer an added societal stigma because they are seen as weak if they come forward. Very often they are not believed. If you, or someone you know, are at risk of abuse from a male or female partner, there are specialist organisations to support you.
The overwhelming fact, globally and here in Ireland, is that the majority of perpetrators of violence are usually men and the victims are usually women and children.
The reason that coercive control is experienced overwhelmingly by women is because by its nature, it draws upon women’s subordinate position within wider society.
There’s no such thing as a typical abuser. But there is a typical pattern of abuse.
There is no such thing as a “typical” abuser.
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.
An abuser’s actions may vary but the eroding impact is the same.
Women who come to domestic abuse services often tell the same story. At first their romance is a whirlwind. Their new partners can’t buy enough presents or shower enough praise. There may be niggling doubts, but he brushes them aside. Then fear sets in. A woman realises that she has been groomed not courted. He loses his temper, lashes out but explains it away as a moment of madness. But the threat of violence never goes.
A woman loses contact with friends and family. She doesn’t do the things she used to. Mad things might begin to happen, like her phone might go missing or the car is moved. She becomes a victim to gaslighting. The abuse eats away at what matters most – her job or how she looks and dresses or how she is as a mother perhaps. She blames herself, loses confidence and often looks to change him, rather than seeing that it’s not her fault and it’s not her imagination.
It takes strength to admit that you are abusing your partner. But if you really want to change, you can. Help is available here.