Society leads us to believe that spousal abuse is something that happens only to women. Unfortunately, it happens to men as well, they’re just not talking about it.
Men are supposed to be strong, and women are supposed to be weak. We’ve been fed that line for generations. As a way to assert their power, men often abuse women. However, women are abusing men too; it’s just not getting the same media attention. The stigma men face over this issue keeps them from speaking out.
I am personally aware of two female-abuser relationships among people I know. One is strictly psychological; the other has repeatedly escalated to physical attacks. It is just as shocking and disturbing, if not more so, to know that this is happening to a man instead of a woman. Unfortunately, until we can convince men that it’s okay to speak up about it, they will continue to suffer in silence.
Abuse by women does not always involve the level of physical violence that men commit. Women frequently choose psychological abuse and control, but may also exhibit physically violent behavior when “provoked”. Men will often suffer the abuse far longer than a woman due to the fact that their lives are not in such extreme danger.
Female abusers typically exhibit dominant and possessive behavior. The man is not allowed to go anywhere without her, she bosses him around, and she will often be jealous of all other females. She will make the man feel ugly and unworthy, convincing him that she is the best he will ever have. Destroying the man’s self-esteem is a major part of the abuse. The man will be expected to obey her beck and call, and often be expected to take on typically female tasks such as housekeeping and child care.
The abuse will continue by restricting his ability to be anywhere without her, often even within the home. Mail, internet use and phone calls may be monitored by the abuser as well, in an attempt to maintain control over every aspect of the man’s life. If he shows any disobedience, she may throw objects, cry, use manipulative tactics, and even resort to physical violence against him. Anyone who threatens her control will be vilified, and contact with those people will be severed. She may even resort to emotional outbursts and violence against anyone who attempts to help the man.
These are all the same things that happen in male abuser relationships. The one main difference being that women, by crying or using other false emotion, can often convince the man (and other people) that all is his fault, and he is to blame. Men do the same to women, but a female abuser can often make her pleas more believable. If you know a man who is being abused, or may be abused, do what you can to bolster his confidence, and express to him that there is no shame in admitting that he is a victim, and asking for help. Unfortunately as an outsider, there is little any of us can do to stop an abusive relationship unless we witness physical violence and report it to the police. We have to be there for the victim, be supportive, and give them a safe place to go when the time comes.