Celebrities like Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, a self-proclaimed recovering bully, and actor Patrick Stewart, who came from an abusive home, are coming forward to talk about domestic violence and the devastation it wreaks on partnerships and families.
Traditionally thought of as a women’s issue, both men agree that domestic violence is an important topic for men to talk about and destigmatize, and we agree. If we can remove the stigmas of shame, we can help both those who are victims and their abusers.
“The more that we choose not to talk about domestic violence, the more we shy away from the issue, the more we lose.” – Russell Wilson
Where Did Domestic Violence Come From?
Somewhere along the line, we’ve all seen the image of a caveman dragging a woman by her hair into a cave to be dominated for various reasons. Is violence in our DNA? Did we evolve from a line of violent people where only the strongest survive? Anthropologists disagree, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. We are capable of both violence and kindness, and we are evolved humans with the capacity to think about our behaviours before we act. Blaming our ancestors for actions just doesn’t fly.
“On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.” – National Domestic Violence Hotline
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can happen to anyone, of any gender, age, orientation, culture, or economic status. The technical definition is the violent abuse of a partner or spouse within the home (although children and other relatives can be victims, too).
A lot of abusers state that when they commit acts of violence against a loved one, it’s because they lost control. We argue that abuse is actually an act of complete control. Abusive behaviour is a deliberate choice. Abusers pick whom to abuse, where to do it, when they’ll stop (usually at a time when it’s beneficial to them, for example, when the cops show up), and choose how to inflict physical abuse where marks won’t show.
People who abuse – both men and women – are controlling, manipulative, see themselves as victims, will deny or attempt to justify their actions, and feel that they have a right to be in charge of their relationship. Ironically, people who abuse others use it as a mechanism to try and save and maintain their relationship with the other. It tends to have the opposite effect.
“Nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report a related impact on their functioning.” – National Domestic Violence Hotline
Types of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence has many forms, some more subtle than others. Here are just a few examples of what domestic violence looks like:
- Physical abuse: Grabbing, twisting, beatings, punching or kicking, choking.
- Verbal abuse: Name-calling, personal attacks, accusations.
- Intimidation: Yelling and screaming, throwing, manipulation, threats, bullying.
- Sexual abuse: Sex without permission. Being married isn’t an excuse to have sex without consent.
- Psychological and emotional abuse: Insults, humiliation, condescending, criticism, gaslighting.
- Economic abuse: controlling access to money, food, clothes, transportation, education.
- Social abuse: isolating you from friends and family, restricting access to cell phones or the internet.
Men Suffer from Domestic Violence, Too
Women aren’t the only victims. In the UK, 9 percent of males had experienced some type of abuse from their partners such as stalking, physical violence or sexual assault. A Canadian survey has found that men experience violence from their partner in equal amounts to women – they’re just not willing to admit for fear of being laughed at by friends or the police.
“I have always been optimistic about humanity’s future. Always. Even at the most dismaying of times.” – Patrick Stewart
Coping with Domestic Violence
There isn’t a lot of support out there for men, whether they’re the abusers or the victims. But that doesn’t mean things can’t change. If you’re a man experiencing abuse, we can help you cope with domestic violence and get out of a dangerous relationship.
If you’re an abuser, we can help, too. We’ll first look at why you resort to violent behaviour, which might be due to difficulty regulating strong emotions, self-esteem, substance abuse, coming from an abusive family, and more. We’ll then work together using a combination of coaching and counselling to look at your attitudes and behaviours to explain what’s holding you back and how to think differently about your need to control. Finally, we’ll teach you the tools you need to manage your anger, and treat yourself and your loved ones with the respect and dignity we all deserve.