There is a stigma around abuse. While rarely talked about in the media, more men and boys than ever before are coming forward to seek help for domestic abuse. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate, it can affect any age, ethnicity and gender. In fact, according to a domestic violence report produced by the Calgary Police Service in May of 2016, one in five victims of domestic conflict in our city were men.
Men and boys are just as much at risk of any type of family violence as women. While psychological and emotional abuse are the most common types, physical abuse does happen as well.
For men who are experiencing any form of abuse or conflict with an intimate partner or family member, it is important to know that at Calgary Counselling Centre, we have specialized programs available.
Research has shown that men are often reluctant to report abuse by an intimate partner because they feel embarrassed, they are worried they won’t be believed, or that authorities will assume that because they are male that they are the perpetrator and not the victim.
These notions have made it increasingly difficult for those experiencing abuse to come forward, leading to only 50% of men self-reporting abuse over the last five years.
There is never a wrong time to seek help or support. Admitting that there is a problem is not a sign of weakness or failure. Telling someone you trust is the first step, and without intervention the situation could get worse before it gets better.
Ending any relationship, especially an abusive one, is never easy. Often times, men who are experiencing abuse feel that they have to stay in the relationship for a variety of reasons:
- Protecting the children. Some men may worry that if they leave, their partner may harm their children or prevent access to them.
- Feeling ashamed. Many men feel ashamed that they have been beaten down by an intimate partner or that they failed in their role as a protector and provider for the family.
- Religious beliefs. Some religious beliefs may say that you should stay in the relationship.
- Lack of resources. Many men have difficulty being believed by authorities or their abuse is minimized because of their gender. This leads to a perception that there is a lack of available resources.
- Same sex relationships. Men in same sex relationships who have not come out to their friends or family could be afraid that their partner will out them.
You’re in denial. Denying that there is a problem can be an easy solution to not address the issue. Many believe that they can help their abuser or have been promised a change.
If you are considering leaving your abusive partner, there are a few things to be aware of.
- Be ready to leave. Be conscious of any signs that may trigger a violent response from your partner and be ready to leave quickly. If you need to stay to protect your children, call emergency services. The police have an obligation to protect you and your children, just as they would a female victim.
- Never retaliate. An abusive partner may try to provoke you into retaliating physical abuse or using force to escape the situation. If you do retaliate, there is a chance you could be arrested and/or removed from your home.
- Get evidence. Be sure to always report any incident to the police and get a copy of each police report. You could also consider keeping a journal of any instance of abuse with dates, times and any witnesses. Be sure to include photographs of any injuries and make sure your doctor or the hospital documents your injuries. Medical personnel are unlikely to ask men if they have been a victim of domestic violence, so be sure to speak up so the cause of your injuries is documented.
- Keep evidence close at hand. If you have to leave a situation quickly, you may want to consider having the evidence of your abuse on a mobile phone or in a safe location outside of the home where you can easily access it.
Our programs for male victims of domestic abuse
Here at Calgary Counselling Centre, we can support men who are experiencing domestic abuse in a variety of ways.
Our Turn for the Better program is designed for men who have experienced abuse in an intimate relationship. It explores the issues of abuse and offers methods to have a healthier life.
Additionally, we offer a Men’s Domestic Outreach program where individuals who are unsure about counselling and need support can meet with one of our counsellors in a neutral location, such as a coffee shop, and talk about their situation.
If you or someone you know may have experienced any of the above types of abuse, or need someone to talk to, we are here to help.
Talk to a counsellor today to learn more about our Turn for the Better and Male Domestic Abuse Outreach programs.