When we initially think of the phrase “domestic abuse” what comes to mind first and foremost? What gender do we associate with this horrific act? Female.
Domestic abuse has been a topic that’s been long overlooked, but one, to which, the media is throwing into the ring. In recent weeks there have been multiple cases of domestic abuse against men being brought up. One of the biggest examples was the revelation that Johnny Depp was not, in fact, abusive towards his estranged wife Amber Heard; she was exposed as the abuser within the relationship through an audio recording that lasted the duration of over an hour. Throughout the audio clip, we here Heard making a serious of damning comments, such as: “Tell the world, Johnny, tell them… I Johnny Depp, a man, I’m a victim too of domestic violence… and see how many people believe or side with you”, “I f**king was hitting you… I don’t know what the motion of my hand was, but you’re fine, I did not hurt you, I did not punch you, I was hitting you” and “I can’t promise I won’t get physical again. God, I fucking get so mad sometimes I lose it.”
This turned social media on its head, as since 2016 there had been a very public witch hunt out against Johnny Depp since he had been branded as an evil monster, whilst Amber Heard was crowned a voice for victims of domestic abuse; she even began to work with me too movement and became a spokeswomen for them. Building your entire career for the past four years based on the facade of you being a victim of domestic abuse, and being someone that women going through hardships can look to for guidance and inspiration and getting away with it shows the kind of person you are.
This situation brings up many issues engraved into our society that must be dealt with in order for us to move forward and become more understanding regarding domestic abuse towards men.
Today the IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) for Women is more socially recognised than the IPV for Men; this is for reasons being IPV for men is a controversial topic of research and one that has been heavily criticised due to two key reasons. The first reason being that the female-perpetrated IPV is part of the wide anti-feminist backlash, which has become a large movement within society due to feminism becoming viewed as synonymous with misandry. They claim that the only real reason IPV for Men has become a popular topic of conversation is in order to completely undermine and degrade female victims of domestic abuse.
Perpetrating this viewpoint is incredibly harmful and does more bad than good as it is not placing all victims of domestic abuse on an equal platform, it alluding to male victims only coming forward out of spite, which is just not true as in the UK we only saw the first female being jailed for domestic violence against her partner in 2018. Men have been brought up with the idea of masculinity and the phrase “men don’t cry”, they are ridiculed and bullied by both friends, family and foe if they show just an ounce of proof that they are still just a human being with human emotions; society has pressured them into becoming emotionless and strong, never to show their true feelings as its a sign of weakness in the eye of the beholder.
Another major issue is the notorious statement many people have made over the years, certainly, my teacher in Year Eight made this dashing comment which left me shocked… “Men cannot be raped.”
This is a dangerous comment to make as it belittles the male victims of rape, but also gives people this notion that if they were to rape a man it is never going to be taken as seriously in both the court of law and the court of society. Statistically, that statement cannot be backed up as according to SurvivorsUK (charity aiming to bring both awareness and support to male victims of sexual assault and abuse) “An estimated 12,000 men are raped in the UK every year, and more than 70,000 are sexually abused or assaulted.” These numbers are staggering and they increase more and more as society moves forwards still denying that men can ever fall victim to any type of abuse. Men are more likely to hide away from the world and never speak a word of their assault, which leads to an increase of suicidal thoughts and tendencies within the demographic.
In the UK, men are three times as likely to die by suicide than women. The stats have gotten that bad suicide has been called the biggest killer of men, even worse than cancer.
So, going back to the IPV for Men, another comment that is often made is that IPV against men is underreported and that causes a significant problem. It places women in a situation of even greater victimisation by abusive men, but a lot of radical feminists will ignore that because they are often quoted as using the Me Too movement as a guise to follow through with their “men are the root of all evil” agenda – but in the process, they’re undermining abuse against men and boys as young as two. Instead of making the world a better place for men to speak up, they would rather it be harsh and cruel and ignorant to the abuse men can very much face at the hands of women.
However, there is a theory that women perpetrate IPV at roughly similar rates as men which have been coined as “gender symmetry.” Earliest empirical evidence of gender symmetry was presented in the 1975 US National Family Violence Survey which had been carried out by Murray A. Straus and Richard J. Gelles on a nationally representative sample of 2,146 “intact families.” The survey found 11.6% of women and 12% of men had experienced some kind of IPV in the last twelve months, also 4.6% of men and 3.8% of women had experienced “severe” IPV. This shows us that even if we were to look at just a small number of families, the results would shock us surrounding how many men are victims of domestic abuse – this could be pinned on the idea of men not being able to come forward or women having this awareness of societies views on IPV against men and using it to their advantage.
Either way, male domestic abuse can no longer go on being so damningly ignored in both the media and in courtrooms; the more awareness we raise about not only the stigma but the double standards surrounding this topic, the more lives we could save in the process.
And if you are a man going through any kind of abuse right now do not hesitate to talk to someone, people are here and they will listen to you. Speak up and you have more chance of being heard, the tide is changing on how the media portrays IPV against men and we should get on the right side of history.