I am a man. It is this simple fact that makes my story difficult for people to believe and maybe even more difficult for people to empathize with. I am not only a man, but also a victim of domestic violence and more importantly a survivor of domestic violence. I am also a father, brother, uncle, cousin, co-worker, and friend. I am the survivor who wasn’t allowed to have a voice.
Society told me because I was 6’2″ and 215 pounds that I wasn’t supposed to be a victim. My peers told me because my DNA contained an X and a Y chromosome, that I was therefore weak and should be ashamed to be a victim of domestic violence. My culture told me it was ‘OK’ for a woman to hit a man. My brain, from a very young age, was filled with images on TV of women slapping men and canned laughter being fed from the television studio, over the airwaves, and into my home. I’m referring to the classic scene of a woman giving her man an open handed slap because for he “deserved it”. Something seemed to warrant the physical abuse. These social cues taught me, even as a young man, to accept the abuse as something normal.
For me, it all started with a slap in the face. I was a 30 something year old man and, out of nowhere, she hit me. It was painful, caught me in the ear mostly, but it was my mind that took the biggest blow. Incomprehensible anger overtook me at that moment. I reacted by throwing a radio, amongst other things, to the floor. I never hit her back. I took a stand that day and let her know just how angry I was. I let her know she could never lay her hands on me again or it would be over between us. This is the most important aspect of my story I suppose. I lacked the knowledge and courage to leave right then and there, which was the biggest mistake I made in my life. I should have just turned and ran, called the police and never looked back. I didn’t know any better.
The abuse went on for the better part of 4 years. The corroding thread of domestic violence had penetrated my soul. I was attacked while sleeping, scratched, kicked, punched, pushed, shoved, bitten and tackled. I was falsely imprisoned inside my own home and inside my car. I can still see her face as she stood in the doorway not letting me leave, as she blocked my car so I couldn’t drive away. There was the time the police were called and she was cited for domestic violence, no need for handcuffs though because she was too female or too pregnant to be taken to jail. She got out of those charges too, me too afraid to testify against her because she was too pregnant or too pathetic or too manipulative.
It was the same story the night she sent me to the emergency room. I was at the end of my rope and had no place to go. The emotional pain trumped the physical pain that night. The tears streamed down my face as I told the male nurse of the abuse. He told me he had to notify the police. That night I had to leave the ER and go back to her because she lied and said her car was broke down with our four week old baby inside. She had been driving around town looking for me at 330 am. She found a way to get me back into that house and back under her control. The worst case of abuse is when she put me in a forearm chokehold from behind pressing with the necessary force to cut off the pathway of blood leading from my jugular into my brain, at least that was my take on her attempting to take my life that day.
It was always about power and control. It always is with domestic violence. The depths of her abuse on me spread to emotional abuse. I was stalked at work, left with few friends, and isolated from my family as much as she could. My passwords to my email, Facebook, and cellphone were stolen. I was allowed zero privacy. After I left for the final time, she continued to stalk me, threaten me with taking away my son and my freedoms and harasses my new family. Her web of lies continues to this day. I guess I still am her victim, because I wait around for the next web of lies, hatred, anger, sadness, depression and psychosis from her to be cast at me and my family.
Did you know that 835,000 men are assaulted by an intimate partner every year? We are your brothers, your uncles, your cousins, your friends, your co-workers, and your fathers. The stereotypes of male victims and survivors of abuse will not change until we have a voice. The perception that men are not capable of being victimized will not change until all people, men and women, begin to see that violence is a human problem and not a male problem. If women are capable of committing violent crimes ranging from armed robbery, rape, sexual assault, and murder aren’t they also capable of domestic violence? It’s time we no longer accept the slap across the face of a man as comedy or a means to sell fried chicken in a TV commercial.
The questions of “I wonder what he did to deserve that?” should never be asked, because I am your brother. I am your uncle. I am your cousin. I am your co-worker. I am your friend. I am your father.