women can be as abusive as men and deny them access to their children

Many of the factors mentioned in my last blog apply to male victims also. I have seen cases of severe emotional and physical abuse of males, who tell me that they endure it because they love the perpetrator. Men are as conscious of the wellbeing of their children as women are, and many remain because they incorrectly believe that they can deflect the violence from their children. I know of several cases where wives bluntly told their husbands ‘I will allow you to remain on my terms only’. This in effect meant strict control, where all contact with the partner’s families is totally severed. Many men also stay because they have become used to a comfortable standard of living, and rightly fear the prospect of poverty.
This is a well-justified fear. In many countries, men are vulnerable in legal separation cases, and I have known several male victims who were pauperised by separation, and could barely afford to rent an apartment. Of course, if a wife devotes her time to looking after her children, it is only fair and right that her ex-husband must support her. However, I also know men whose ex-wives are professionally qualified, earned a living before marriage, did not have children, and were granted substantial maintenance by the courts. The sums involved were ruinous to the ex-husbands.
Male socialisation can be as relevant a factor as female socialisation in the context of having an abusive relationship. Many men are conscious of how society might view them if it was seen that they were fleeing from physical abuse. They also rightly fear losing their children in a custody battle, where women are generally favoured by the courts. Some of my clients were denied reasonable access to their clients, because perpetrators told lies about them in court. There is a support group for male victims, appropriately named AMEN, which is a voluntary organisation. It provides a confidential helpline and a support service and information.
Just as belonging to particular minority groups sometimes attracts abusiveness, it can also create difficulties in leaving. Physically handicapped people may have become dependent on the abuser. Ethnic minorities face obstacles and problems if they decide to leave. They may not find the same social support as others, and for some minority groups it is seen as unforgiveable to leave a spouse. Services specifically for fleeing gay people are severely limited. Lesbians may not find a safe place because shelters are equally open to their abusers. There are even fewer safe places for gay men.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

Posted in abuse, domestic abuse
Tags: ,