After I was regularly attacked and my assailants’ (who happened to be my wife) anger had burnt out and she was on a calm plateau, I would challenge the unreasonable behaviour and be met with one of two responses: denial or she’d say, “You’re a man, you can cope with it.” As I’ve spoken to other men who have been violently assaulted by their partner I’ve found that this notion seems quite common among some women, the idea that it’s okay to hit your male partner because you can’t really hurt him, he won’t feel any pain and therefore it doesn’t really count as domestic violence.
I’ve been giving this some thought as to where such nonsense originates from. During infancy, boys receive the message that it’s a sign of weakness to cry, in fact that to show any sort of emotion is not the done thing for men. And so when a young boy is hit by another in a juvenile fight, he tries his upmost not to show the pain he feels from his injuries. “It’s just a scratch.” “It’s only a little cut’ “It looks far worse than it is.” Etc. The last thing he wants is for his peers to see him ‘crying like a little girl.’ For the young schoolboy, being called a girl is reason enough to grit their teeth and not to show the pain they feel. This response then stays with most men all through their life. The reality is that males feel pain just like everyone else but society has conditioned them to suppress that pain and not exhibit any emotion.
In the laws of the playground jungle, Boys also learn very quickly that you never hit a girl. Some girls however, also recognise that a boy won’t hit them and they may think it’s funny to hit a boy who they know won’t strike back. Again, this pattern of behaviour later establishes itself in adulthood.
As a man, I’ve found it hard to express my feelings and emotions. Even now, I’m still reluctant to show my pain or to express my hurt. The important thing is that I have found a safe environment where I can. Bottling it all up or suppressing our hurt and our feelings then impacts our own mental well-being.
Domestic violence is still largely perceived as a gender issue. It shouldn’t be. All abuse is wrong and the gender of both the perpetrator and victim is immaterial. Gender is NOT the reason the abuse happens and therefore, any restorative action shouldn’t be based around gender.
However, the difficulty remains. A man being attacked by a woman feels defenceless. He often chooses not to fight back because of his values. There are many portrayals of women attacking men – some view it amusing. Others see it as fair game, the man must deserve it, and anyway that little woman can’t hurt that big, strapping man. Because of this, people will accept the violent behaviour not appreciating the bigger picture.
However, for every example you can think of where you’ve seen a man being hit by a woman (and you would have seen quite a few on television maybe without realising it) , just imagine switching the genders. You will never see that scene portrayed as man to woman. Why then, make mockery of women attacking men. Any form of violence towards any person hurts. All abuse is wrong.
Men DO feel pain. They feel the pain of the attack. They have the pain of having to cope alone as very few will have understanding towards them. They may even suffer the pain of losing everything in life they held dear.
Domestic Abuse is not gender specific, and neither is pain. Everyone hurts.