In countries where cultural values come steeped in toxic masculinity, it is difficult for male domestic abuse victims to come forward. While there are numerous reports regarding domestic abuse on women, male victims continue to endure pain in silence, seldom speaking up. Yes, men also face domestic violence. Many may find it comical, but that is exactly the reason why men refuse to speak up. Among men and women, especially in countries as patriarchal as India, male dominance is a thing of reverence. It is a norm for a man to be physically stronger than his wife, and thus more powerful. So for many, a man who faces abuse from his wife isn’t only weak, he is not a man at all.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • While there are numerous reports regarding domestic abuse on women, male victims continue to endure in silence.
  • For many, a man who faces abuse from his wife isn’t only weak, he is not a man at all. 
  • There are no clear statistics on how many men endure domestic violence in our country.
  • That men can suffer abuse of any kind at the hands of their wives is beyond comprehension in our country.

Yes, men also face domestic violence. Many may find it comical, but that is exactly the reason why men refuse to speak up.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales show that, in the year ending March 2018 nearly two million adults between ages 16 to 59 years had experienced domestic abuse. Of that, over one-third were estimated to be men. But when it comes to India, such cases remain largely unreported. We do not know how many men actually endure domestic violence in our country. The reason for that is the strong association of shame which comes the way of male survivors of domestic abuse, due to our toxic ideas about masculinity.

That men can suffer abuse of any kind at the hands of their wives is beyond comprehension in our country. We have been conditioned to not see men as victims. Men themselves resent to see themselves as the oppressed. It becomes an issue of prestige for them. In our patriarchal society, a lot rides on the manhood or the ideas which are sold in the name of manhood. From social standing and to attractiveness to admiration among peers, being a man and living up to the idea forms a vital pillar for male existence.

In our patriarchal society, a lot rides on the manhood or the ideas which are sold in the name of manhood.

When a man faces domestic abuse it hurts him on multiple levels. It hurts his confidence in his gender, is he even a man, if he takes a hit from a woman? Should he feel ashamed of his bruises? Is he a coward or plain incompetent, if he cannot escape physical abuse at the hands of his wife? Male survivors grapple with these questions on a day-to-day basis, and thus hesitation creeps in. They know that the blame for being abused will fall on them. It will be seen as their own failure to protect themselves. They also know that their abuse will become a matter of joke.

While we see abuse of woman for what it is, male domestic abuse is unacknowledged and laughable to many. But the bruises that male survivors carry aren’t any less painful or severe. In case of any abuse, we shouldn’t look at the gender but the degree of suffering. The inability to protect themselves isn’t their failure. In fact, it is our failure as a society that they have to quietly endure the abuse, just to avoid social shaming. If UK statistics are anything to go by, then male domestic abuse is neither uncommon nor laughable. We are putting the well-being of millions of men at risk here by choosing to overlook it. We are isolating them and forcing them into silence with our prejudices. And if anything happens to them, the onus lies with us, as much as it does with their abusers.

Picture Credit: The Independent

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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