One in 7 men are victims of domestic abuse and violence. Today one man bravely tells his story.
[TRIGGER WARNING: emotional + verbal + physical abuse + stalking]
Interview with G.
Amy: Most people don’t realize that a man can suffer domestic violence at the hands of a female partner. Sadly, you have suffered this painful experience. What do you want others to know about your story?
G.: I was involved in a relationship in which the young lady had a very short temper. She was very, very jealous and accused me of being unfaithful (which I wasn’t). She was very demanding and controlling, and I did not realize that until after several weeks into the relationship. Initially, she called me names and cursed at me. She became increasingly destructive and very violent. She started breaking stuff in my house and slapping me. When I tried to get away, she grabbed me and tore my clothes off. One evening, she inflicted a bite mark on my arm.
Amy: Many children who have been exposed to domestic violence in their families, while growing up, experience it as adults. Was that your experience?
G.: No. I grew up in a functional household. I never even witnessed my mother and father arguing. Not to say that they didn’t have disagreements, but if they did they took it to the closet. They wouldn’t let us witness it. I grew up realizing you could have a relationship where you didn’t have to have any kind of arguments or disagreements that turned violent.
Amy: Domestic violence can take many forms and isn’t always easily identified. At what point did you understand you were experiencing abuse?
G.: The abuse reached a point where she started not only calling me names, and breaking stuff in the house, but she started breaking my windows. When she physically started abusing me, I realized I couldn’t handle the situation by myself.
Amy: That had to have been awful and terrifying. How did you first handle the situation?
G.: Since I liked her, I tried to work with her. But it reached a point where I couldn’t handle it any longer. There were times when I was being verbally and physically abused that I actually just had to run away. I’m not a small man—I’m 6’ 3,” 200 pounds. I was about a foot taller than my partner. I had to get away because I knew that if I stayed, something was going to happen, and I was going to get in trouble. I knew that if I didn’t call 911, I might protect myself and inflict pain on her. Then I’d wind up becoming the abuser.
Amy: Most victims leave an abusive partner multiple times before making a final break. Did you struggle with breaking off the relationship?
G.: As humans, we have feelings. When you have feelings for somebody, and there are good times, like the honeymoon phase, you want to work it out. You think, “Maybe if I do something a little differently, she’ll do something a little differently. If I treat her well, then maybe she’ll treat me the way I want to be treated.” I hoped for change that never happened.
Amy: At what point did you know it was time to get out?
G.: It reached a point where I had to do something about it. I had to call 911 because I knew that if I defended myself, and hurt her, I would be arrested. I learned a valuable lesson that men cannot fight fire with fire. It’s a double-edged sword because if you are looking to protect yourself while a woman is physically abusing you, then you might hurt her with the twist of your wrist, and she could be the one going to the hospital, and you could be the one going to jail. I couldn’t be concerned about my house being trashed, or my car windows being broken. I could always replace my personal possessions but I couldn’t do that from jail.
Amy: Male victims frequently face a hurdle in that men are often stereotyped as aggressors whereas women are assumed to be victims. Did that in any way affect how you responded to your girlfriend’s abuse?
G.: Men are generally taught to protect themselves in threatening situations. There were times when she was destroying my property, and I had to just walk away. If you are dealing with an abusive partner, on a physical level, and you hurt her, then you will go to jail. Men have to use common sense and self control. The whole time we were together, about 48 months, I never hit her or called her a name.
Amy: It’s extremely admirable that you didn’t react by pushing or striking back. Are there other unique issues that male victims face?
G.: As a man, it’s very difficult to step out and admit being abused by a woman. I didn’t tell my friends because it was embarrassing. It was difficult to ask for help.
Amy: What advice do you have for men and women experiencing domestic violence?
G.: The longer you stay in a domestic violence relationship, the greater the chances are that you will come out of it on the wrong end by either being injured or being arrested (after defending oneself), and that’s why it’s so important that you reach out to somebody and get some help. That’s what I did. I reached out to the police department; the domestic violence unit was instrumental in helping me. Community organizations, such as Safe Alliance, and the Women’s Commission, helped me. Without that support I would not have been able to get out of the relationship without being harmed. It takes a village to get somebody out of a domestic violence relationship. Reach out for help and get it documented that you are being abused. Let somebody know.
This story is part of our Stop the Silence, Start the Healing initiative. Each month we feature the story of one person who has never had the chance to tell her story, without fear, in a safe space. We honor these women who are speaking up.
Do you think you may be on the receiving end of abuse? Please visit our resource page for more information on what it is.