One in four men suffer from
in the United States
Domestic abuse is a serious problem in the United States. According to the CDC, more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the U.S. are victims of domestic violence. They are not far behind the women: more than one in three women (35.6 percent) are victims of domestic violence.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a special report of their National Crime Victimization Survey entitled, “Victimizations Not Reported to Police, 2006-2010.” They informed their audience that 52 percent, or 3,382,200 cases, of all violent instances were not reported to the police. Thus, 55 percent of males (1,859,800) who were victimized did not report it to the police, versus 49 percent of females (1,522,400).
The DOJ measured the average annual number of instances not reported and broke them down further into five categories for why men do not report violence:
- 36% dealt with it in another way;
- 22% did not find it important enough to report;
- 18% had another reason or, not one important reason;
- 16% believed police would not or could not help;
- 8% had fear of reprisal or getting their offender in trouble.
Regardless of the actual statistic, both genders deserve access to a vast range of resources, such as abuse shelters and emergency hotlines, public awareness, and public support.
This focus on male abuse victims is important because it affects everyone in society, whether directly or indirectly. Female abuse victims deserve the public’s support and resources, but so do our sons, brothers, fathers, husbands, uncles, cousins, grandfathers, peers, colleagues, and friends. Wider awareness is important because it will help to abate the problem when more people in society understand and help victims of both genders. It is important not to ignore the 28.5% of males who are victimized in the U.S. Say there is a family of four sons; ignoring society’s 28.5% of male victims is like ignoring one of those four sons traumatized by domestic abuse.
Warning: The following interview may contain upsetting material not suitable for children under 18.
Jamie Sivrais is a 28-year old male who was sexually abused by his father for two years when he was in middle school. He recently launched his non-profit website A Voice For The Innocent in the winter of 2012, which works as an anonymous forum for sexual abuse victims to share their stories and talk to each other. It offers a number of resources:
- Online counseling
- List of abuse centers for every U.S. state
- Teen forum – any issue: stress at school, being bullied, sexual abuse, and rape
- “Elder Wisdom Circle” – composed of senior citizen volunteers who will chat with you
“A lot of [the counselor’s] are certified counselors and a lot of them are just a listening ears kind of thing,” Jamie said in a Skype interview. “I really want to be able to cover bases for whatever people need… Maybe they just want to tell their story and feel like someone understands.”
Though he and his dad did try to develop a father-son relationship after the incident, Jamie said it didn’t work out and that it would have been unhealthy to force it.
Prior to launching the website, Jamie sent his father a Facebook message about what he was doing. “But I also told him, you know, ‘I don’t need your input, because it won’t be considered. Like, I’m not doing this for you, and I’m not doing this against you. I’m doing this for me and for anyone else that’s in my shoes, so I’m not considering what you have to say about it.’ And he never responded.”
Much like A Voice For The Innocent, Women in Distress (WID) is a non-profit organization. For the past 38 years, WID has helped women, children and men in the Broward County area. It is a nationally accredited, state-certified organization that was founded in July 1974 by concerned citizens. This full-service domestic violence center offers crisis shelter, resources and support to victims. Despite its title, WID doesn’t just cater to women; it helps men, women and children. Its mission is “To stop domestic violence abuse for everyone through intervention, education and advocacy.”
WID offers several ways to help anyone who is being abused, completely free of charge:
- Emergency shelter program
- 100-bed shelter; capacity to expand to 132 beds
- Individual counseling
- Support groups
- Professional trainings – educate the community about domestic violence
- 24-hour Crisis Hotline (954) 761-1133
- Additional phone number for any question (954) 760-9800 x 1221
- Thrift store
To donate to what they do in the community, go to their website.
Mary Riedel volunteered at Women in Distress for 16 years before becoming its President and CEO in 2008. She directs a staff of 85 employees in what is one of the larger non-profit organizations in Broward County.
Their Board of Directors consists of 23 people and they receive both public and private sector support. Since becoming the head of WID, Mary has seen the bed capacity rise from 62 to 132, as well as the opening of their new Jim & Jan Moran Center campus in the summer of 2011.
The Jim & Jan Moran Family Center opened in November 1995 in Fort Lauderdale, which instantly elevated the agency’s visibility, usability and capacity to serve more families in Broward County and today, this non-profit has expanded in order to meet the community needs for emergency shelter and services. The new Jim & Jan Moran Family Center campus opened in the summer of 2011, which doubled the agency’s emergency shelter and outreach services. There’s also a wellness center, therapy room, a wing for families with special needs, and a Broward Sheriff’s Substation.
“Jerry’s” mom sexually, emotionally and physically abused him until he was fifteen years old. Shortly after his first wife left him for another man, Jerry met his second wife, who physically and emotionally terrorized him for a year and half when he was in his late twenties. Thirty years later, shortly after his house burned down and he struggled with an addiction to pain medication, Jerry finally opened up to a therapist about it (who he still meets with).
Warning: The following interview may contain upsetting material not suitable for children under 18.
Above is a timeline of his relationship with his second wife, which lasted for a year and a half. (Jerry met her in late December 1989, married her in September 1990, had their son in March 1991, and finally escaped from her in late October 1991.)
Consider that, if society discounts the male demographic when discussing any kind of abuse, abuse is then fostered. Abbe Smith, a law professor at Georgetown Law came out with a faculty publication in 2005 called “The ‘Monster’ in All of Us: When Victims Become Perpetrators.”
Although victims do not always become perpetrators, a truism repeated by prosecutors at sentencing as if it were a profound revelation never before put into words, it is the rare serious perpetrator who was not also a victim. Of course, there are people who commit crime out of self-indulgence, self-interest, meanness, or madness. But among those who have committed serious crime, it is the rare perpetrator who has not also suffered. It is the rare death row inmate whose life does not read like a case study of extreme deprivation and abuse. It is the rare juvenile incarcerated in an adult prison for rape or murder who has had anything other than the cruelest of childhoods. (p. 369)
- Physical violence: uses physical force with the potential for causing harm, injury, disability, or death.
- Sexual violence: it is divided into three categories: physical force to engage in a sexual act against a person’s will, even if the act isn’t completed; abusive sexual contact; engaging in a sexual act with someone who is unable to understand or decline the act (e.g. because of a disability, illness, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, etc.).
- Threats of physical or sexual violence: uses words, gestures, or weapons to communicate harm in the form of death, disability, injury, or physical harm.
- Psychological/emotional violence: it can include, but is not limited to, stalking, isolating the victim from loved ones, purposely humiliating the victim, making the victim feel diminished, denying the victim access to basic resources and money, withholding information from the victim, controlling the victim’s choices, etc.
More about this study:
This study covers testimonies of people in the United States from 1993 to the present day. Because all men are created equal, it is important to help both the abuser and the abused, because they are often the same person.
Much like the female abuse victim, male abuse victims are also in need of support and resources. To ignore them is to ignore the female victim. Why? Because if a young boy (or a male of any age) is sexually, physically, or psychologically abused, it is likely that he will go on to repeat the very things done to him.
Many girls and women-and boys and men-are first victims and then become perpetrators. My purpose in writing this paper is to challenge the belief that there is a great divide between people to whom terrible things are done and people who do terrible things. They are often the same people. Those who claim to care about victims of child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence and who abandon them when they repeat the behavior by acting out against others fail to make these critical connections. (p. 393)
It is one thing to talk about women who have been horribly victimized and who subsequently kill a potential victimizer… But, it is something else to talk about men and boys who have been horribly victimized and who then rape or kill women. This need not be so. Many of the same factors that give rise to women committing acts of violence apply to boys and men. Family violence is a shared root cause of subsequent violence. The same social and political conditions that give rise to violence against women give rise to violence by men. (pp. 391-392)
The P. Luna Foundation is a California-based organization that fights child abuse by creating awareness and education to combat it. It reaches out to male victims and perpetrators (who want help). “If you help one boy from becoming a batterer, you’ve potentially saved one or two women’s lives or a child’s life,” she shares in an October 20, 2012 Skype interview. A former abuse victim herself, Ochoa has a passion for preventing abuse. She states that, by helping perpetrators and victims alike, you do the most good for society.
As a child, Barbara Ochoa was sexually abused, and as an adult, she was psychologically battered. Though she was opposed at first to helping male abuse perpetrators AND victims, she has since started the P. Luna Foundation, which was founded in 2007.
How To Help:
During part of the interview, Ochoa suggested some ways to raise awareness and support for male abuse victims:
- Talk to nearby shelters to see if they cater to male abuse victims – even if only ONE room is reserved for them
- See if they (or anyone else locally) is doing anything to help the abuser who wants support to change
- Get a dialogue going on in favor of reaching out to that demographic
Please, consider getting involved in this important fight for men, which in turn will help women and children in direct and indirect ways.