men, forgotten victims of domestic violence?
we don't speak of " battered women " at SOS femmes Accueil,
we also do not use the term "battered men" (except to cite
other authors who use this term). This term is inappropriate because
it is too restrictive: in fact, domestic violence is not only physical
(which is the only reference of the term "battered"), it
is psychological before becoming physical, it can also be economic
and/or, at least in the case of women, sexual (forced sexual relations,
non consensual). Read
As we say for women, we prefer to refer to male victims of domestic
violence, ... even if it is longer to write or say. (If we used
the term "battered men" as the title on this page, it was
to use the cliché and to create the opportunity to discuss
it ... CQFD.)
the male victim of domestic violence exist?
On the basis of laboriously gathered testimonials, Sophie Torrent
shows that psychological violence is the favorite weapon of
women. This violence expresses itself directly in the form of refusal,
insults or unfounded accusations. An indirect and much more destructive
manner is to blow up against the people or the things to which the
man is sentimentally linked. The majority of men questioned also endured
physical violence. Chairs broken in their face, scissors planted
in their stomach or bites are some of the examples cited in the testimonials.
In the same way as domestic violence against women, that of a woman
against her spouse "targets the identity of the person".
However the roles of men and women in society are different. Domestic
violence against men certainly happens partly within the privacy of
the family unit where the man is denigrated in his role as lover
or father. But it systematically overflows from the private sphere
into the public sphere, the ultimate masculine showcase setting. The
woman attacks the man at his workplace and seeks to isolate him socially.
As a consequence of this violence, the man's identity "is wounded
from the inside by a progressive self-dispossession, and from outside
by public humiliation."
with this violence, the man feels powerless. He often prefers the
known universe of his conflicting relationship to the idea of a new
life: solitary and uncertain. If he is a father, he cannot imagine
abandoning his children to a violent woman. Conscious of the social
perception of masculinity, he hesitates to seek outside help.
Rather than take radical measures to end his uncomfortable situation,
the male victim of domestic violence develops management strategies
for his stigma. "At the beginning, he denies the violence in
the relationship to others as well as himself by emphasizing the positive
elements of the relationship." He diminishes the importance of
the violent acts or minimizes the responsibility of his wife. The
man also puts adaptation strategies into place. He protects
himself by anticipating danger. He over invests himself in his work.
He develops a heightened aptitude for patience, compassion or forgiveness
which gives him a feeling of personal valorization. Of course, the
inevitable happens. Six out of seven assaulted men questioned ultimately
happily separated from their persecutor. To get out of this spiral,
"the man must first become aware that he is battered", says
Sophie Torrent. "There must also be a catalytic incident for
the man that makes it unacceptable for him to continue to accept his
wife's behaviour." Violence against the children or intolerable
harassment at work might be the occasion for the man to end the relationship,
to see himself as a victim and, most importantly, to rebuild his own
to Sophie Torrent, one of the most insidious forms of psychological
violence consists of manipulating the man by inciting him to be physically
violent. If the man does retaliate, the law turns against him. The
assaulted woman possesses a decisive advantage: society fundamentally
believes she is the victim, whether she truly is or not. And she can,
without too much ingenuity, make people around her believe that it
is her husband who is violent.
Following these aggressions seeking to provoke violence, the man is
fearful, more than anything else, of his own violence. If the man
strikes out, the woman acquires the role of a battered woman all the
while able to continuing to psychologically assault her spouse who,
in his case, has no immediate legal weapons to be protected from this
psychological violence. The presence of this potential violence puts
the man in a stressful position on a daily basis. He knows that a
single explosion on his part can have dire consequence. If he is stigmatized
as a violent man, he knows that he will have no chance to obtain custody
of his children, among other things. This mechanism is the most violent
because it turns the male victim of his wife's violence into his own
enemy. He starts to fear his own behavior and reactions and his means
of defense inhibit him. "I'm the strongest, I must control myself".
women capable of violence?
In her much debated book Fausse Route (" Wrong Path ")(Editions
Odile Jacob, 2003), Elisabeth Badinter cites numerous examples of
violence perpetrated by women, from the active participation of
female Nazis in the undertaking of the massive destruction of the
death camps during the Holocaust to the mistreatment of their own
for which certain women feel guilty, in complicity or not.
this page of the site, for a long time, we have evoked feminine
violence and feminine domestic violence, even if in this particular
case it concerned homosexual couples. While very infrequent if one
compares it to masculine violence, similar acts are regularly denounced
by witnesses or requests for help at our email address...
domestic violence, what is the extent of this phenomenon?
to the absence of any statistics or detailed in-depth research
on the extent of this phenomenon, it is difficult to make definitive
However, it is reasonable to think - and this is not a way to deny
the problem - that the phenomenon is statistically minimal.
The reasons are essentially of a cultural nature: historical sharing
of roles by sex, a culture of virility and of machismo, etc.
Subject to an inventory, complaints for assault and battery filed
by women against male spouses and the cases of the death of male spouses
caused by their wife are quite low. It is not possible to argue an
under-declaration of deaths. Concerning the number of complaints,
even if it is true that the system makes it quite difficult for a
man to file a complaint against his wife, there is also a large under-declaration
of complaints for female victims of domestic violence.
specific associations and support groups for men exist?
To our knowledge, no specific services exist to aid male victims of
domestic violence. This is due to the fact that, on the one hand,
the phenomenon remains buried and is little known, and on the other
hand that, contrary to women (at least in France), men are never brought
together by a support group, in any case, concerning this particular
question, perhaps also because the number of victims is very low ...
Nevertheless, it is useful to specify that certain services are of
course as much available to women as they are to men (for example,
associations et services d'aide aux victimes) and that certain
others, targeting mostly women, are however completely open to
men, beginning with the network of Centres
d'Informations sur les Droits des Femmes
which regularly welcomes men, whatever the reason.