How common is it for men to be abused by an intimate partner?
If you’re a man in an abusive relationship, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Abuse of men happens far more often than you might expect. About one in three men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. And approximately one in ten men report an impact from that victimization. The most common impacts reported in a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control were fear, concern for safety, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.1
1 Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence, and Stalking Among Men, Centers for Disease Control (2018 update).
What types of abuse do men suffer?
Men can experience the same types and tactics of abuse as people of all genders do, such as stalking, harassment, physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. However, the way men face or perceive abuse can be different. For example, men may believe that physical abuse is not an effective control tactic because they still feel powerful and physically able to stop the abuse.
Psychological abuse, which is one of the most common forms of domestic violence experienced by men, usually targets a man’s masculinity. Men are usually accused of not being “manly” enough, not making enough money, being weak, or crying when abused. The critical literature review reports that while most men may not fear physical violence, they may fear the degradation and humiliation that comes from psychological abuse, especially in public.1
If you believe you are being abused by your partner, you may want to look at the Danger Assessment and Signs of Abuse sections in our Am I Being Abused? page. This information could help you identify abusive behaviors that are part of a pattern of behavior intended to maintain power and control over you.
1 Scott-Storey, K., et al., What About Men? A Critical Review of Men’s Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence- Trauma, Violence & Abuse (2022).
Why is it so difficult for men to look for and find help and support?
Sadly, getting help for male victims of abuse can be very difficult for many reasons, including limited funding available and limited services focused on men. There are also certain gender stereotypes that can affect whether men reach out for services or support and, also, how they are treated when they do. We have more information about this in What are gender stereotypes and what does it have to do with domestic violence?
Male victims can experience disbelief, insensitivity, ridicule, or even hostility in response to a claim of victimization from a female partner in particular. In a study published in 2020, some men reported being under-acknowledged, mistreated, and penalized for seeking help, which can stop them from seeking support and could put them and their children at additional risk. Victims can also struggle with the stigma associated with being a male victim of domestic violence.1 Consequently, men tend to minimize, conceal, or deny the abuse in an attempt to avoid the social stigma related to the perceived inability to protect themselves.2
1 Machado, A., Hines, D., Douglas, E., Male Victims of Female-Perpetrated Partner Violence: A Qualitative Analysis of Men’s Experiences, the Impact of Violence, and Perceptions of Their Worth (2020).
2 Patrick, W., Why Men Who are Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Report (2020).