Black men and domestic violence… the other side of the story

Society has been conditioned to think of domestic violence victims as women and sometimes don’t stop to recognize the behavior by women against men that can also be labeled violent. Domestic violence does not discriminate against age, race, color, creed, gender or sexual orientation. And while women may hesitate to call for help, men who are victims of abuse are even less likely to seek assistance.

A study from the National Domestic Violence Hotline showed that in 2003, approximately 74 percent of their calls came from women, while 12 percent came from men and the other 14 percent came from an unknown gender. The U.S. Department of Justice estimated that 4.5 million physical assaults against women and 2.9 million physical assaults against men occur annually. The 2.9 million assaults against men represent 39 percent of all such assaults. It is estimated that males make up between 15-35 percent of all victims annually.

In traditional relationships, the man is expected to be the chief provider. The man is supposed to take care of his household and protect those around him. But who is there to protect the man if he is with a physically dominant or emotionally abusive female?

Women who are abusive toward men usually have unrealistic expectations and make unrealistic demands of their mates. These women will typically experience repeated episodes of depression, anxiety, frustration and irritability, which they attribute to a man’s behavior. In fact, their mental and emotional state is usually the result of their own insecurities, emotional problems, or traumatic experiences often encountered during their childhoods. Women who are heavy drinkers may even become abusive toward men after experiencing symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol.

“It’s crazy, I know a guy whose girlfriend always questions him and pokes him on the side of the head,” said Jasmine Williams, 22, from Florida.

Domestic violence against men can be in the form of emotional, sexual and/or physical abuse. Women with abusive tendencies might provoke their boyfriends and husbands, hit them on the side of the head, push their foreheads back and call them names, and even become physically destructive toward personal property. Threatening abuse toward an individual can also be considered a form of domestic violence and is not limited to homosexual or heterosexual relationships.

Unfortunately, many survivors of domestic violence do not report their abusers to the police or access services at domestic violence services due to reasons such as shame, fear, or being prevented from doing so by their abusers. For this reason, we may never know the true extent of abuse in our society.

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