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While the majority of domestic violence victims are women, abuse of men happens far more often than you'd probably expect. Typically, men are physically stronger than women but that doesn't necessarily make it easier to escape the violence or the relationship. An abused man faces a shortage of resources, skepticism from police, and major legal obstacles, especially when it comes to gaining custody of his children from an abusive mother. No matter your age, occupation, or sexual orientation, though, you can overcome these challenges and escape the abuse.

When dealing with your abusive partner:

Leave if possible. Be aware of any signs that may trigger a violent response from your spouse or partner and be ready to leave quickly. If you need to stay to protect your children, call the emergency services. The police have an obligation to protect you and your children, just as they do a female victim.

Never retaliate. An abusive woman or partner will often try to provoke you into retaliating or using force to escape the situation. If you do retaliate, you'll almost certainly be the one who is arrested and/or removed from your home.

Get evidence of the abuse. Report all incidents to the police and get a copy of each police report. Keep a journal of all abuse with a clear record of dates, times, and any witnesses. Include a photographic record of your injuries and make sure your doctor or hospital also documents your injuries. Remember, medical personnel are unlikely to ask if a man has been a victim of domestic violence, so it's up to you to ensure that the cause of your injuries are documented.

Keep a mobile phone, evidence of the abuse, and other important documents close at hand. If you and your children have to leave instantly in order to escape the abuse, you'll need to take with you evidence of the abuse and important documents, such as passport and driver's license. It may be safer to keep these items outside of the home.

Obtain advice from a domestic violence program or legal aid resource about getting a restraining order or order of protection against your spouse and, if necessary, seeking temporary custody of your children.

Help for Men Who Are Being Abused
Recognizing the Signs and Getting Out Safely

Understanding domestic violence against men

If you're a man in an abusive relationship, it's important to know that you're not alone. It happens to men from all cultures and all walks of life. Figures suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence are male. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse by women because they feel embarrassed, or they fear they won't be believed, or worse, that police will assume that since they're male they are the perpetrator of the violence and not the victim.

An abusive wife or partner may hit, kick, bite, punch, spit, throw things, or destroy your possessions. To make up for any difference in strength, she may attack you while you're asleep or otherwise catch you by surprise. She may also use a weapon, such as a gun or knife, or strike you with an object, abuse or threaten your children, or harm your pets. Of course, domestic abuse is not limited to violence. Your spouse or partner may also:

Verbally abuse you, belittle you, or humiliate you in front of friends, colleagues, or family, or on social media sites.
Be possessive, act jealous, or harass you with accusations of being unfaithful.
Take away your car keys or medications, try to control where you go and who you see.
Try to control how you spend money or deliberately default on joint financial obligations.
Make false allegations about you to your friends, employer, or the police, or find other ways to manipulate and isolate you.
Threaten to leave you and prevent you from seeing your kids if you report the abuse.

Moving on from an abusive relationship

Support from family and friends as well as counseling, therapy, and support groups for domestic abuse survivors can help you move on from an abusive relationship. You or your children may struggle with upsetting emotions or feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. After the trauma of an abusive relationship, it can take a while to get over the pain and bad memories but you can heal and move on.

Even if you're eager to jump into a new relationship and finally get the intimacy and support you've been missing, it's wise take things slowly. Make sure you're aware of any red flag behaviors in a potential new partner and what it takes to build healthy, new relationships.

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