REAL CRIME | APRIL 20, 2020 | BY ADAM JANOS
“Most of the time, when the call starts, they’ll say something about ‘I’m ashamed of this, I feel I shouldn’t even be talking to anyone.’ They feel like they’re not supposed to be going through it,” Lee tells A&E Real Crime.
That trend of hiding victimhood and self-blaming might be contaminating broader surveys about intimate partner violence, argues Philip Cook, author of Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence.
“They’re embarrassed,” says Cook, adding that while “men do talk to other men,” they’re more skittish about reporting their abuse to female crisis counselors. One 1999 study he notes showed male victims of sexual violence reporting their abuse less often to female interviewers than to male ones.
It’s a Woman’s World
While women are at systemic disadvantage in many facets of public life, in the world of domestic abuse the protective measures currently in place disproportionately favor women.
In 2008, California’s Supreme Court found that abused men struggled to gain access to the state’s domestic violence shelters and programs on the basis of their gender. State agencies were ordered thereafter to boost their programs’ gender inclusiveness, but Cook says it’s unclear how much compliance there is nationally.
At the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Lee says many male callers express fear of involving police.
“They’re afraid that if they contact police, because they’re male, they’ll get arrested. That keeps them from reaching out,” says Lee.
Cook—who interviewed more than 100 abused men for his book—says that abused men with children have even more complicated situations. Many, Cook says, stay with abusive partners for fear of losing access to their children because of assumed gender bias in family court.
“They know they’re going to be reduced to every-other-weekend visitation,” says Cook. “They’re scared to death of that, and they’re scared of child-support payments. [Abused] men are quite aware of those two factors.”