Palmatier focuses on helping men who are trying to end relationships or seeking coping strategies for dealing with their abusive partners. The problem is there aren’t that many services available to men.
But there are more than 250 studies that consistently show women can be as aggressive as men, according to Palmatier. Also, research shows when it comes to relational aggression (i.e., emotional abusive behaviors like name-calling) women engage in that type of abuse at a higher rate than men do.
A research study published in July 2010 even found 40% of reported domestic violence victims in Great Britain are men.
“And that is just the reported cases,” Palmatier pointed out. “How many aren’t reported? Men have good reasons to not to report abuse because they may not be believed and end up getting arrested. I would bet that if you replicated that study in the U.S. you would get roughly the same statistics.”
Yet despite overwhelming evidence, the notion that men are victims of domestic violence is largely overlooked.
“I hope abused men realize that this isn’t a unique problem and there are other people out there,” Palmatier said. “It’s not ok and you have the right to be happy and healthy.”
But there is a biased double standard in our culture where if men are violent then they must be punished and imprisoned, but when women are violent they are simply stressed or just need help and treatment.
“What I’ve noticed in my counseling experience is a lot of men didn’t know it was possible for men to be abused,” Palmatier said. “I think a lot of people tell men when they are in those kind of relationships to be more patient and more attentive to the woman’s needs. Whereas if a women were coming to a family member or friend to talk about being emotionally or physically abused, they would tell her he’s a jerk, he’s abusing you, and you need to get out.”
Men are also less likely to seek support because of the stigma associated with an abused man. Men believe and have been told from a young age to “be strong” and “act like a man” so men feel like they should be impervious, Palmatier said.
Palmatier thinks that abuse suffered by men is just as painful, if not worse, than abuse women suffer.
“I think that also makes it difficult for men to ask for support and talk to their friends and family because they don’t want to look weak or they don’t think anyone will believe them,” she said. “When you don’t have really any options to seek support, you are carrying all of that on your own. If they do decide they don’t want to be in that kind of abusive relationship anymore, they have to make a really tough decision and they could very well end up losing everything they have, including their children.”
For more information, watch an interview on DadsDivorce.com discussing PTSD and male domestic violence victims. The mens divorce attorneys of Cordell & Cordell fight for men's rights so if you are the victim of domestic violence, contact a Cordell and Cordell office nearest you.