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Domestic Violence and Abused Men

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Research Question

In the modern world the cases of domestic abuse of men have grown. Consider the statistics, “25%-30% of all intimate violence is exclusively female on male”(Corry, Fiebert & Pizzey, 2002, p.1). Given the revealed data, it is necessary to accentuate that domestic violence against men still remains lower than the same violation of human rights respectfully females. Nevertheless, it is identified that men are far more reluctant to report abuse comparing to women (Pandora’s Project, 2009). It is not surprising that this peculiarity is connected with the notion of masculinity that affects man’s decisions. In addition, it has a significant impact on the views and beliefs of the third parties. In particular, most people share the opinion that men are supposed to be strong physically and emotionally, thus, they must be capable of fixing their private issues without involving any third parties. That is why, the true numbers of the abused men are not detected, but expected to be significantly higher than the reported numbers.

In these terms, one should accentuate that the notion of masculinity as cultural attitude has two negative implications. The first is the concealing of the true magnitude of issues connected with domestic males’ abuse; whereas, the second is that this attitude encourages the increase of violence against men. Both of these wicked outcomes will be reviewed in more detail below. Apart from that, the abuse of men can be linked to the political and social policies that are not sufficient enough to protect males from domestic violence. In this regard, it is appropriate to point out that the legislation of gay marriages is reported to be the factor that caused considerable enhancement of the male domestic violence ratio (Mulroney & Chan, 2005). Whereas, this claim does not presume that granting sexual minorities with equal rights is an incorrect decision, it suggests that the legislative basis should be aligned with the contemporary social demands. Furthermore, it is possible to presume that the ratio of men’s domestic abuse is positively related to certain demographic particularities, such as men’s age, social position, the level of education and income.

Comprehending the seriousness of the discussed issue, one should acknowledge that the increase of the abused men is an alarming sign that must be seriously considered and addressed at a state and social levels worldwide. To begin with, it is appropriate to detect and discuss what factors stipulate the increase of males’ domestic abuse. This research paper is aimed at identifying the today’s causes of men’s domestic violence observing them from the perspective of the ‘hegemonic masculinity’.

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Terms and Variables

To understand the social concept of ‘hegemonic masculinity’ one should refer to a well-known history of gender confrontation. In particular, from the ancient times, the male part of the world is known to dominate over females (Shuler, 2010). The dominance, including the discussed one, is stipulated by the capacity to control and suppress. For instance, men were stronger, more aggressive, more physically developed and, thus, these qualities resulted in their dominant position. Nonetheless, in this regard,  there is a less accentuated peculiarity that ‘hegemonic masculinity’ also suggests men’s dominance over weaker males. This implication of dominance gains relevance in the modern world when the same-sex relations become more common and widespread. It suggests that both men and women can be the victims of their intimate partners. Given this scrutiny, it is possible to presume that this plausibility itself is a significant factor that contributes to the increase of domestic violence against men.

Theory Framework

The definition ‘hegemonic masculinity’ “implies the power of being able to dominate without using raw force as the main or only means of domination” (Harders, n. d., p. 140). In other word, the power to dominate is attributed to a male individual basing on his gender. On the one hand, it creates favorable conditions for a man to abuse physically and mentally his partner regardless his/her gender. On the other hand, the notion of ‘hegemonic masculinity’ encourages the development of the confrontation from the side of the intimate partners. Simply put, it forms the rationale that if a man is strong he can be abused because for him it is not as important/painful/offensive/distrustful as for his weaker partner. This premise is a part of social relations that may exist at the unconscious level engaging potentially weaker individuals to express violence in order to assert themselves or foresee plausible offensive actions of their stronger and dominant partners.

Furthermore, evaluating ‘hegemonic masculinity’ from social and political perspectives, it is possible to suggest that, as the innate attribution, it leads to the men’s dominance in prestige works and, respectfully, higher income. Apart from that, ‘hegemonic masculinity’ can be linked to the demographic peculiarities of age and education. Specifically, it is natural to assume that higher education and life experience add power to all people. In a case of the individuals who were identified as moral agents, this acquisition of additional power may stipulate the stronger confrontation with their intimate partners.

On the other hand, it leaves men less protected than women in terms of legacy. For example, in family conflicts men are often recognized as the offenders a priori. The rationale of this belief is the following: men are stronger; their strength makes them become the moral agents who are responsible for moral and ethical resolution of conflicts. These examples suggest that political and social regulations involuntary and indirectly contribute to the increase of males’ domestic assaults by setting unequal conditions in terms of violence anticipation.

Considering the above-revealed terms and frameworks of the ‘hegemonic masculinity’ concept, it is appropriate to emphasize that this study will survey the reasons of the increased domestic violence against men from the three perspectives. These are the negative implications of masculinity, political and social attitudes, and demographic peculiarities.


Given the highlighted variables, this research surveys the following premises. Demographic peculiarities such as men’s age, the level of income and social position are positively related to the enhanced domestic violence committed against males. Moreover, it is suggested that the cultural variable of masculinity deteriorates this problem because it encourages them to conceal the acts of violence. In addition, men’s intimate partners, who are considered to be weaker, are inclined to express more violence striving to protect themselves from ‘hegemonic masculinity’. Besides, this study aims to identify how political and social policies and attitudes are shaped by the notion of masculinity and, thus, contribute to the development of man’s abuse by maintaining inefficient anti-violence measures.

To address the researched premises, this paper will study the credible sources that reveal the corresponding quantitative data. In addition, it will review the testimonies of both the offenders and victims of the males’ domestic violence. Besides, this survey will observe the findings and insights that are already known about the researched question.

The criteria that were applied to detect the sources are the following. Firstly, the publications must contain unbiased empirical data that can be successfully used during this research. Secondly, the authors/publishers’ credentials must be evaluated from the perspective of objectivism and competence. Thirdly, most sources should be recent (published within the last 10-15 years), which is supposed to assure the reflection of the modern conditions and magnitude of the studied issue.

Literature Review Outline

Masculinity and Domestic Violence against Men

As was emphasized above, hegemonic masculinity contributes to both men’s violence against their female or male partners and women’s violence against male partners that is evoked as the response towards ‘hegemonic masculinity’. It is suggested that “people hit and abuse family members because they can” (Corry, Fiebert & Pizzey, 2002, p. 1). In these terms, the notion of masculinity contributes to the formation of idea that violence is permitted. What makes the things even worse is that domestic violence against men is characterized with a great controversy. For instance, there are different types of violence as well as different reasons. Moreover, it is hard to distinguish the true victims from those who pretend to be abused or those, who experienced violence in a response to their aggression. Consider the example, researchers emphasize that in many cases “a wife who beats her husband has herself been beaten and that her violence is the violence of self-defence” (Lewis & Sarantakos, 2001, p. 2). This reason is widespread and complicates the detection of the true size of males’ domestic abuse. Apart from that, as ‘hegemonic masculinity’ suggests, women abuse men using the gender of their intimate partners as an excuse. For instance, the researchers conducted a questionnaire of women who abused their partners with the purpose to identify the prevailing causes that predefined the occurrence of violence. The responses were the following:

I believe that men can readily protect themselves so I don t worry when I become physically aggressive (24%). I have found that most men have been trained not to hit a woman and therefore I am not fearful of retaliation from my partner (19%). I learned when growing up that I could be physically aggressive toward my brother and he would not fight back (12%) (Corry, Fiebertn & Pizzey, 2002, p. 2).

As it is seen from the responses, the notion of masculinity is utilized to excuse the violent behavior against men. Moreover, the negative implication of this cultural attitude is rooted quite deep in the conscious of both victims and offenders. Therefore, in many cases, none of them considers such behavior as improper, which creates beneficial conditions for violence intensification.

In terms of the types of violence, it is appropriate to accentuate the physical and mental abuse. This classification also implies the vagueness of the domestic assaults. To be more precise, many people may not even know that they are being offended since violence is much more than the use of physical power. The corresponding study suggests that most men experienced domestic mental abuse at least one time (EU Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, n. d. p. 4). The mental domestic abuse includes various kinds of humiliations such as calling offensive names, belittling, ridiculing, isolating from family and social circle and many others (Pandora’s Project, 2009, p. 2-3).

Among other types of abuse one can distinguish: financial abuse (control of expenses, deprivation of financial autonomy); indirect physical offense, which presumes the destruction of property and causing harm to pets or dear people of a victim. In addition, an important part of domestic violence is sexual abuse that presumes forcing an intimate partner to do the actions that are undesirable or even hazardous. Another classification suggests that violence against men can be “‘expressive’ (in the heat of anger, to get one’s point across, etc.) or ‘instrumental’ (to control, subdue, or reproduce subordination)” (Kimmel, 2002, p. 2). The instrumental violence is more common, but at the same time, being a part of interpersonal relations and manipulations, it is harder to be identified.

Considering the above-mentioned, it is possible to deduce that ‘hegemonic masculinity’ contributes to the development of violence by instilling the mental attitudes in both men and women that allow or excuse committing the act of abuse against a male intimate partner. The next section is aimed at scrutinizing the connection between individual cultural attitude of masculinity and political/social aspects of this issue.

Political and Social Lapses in Addressing Domestic Abuse of Males

Social concept of ‘hegemonic masculinity’ was developed and shaped over centuries. Therefore, in the modern world it is deeply rooted in people’s minds and exists as a part of national awareness worldwide. In these terms, men are taught to avoid complaining; besides, they are raised to be averse of failures, meanwhile, experiencing domestic abuse is definitely a failure in building successful family relations. In these and other ways, society engages males to neglect the acts of domestic violence. This insight is supported with the corresponding statistics. It is identified that “only 1-2% of men who are assaulted by their female partners are likely to report the abuse to the police or outside agency”(Pandora’s Project, 2009, p. 4).

Apart from the females’ aggression men experience violence from their male partners. As it was mentioned above, the legislation of gay marriages created more preconditions for the severe males’ domestic abuse. In particular, the legislative basis that protects men in same-sex marriages is not sufficient enough to discourage the cases of domestic violence. Consider the statistics, “within same-sex relationships, from 15-20 per cent (Vickers 1996) to up to 25 per cent (McQuarrie 1995)” men experience domestic offenses (Mulroney & Chan, 2005, p. 5).

Men are rightfully considered to be physically stronger as well as more inclined for control and dominance. These qualities are positively related with the notion of masculinity that is instilled in boys’ mentality by their role models and society. Therefore, whereas, a woman is more likely to apply to instrumental abuse or use violence as a self-defense approach, men are potentially more included to search for dominance. Linking this peculiarity to the unequal disposure of physical power, it is possible to deduce that when a man is assaulted by a woman the negative implications are potentially less serious than when a man is confronted by his male partner. This insight needs to be considered at a state level in order to protect the weaker member of a spouse or family in same-sex relations.

In general, the fact that males’ domestic abuse is not being addressed as seriously as the acts of violence against females can be observed in the police’s reactions towards the assaulted men who dare to claim being assaulted. Consider the example, the research aimed at identifying the reaction of the UK police towards men reporting domestic violence revealed the following findings. In general, 42% of officers believed that the wives of the abused men were the victims. Besides, about 35% of police officers ignored men’s complaints; whereas, in 30% of cases, males were pressurized to leave home (Mays, n. d., p. 7). Furthermore, around 25% of officers ignored the evidence of males’ domestic violence; meanwhile, 33 % of them acknowledged the act of an assault but did nothing to help (Mays, p. 7). Considering this response, it is not surprising that the victimized males are reluctant to report the acts of offense. The risk that they will be ridiculed or not heard is too high.

The above-discussed examples depict the connection between social concept of hegemonic masculinity and the corresponding cultural attitudes that affect the unbiased approaches of governments and society while addressing the issue of domestic violence. Consequently, it is natural to deduce that, by the lack of reaction, both state and community contribute to the deterioration of the domestic abuse on men. The next section is aimed at surveying how the frequency of domestic assaults correlates with the demographic particularities such as males’ age, race, and the level of education, income and social position.

Connection between Men’s Age, and Level of Education, Income, Social Position and the Likelihood of Violence against Them

Denise A. Hines, the professor of Clark University, arranged a number of studies with the purpose to identify the ways in which demographics were connected with the domestic violence against men. First and foremost, it is necessary to state that the connection between these notions is identified to be strong. Consider the case, among the American heterosexual men aged from 18 to 59 the general age of the abused males is 40 (Hines, 2009, p. 6). This information complies with the stated premise that masculinity is reinforced with the growth of experience and social status, which stipulates the strengthening of the confronting forces. Besides, the findings connected with the level of income also support this insight. For example, the abused men reported to earn about $50000 annually, whereas, their abusive intimate partners were claimed to earn around $30000 (Hines, 2009, p. 6). The gap in income between partners can be positively related to the increase likelihood of domestic assaults.       Acknowledging that this conclusion requires further studies; it is appropriate to state that the revealed data supports the premise that masculinity is strengthened within the time, simultaneously, with the growth of man’s achievements. Simply put, a man is considered to be born with the predominant qualities of being physically stronger and his community, in general, still positively responses to ‘hegemonic masculinity’. Thereafter, growing older he obtains more dominance by adding the new qualities to his arsenal. In this regard, it is necessary to clarify that the level of education is not directly included in the scale, but it is possible to presume that older age and better level of income are positively related to higher education. As a result, the growth of strength engages his partner to apply to offensive behavior. It goes without saying that this explanation does not excuse abusive behavior, but it definitely helps understand its primeval causes and, this information can be used to address and eliminate the discussed social issue.

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