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Allen-Collinson, J (2009) A marked man: A case of female-perpetrated intimate partner abuse, International Journal of Men’s Health, 8 (1): 22-40.

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Abstract

Concepts of intimate partner abuse and violence are shifting, complex, situational and multifaceted. Whilst women’s narratives of abuse have provided much needed insights into the subjective experience of intimate partner abuse, men’s accounts of female perpetrated abuse have been slower to emerge, generating much controversy and hostility. This paper seeks to add to a small, but developing qualitative literature on male victims’ accounts of intimate abuse and violence. Drawing on case study data, the article charts some of the salient themes emerging from a series of in-depth interviews and the personal diary of an abused heterosexual male victim. It explores the congruence with elements of other accounts of intimate abuse and violence. The paper concludes with a discussion of the ways in which male victims of intimate abuse might be understood within contemporary frameworks of masculinity.
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Full citation:
Allen-Collinson, J (2009) A marked man: A case of female-perpetrated intimate
partner abuse, International Journal of Men’s Health, 8 (1): 22-40.
Please note: the International Journal of Men’s Health ceased publication in 2016.
If you would like further information about, or a full copy of this article, please
contact me via ResearchGate.
A marked man: A case of female-
perpetrated intimate partner abuse
Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson, PhD
Prof J Allen-Collinson, University of Lincoln, UK; Email: jallencollinson@lincoln.ac.uk /
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A marked man: a case of female-perpetrated intimate partner abuse
Abstract
Concepts of intimate partner abuse and violence are shifting, complex, situationally-contingent and
multi-faceted. Whilst women’s narratives of abuse have provided much-needed, if harrowing, insight
into the subjective experience of intimate partner abuse, men’s accounts of female-perpetrated abuse
have been slower to emerge, generating much controversy and hostility even in contemporary times.
This paper seeks to add to a small, but developing qualitative literature on male victims’ accounts of
intimate abuse and violence. Drawing on case-study data, the article charts some of the salient
themes emergent from a series of in-depth interviews and the personal diary of abuse of a
heterosexual male victim, and explores some of the congruences with other accounts of intimate
abuse and violence. The paper concludes with a discussion of the ways in which male victims of
intimate abuse might be situated within contemporary frameworks of masculinities.
Keywords: intimate partner abuse and violence (IPA&V); domestic violence; male victims; female
perpetrators
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INTRODUCTION
He closes the bedroom door slightly in order to get undressed. His wife interprets
this as slamming the door in her face ... She delivers a full force blow to his face.
It is like a thunderstorm: he sees a panorama of fork lightning, somewhat speeded
up, followed perceptibly later by a searing pain right across his face and a hissing
in his ears. The pain abates, but this hissing does not. His vision becomes blurred.
He pleads to her to stop this. She hits him again. He goes down to the kitchen,
hoping that she will calm down. She is there immediately. She pushes him into a
corner and takes a kitchen knife with an 8” blade from the block. She is now
holding this over-arm, above him, threatening to stick it in him
The above extract is taken from the personal diary
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of a white, middle-aged, senior-professional man
who charted in diary form for a period of two years the abuse to which he was frequently subjected
by his wife; abuse and violence which began over 20 years earlier and subsequently escalated in
both frequency and extent to the point at which he was forced to flee the family home with only a few
clothes and some personal possessions. His diary, together with the transcripts of a series of five
(to-date) in-depth interviews, constitute the case-study data upon which this paper is based. Although
the purpose of this article is not to examine prevalence rates or the gender symmetric/asymmetric
nature of intimate partner abuse and violence, some brief background will nevertheless provide
contextualisation.
As Palin-Davies (2006, p. 11) notes, domestic violence is extremely complex, not only in terms
of its dynamics but also in terms of how, and by/for whom it is presented The ethics of presentation
(Katz Rothman, 2007), and indeed non-presentation are key in this area. A gamut of studies exists,
embracing empirical studies and meta-analyses of empirical research, dating back to the 1970s,
which indicates that intimate partner abuse and violence (IPA&V) are perpetrated by women and girls
in heterosexual relationships as frequently as, or (in some studies) more frequently than they are by
men and boys (for examples see: Morse, 1995; Cook, 1997; Fiebert, 1997; Straus, 1997, 2006;
Archer, 2002; Walby & Allen, 2004; Dutton, 2007) and for very similar reasons (Medeiros & Straus,
1
The diary was deliberately written in the third person in order to reduce the
emotional impact; see discussion on p. 6.
2
2006). Such gender symmetric findings, it should be said, have been strongly challenged and
stingingly critiqued (e.g. Pagelow, 1985; Kimmel, 2002), as have these critiques in their turn.
Quantitative studies in the area of domestic violence in general have been criticised on a variety of
grounds, including methodological issues (Nazroo, 1995
2
), inconsistent use of terminology, reporting
and recording differences, problems with the construction of official statistics, and decontextualisation
of the abuse, for example, by not addressing whether violence was unilaterally initiated or responsive,
in self-defense. Indeed notions of what constitutes “self-defense” are themselves worthy of critical
evaluation, given that violent women often use self-defense as a rationale and justification for inflicting
violence even though they themselves are the perpetrators and not the victims of the abuse
(Sarantakos, 2004). Some researchers argue that IPV is primarily an asymmetrical problem of men's
violence to women, with women's violence to men being less in terms of frequency, severity,
consequences, and the victim's sense of safety and well-being (Dobash & Dobash, 2004), the
perceived degree of threat and danger (Nazroo, 1995) and women’s greater likelihood of being injured
and repeatedly beaten by male partners (Archer, 2002). The gender symmetry\asymmetry debate
continues unresolved, however. In the absence of conclusive data, and on the basis of a substantial
research corpus, it appears that women and men, heterosexual, bisexual, gay (Renzetti & Miley,
1996), and transsexual/transsexed (Brown, 2007) of whatever age, physical ability, socio-economic
and ethnic background, find themselves subject to IPA&V.
Research findings indicating that women are both victims and perpetrators of IPA&V
challenge many previously held conceptualizations and explanations (McHugh & Hanson Frieze,
2006), leading to calls for more in-depth studies into the experiences of male victims, an area in which
relatively little qualitative research has been undertaken (Migliaccio, 2002). There is an even greater
research lacuna in relation to male narratives of abuse, and whilst accounts of female victims and
survivors offer great insight into their experiences (e.g. Lempert, 1994), with notable exceptions (e.g.
Migliaccio, 2002) there is a dearth of men’s narratives in the research literature. As Lempert notes,
2
Nazroo has, however, in turn been criticised for biased sampling methods.
3
narratives demonstrate that abusive relationships have courses, and that victims’ actions within these
relationships can be rational, reasonable, and understandable, for via the analysis of a person’s
experiences, we can make existential sense of violence from an intimate partner (1994, p. 411).
This article explores some of the key themes emergent from the abuse narrative of a white, middle-
class, highly-educated, articulate, professionally successful man, who was in a relationship for over
20 years, which incorporated first psychological and then increasingly physically violent abuse by his
intimate partner.
Similarities and differences between themes identified in accounts by abused women and
men, of whatever sexuality, are also considered at various points in the analysis, for, as Migliaccio
(2002) notes, examining the commonalties shared between abused males and females can assist
researchers in bettering their understanding of the abusive experience in general. This, it should be
emphasized, in no way minimizes or exculpates the appalling incidence of violence against women,
and it certainly does not seek to degender the problem of domestic violence (Berns, 2001). As a
feminist sociologist, gender-related issues are at the forefront of my concerns. Issues surrounding
the use and abuse of power by women in intimate relationships, are eminently worthy of rigorous,
detailed investigation by feminist (and other) scholars, for a lack of empirical research into female-
on-male intimate violence limits greatly our understanding of its nature and processes. Although
open to debate, De Welde (2003) has argued that “hegemonic discourses of women’s powerlessness
are not equipped to deal with power from women” (p. 250), and such hegemonic discourses require
contestation. There are of course discourses around the use/abuse of power by women, for example
in the analysis of female sexual abuse of children (Denov, 2004), and of female relational abuse
(Kelkar, 1992). Indeed, Fitzroy (2001) reminds us that victims of women’s violence include children,
parents, siblings, disabled family members, female/male partners, colleagues, workers and strangers.
In general, however, there is a relative dearth of qualitative research into physical abuse perpetrated
by women upon their intimate partners, especially when unilaterally generated. The purpose of the
article is to focus the analysis at the micro-level; to enter, theoretically speaking, into the social world
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of an intimate relationship characterised by unilateral violence, including sexual violence, as viewed
through the eyes of a heterosexual male victim.
To achieve this, the article is structured as follows. First, the research methods and ethical
issues are portrayed. The analysis then proceeds to examine some of the salient themes emergent
from this particular narrative of abuse before moving on to explore briefly the positioning of male
victims of IPA&V within a contemporary framework of masculinities. For the purposes of this article,
intimate partner abuse (IPA) refers to any abusive act deemed to have the intention/perceived
intention, of generating fear, causing physical injury, intimidation, denigration, disorientation or
emotional pain to the intimate partner. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is used specifically to refer to
any act deemed to have the intention/perceived intention of causing physical injury. Carlson neatly
defines abuse as: “A pattern of behaviors that can be physical, emotional or psychological, verbal, or
sexual that is intended to control or demean” (1997, p. 291); a description apposite to the current
analysis.
TOPICAL LIFE HISTORY APPROACH
The life history approach is particularly well-suited to an in-depth examination of the nexus of social
structures and personal experiences, particularly those of a sensitive and emotionally-charged
nature. Plummer posits a range of advantages of the life history approach, as particularly suited to
discovering the confusions, ambiguities and contradictions played out in everyday experiences
(2001, p. 40); a primary goal of the current study. The approach has also been discussed specifically
in relation to the study of men and masculinities (e.g. Jackson, 1990), and Connell (1991)
recommends the life history in researching masculinity, due to its capacity to link social structures,
collectivities, and institutional changes to an individual’s life. In addition to general research insights,
the benefits to participants have been highlighted, including by Atkinson (1998), who contends that a
life story can be as valuable an experience for the person narrating as it is a successful endeavour
for the researcher. Here, it is perhaps more accurate to write of a “limited topical life history” (Ward,
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1999), given the focus on a specific period and element in an individual’s life history – that of IPA&V.
This was one of the primary aims of the pilot stage of a study; the full project seeks to explore lived-
body experiences of IPA&V, via survivors’ narratives of abuse. The pilot phase involved a series of
in-depth interviews with two male victims. Although the men were unknown to each other, of different
generations (early 30s and mid-50s) and different European nationalities, and from very different
class and occupational backgrounds, the congruence between their narratives and those portrayed
in the literature on female and male IPA&V victims was striking.
To provide analytic consistency and focus, this article is based on a series of five, in-depth
interviews
3
with just one of the pilot participants, as he also made available his personal diary of
abuse, written over a 2-year period towards the end of the abusive relationship, and during which
time the abuse was actually taking place. His narrative of abuse, recorded systematically in the diary,
therefore provides the primary data source for the paper, supplemented by information from his
interviews. Delamont (1992) emphasizes the symbolic significance of pseudonym choice, and “NH”
selected his own. He lived in a relationship, which became increasingly abusive and violent, for over
20 years, including marriage and children, before deciding to leave the relationship only at a point
when he felt in danger of permanent injury from his wife’s violence and had assured himself as far as
possible that she would not abuse their two children. At the time of the interviews, NH was a very
successful professional man in his mid-50s, who had left his wife over 3 years previously and was
living on his own in very modest, rented accommodation, whilst still paying off a considerable
mortgage for the big family home in which his former wife and children continued to live while the
financial details of a protracted divorce settlement were finalised.
In the diary, NH charts in systematic form the events of two years preceding his leaving. A
prologue recounts salient events before the “real-time” entries begin and an epilogue details key
events occurring immediately post departure. In the final year of diary entries, the text is
3
Interviews are on-going but at the time of writing 5 interviews of between 1 and 2
hours had taken place with this particular participant.
6
supplemented by photos, some taken by NH with his home webcam and others by a relative; these
provide a graphic record of both facial and bodily injuries. NH explained that he initially composed
the diary entries in the third person, finding it too emotionally-charged and embarrassing to write in
the first. Subsequently he came to consider that the relative “neutrality” afforded by these techniques
enabled him to bring to bear some analytic distance on a highly stressful situation (c.f. Enosh &
Buchbinder, 2005). NH initiated diary-keeping in order to document the abuse to which he was
subject, as a means of enabling him temporarily to “bracket” the stressful experiences so that he
could “get on with the rest of his life”, as he explained in an interview. At various junctures he even
showed sections of the diary to his wife in an attempt to make her understand the pain and distress
she was causing; she dismissed it as mere rantings. It should therefore be emphasized that it is the
personal narrative of abuse that forms the focus of the analysis here, and from which links are made
with other research. No claims regarding representativeness or generalisability are made for the
topical life history study, as this was not its purpose. As Warrington (2001, p. 367) notes, questions
of “validity” often arise in the context of qualitative research of this kind, and analogously I too believe
that participants were telling me the “truth”, and that this “truth” was borne out by striking similarities
between their accounts and those encountered in the literature from both victims and also
professional workers involved with IPA&V cases.
The personal diary and the transcripts of both men’s interviews were read and re-read as part
of a lengthy process of “indwelling” (Maykut & Morehouse, 1994), to seek empathic understanding of
interviewees’ lived experiences. Observations and responses to both the diary and the interview
process were also noted in analytic memo form, and this aided efforts at boundary maintenance
between the empathic understanding of interviewees, and a wish to avoid colonization of, or merger
with them, seeking a dialogical rather than a monological research relationship (Frank, 2005). Using
thematic content analysis and sensitising concepts, including those derived from the research
literature, the principal emergent themes were identified, compared and contrasted with those
encountered in the literature. It should be emphasized that this article is not a narrative analysis per
7
se, but rather an examination of specific interactional instances within one man’s narrative of intimate
abuse. The thematic analysis necessarily has the effect of fragmenting the endogenous narrative flow
of NH’s diary, but for the purposes of this article, it is the interactional exchanges upon which the
analysis primarily focuses. It is thus more of a realist tale” (Sparkes, 2002), which despite some
limitations, is nevertheless a genre with the power to connect theory to data in a way that, “creates
spaces for participant voices to be heard in a coherent text, and with specific points in mind … data-
rich realist tales can provide compelling, detailed, and complex descriptions of a social world” (p. 55).
ETHICAL CONCERNS
As Langford (2000) powerfully illustrates, the ethical issues involved in researching IPA&V can be
particularly acute, and my paramount ethical concerns cohered around confidentiality, protection of
informants’ anonymity and the minimisation of distress during the research process, en bref,
adherence to an “ethic of care” (Plummer, 2001). The research proposal was approved by the
University ethics committee, and it was agreed with participants that audio and digital recordings of
interviews would be transcribed by the researcher herself to maintain confidentiality. Participants
were assured that all recordings and transcripts would be retained in safe storage, commensurate
with practice in the researcher’s Unit, and that they were free to terminate the interview or withdraw
from the study at any point without need for justification. I remain very grateful for the courage and
openness with which interviewees spoke, and their willingness to discuss such sensitive, personal
issues. Indeed, as Owens (2006) reminds us, resisting abuse, even years after the fact, by speaking
it aloud, is an act of bravery. Further, Brznzy et al (1997) emphasize how participants may experience
nightmares after being interviewed on stressful topics, and on one occasion NH recounted how,
subsequent to an interview, he had a bad nightmare, reliving his wife’s physical attacks. More
encouragingly, however, Langford (2000) notes that interviewees also report advantages to
participation, including catharsis, being given a voice, and gaining a sense of purpose. NH indicated
that these latter two factors were of particular salience to him, together with the potential for something
constructive to emerge from such a highly destructive period of his life, thereby highlighting the
8
importance of his social agency and his stated refusal to perceive himself as a “victim”. Indeed, NH
hardly ever used the term in the interviews and it does not appear once in his diary, despite the fact
that serious physical abuse was perpetrated upon him; “victim” for him connoted negative self-
imagery; an issue that will be reprised in the Discussion.
4
The principal themes emergent from NH’s narrative are portrayed below, with linkages made to those
identified in the research literature, as appropriate. The analysis covers the following areas: 1) defining
physical violence in the intimate context; 2) the pattern of violence, 3) the stigma of abuse; and 4)
reasons for non-retaliation in kind. This is by no means comprehensive coverage of the many themes
that emerged, but word limit restrictions preclude a discussion of other key topics, such as reasons
for staying in the relationship, and fears of public exposure as an abused husband, addressed in
other papers. Although no claims of generalizability are made for this particular study, the final
discussion widens the lens to theoretical generalization, tentatively to explore the positioning of male
victims of IPA&V within a general framework of contemporary masculinities.
DEFINING ABUSE THE COMPLEXITIES AND ROUTINIZATION
Researchers often distinguish between two types of physical abuse: minor and severe (NCFV, 2007).
Minor abuse relates to acts such as shoving, pushing, grabbing or slapping; described as having a
relatively low probability of causing serious physical pain or injury. Severe physical abuse includes
assault that has a relatively high probability of causing serious physical injury or pain: choking, kicking,
hitting with an object, beating up, using a knife or gun against the partner (NCFV, 2007). The
minor/severe distinction may, however, be hard to sustain from the victim’s perspective, given that
abuse categorised as minor may actually result in considerable pain and serious injury. As Regan
et al (2006, p. 38) note in criticism of measuring instruments such as the Conflict Tactics Scales
4
For an excellent discussion of the gender dimensions of narrative reframing of
victimization, see de Welde (2003: 257).
9
(CTS), the outcome of putative minor abuse may be serious, as someone shoving a partner (minor)
could result in greater harm than someone punching a partner (severe). Koss et al (1994) define physical
violence more widely as including acts such as: shoving, slapping, punching, kicking, choking,
throwing, scalding, cutting, smothering, or biting. In addition to all these acts (with the exception of
scalding), NH indicated that he was also subject to hitting - with heavy objects such as guitars, full
beer cans and also with gemstone rings that acted as knuckle-dusters plus poking, prodding,
severe scratching (drawing copious blood), attempts at suffocation with a pillow, and violent pulling
of parts of the body mouth, ears, genitals - which produced bleeding, bruising, and swelling.
The complexity of defining abuse in the intimate context is perhaps exemplified by the
following diary entry, where there is nothing inherently aggressive in the act one of cuddling”. The
interactionist analytic attention to the context-dependency and negotiation of meaning is apposite
here, as the context, intent, and lack of reciprocity transform what might be an affectionate act into
one of aggression and invasiveness. The diary entry follows the recounting of a bout of physical
aggression from NH’s wife:
Then, when he is distressed by the aggression, she turns 180 degrees to feign
comfort attempts at stroking and cuddling which are really only another form
of aggression, invading his space when he needs it to recover. Along with this,
dogged insistence on her part - “I won’t leave you alone until I have had a
cuddle”- this can go on for about two hours until he is emotionally drained and
unable to sleep because of the invasive behaviour.
Unwanted touching and invasion of personal space, termed by Goffman (1976) interpersonal
contamination, have been subject to extensive feminist analysis in the arenas of the home and the
workplace. Extreme examples of interpersonal contamination would include rape or sexual assault
where, as Stephens et al (2005, p. 43) indicate, the victim involuntarily incorporates the perpetrator
into her/his extended self; the depth and enduring nature of the contamination being evidenced by
the victim’s feelings of violation, and also in many cases, of shame, guilt, grief and rage.
The routinization and normalization, even acceptability of IPA&V by both victims and
perpetrators form a salient feature of many accounts. Smartt and Kury (2007, p.1264), for example,
10
reported that a UK survey found that one in five young men and one in 10 young women aged 13-19
considered violence against women to be acceptable. In relation to the non-reporting of “domestic”
incidents, Kury et al’s (2000) international cross-comparative analysis discovered that victims mostly
cited as a rationale for non-reporting that it was not really “that bad”. Alarmingly, Stanko (1985, p. 48)
indicates (in relation to battered women) that abuse is often characterised by victims as the “normal
interaction of intimate couples. Analogously, abused husbands in Migliaccio’s (2002) study portrayed
the normalization and acceptability of violence from their partners, and one interviewee, a martial arts
expert, explained how he failed even to acknowledge that the daily violence to which he was
accustomed was wrong, believing it to be just part of life. The abuser too may rationalize their
actions, downplay their seriousness or deny the violent intent, redefining the situation to disparage
the pain, injury and distress caused. NH indicated how his wife would explain her behaviour to their
two children by saying: Mummy only hits Daddy because he argues with her, or would chide him
with: “it’s only a scratch”, or “it’s just tickling”, as also recorded in the diary:
She now has him in the corner and is scratching his head on both sides with her
nails. Playful tickling she calls it. It stings, oh how it stings. His anger with this
treatment makes him feel physically sick. She insists that she is not hurting him:
this is only affection. Affection that leads to a number of scratches on his face.
Denzin (1984, p. 506) terms such abuse “paradoxical violence” as it combines and often confuses
spurious, accidental, playful, and real violence, so simultaneously communicating more than one
interactional meaning. So, even as NH’s wife inflicted very real corporeal harm on her husband, in
bad faith she denied the violence of her intent, laughing off her actions.
Whilst some abusers proffer apologies and ask for forgiveness subsequent to abusive acts,
many refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing. When asked whether his wife had ever been apologetic
or demonstrated remorse, NH indicated that he recalled only one instance when she had
acknowledged in any way that anything untoward had happened in their relationship:
There was never any sense of that, or remorse, whatsoever, except, probably 3
months after I had left, when she rang to tell me to come home and she said that
she had, she admitted that she’d may be got one or two things wrong. She
didn’t apologise for that, but that was the only statement I ever recall her saying
11
that might acknowledge she’d done anything at all out of the ordinary.
(Interview)
Violent partners often appear to lack empathy for their victim’s feelings, and the consequent anxiety,
stress, pain and ill health generated by their abusive behaviour (Browne & Herbert, 1997), as reflected
on many occasions in NH’s diary, including this entry:
He is lying in bed on Sunday morning feeling ill. His domestic situation is
worrying him and his work situation is worrying him. He is feeling despondent
because of these things. His wife enters the room. “Why are you still in bed?”
“I’m just tired”, he replies. “Yes”, she says, “guilt does make you tired”. She
leaves the room.
THE PATTERN OF VIOLENCE COPING STRATEGIES
In order to live within the parameters of an abusive relationship, victims report developing a range of
coping strategies and tactics. Walker (1985), for example, proposes a cycle of violence comprising
three distinct phases, varying in time and intensity: tension building, acute battering and then loving,
contrite behaviour. The first of these, the tension building stage is when minor battering incidents
occur, which the woman (in Walker’s research) learns to control by various techniques, including
anticipation of her partner’s whims, staying out of the way, self-blame, and never allowing herself to
feel or show anger towards the abuser. In the interviews, NH indicated having employed all these
techniques, and that staying out of the way was a principal means of confrontation avoidance. Sitting
out in his car, sometimes for hours on end, was a well-tried tactic, for example:
He finishes work by 11:30. Phew. Rings three times from the office and twice
from the mobile to see if he can bring anything home in preparation for
Christmas. She tells him off for having been at work. He brings home the turkey
but gets into trouble because there is not the right stuffing at the butcher’s.
Once home, she tells him to “get out of the house” until 17:30, when her parents
are coming round. How does this fit with him never doing anything to help? He
sits in the car on the common for three hours, getting more cold and more tired.
What a way to spend Christmas Eve, he thinks.
Unfortunately, as the literature indicates, attempts at arresting or in some way controlling the
cycle of violence may have the adverse effect of merely delaying or even exacerbating the second
phase - acute battering (Walker, 1985). Analogously to Walker’s abused women, NH found various
techniques of managing his own anger and dealing with the stress and pain, so as not to show any
12
anger towards his wife; a display she would undoubtedly have relished, as discussed below. NH
attended meditation classes where he learnt emotion management, particularly methods for calming
feelings of fear, anger, distress and despair. These techniques, however, proved to be a highly
problematic response to his wife’s violence, which led only to further punishment:
When she is attacking him, he often (usually reflexively) tries to calm himself with
Buddhist meditation techniques that he is learning. This entails clasping the hands
as if in prayer. This infuriates her as she claims that he is being facetious, praying
at her. Universally this leads to his being belted again. It is unfortunate that it is
reflexive with him because he is belted before he can stop it.
As Walker (1985) identifies, a further means of coping with abusive relationships is self-blame,
with victims employing placatory techniques to appease their abusers and reduce the potential for
conflict, even to the extent of asking what they have “done wrong” to provoke the violence. The son
of an abused husband in Sarantakos’ (2004) study, for example, described a pattern in his mother’s
unilateral violence where she would attack her husband usually completely out of the blue, leaving
him to ask what he had done to deserve it. When asked as to what attempts he made to halt the
violence, NH indicated that on many occasions he sought to ascertain what he had done wrong,
and even to identify what he might do differently to improve matters. The standard response would
be to commence a well-known, oft-played, circular game where his wife would retort along the lines
of: “Don’t you know? Are you really so stupid?” or, “Well, if you don’t know that, you really are
insensitive!”. Any attempt at reasoned discourse would be met with anger at being “lectured at”, or
“how dare you speak to me like one of your students!”, often further degenerating into more
aggressive verbal abuse and subsequent violence.
THE EFFECTS AND STIGMA OF INTIMATE ABUSE
It appears that one of the central reasons for victims’ - whether female or male, heterosexual, Lesbian
(West, 2002), or gay (Renzetti & Miley, 1996) - under-reporting of IPV to the police, social services
or to friends and family, is the stigma, embarrassment and even culpability often associated with this
form of abuse. A study of male victims by Gadd et al (2002) found that few men reported their
13
experiences of “domestic abuse to the police, with fear of disbelief and lack of service provision
highlighted as key reasons, compounding the experience of abuse. In addition to the rationales
reported by women, for men it might be argued that the requirements of contemporary hegemonic
masculinity (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005) strongly censure male victimization by women, so that
any admission that a man has been beaten up by his wife is an admission that one is not “really” a
man (Freeman, 1979). As George (2003) also indicates, men’s reporting of violence, including abuse
within the intimate dyad, may be highly constrained by a milieu of non-acceptance and social
exclusion experienced by many victimised males. This can serve to exacerbate the shame and fear
of stigmatization so that men, like women, routinely attempt to conceal injuries from others, or give
false explanations for visible wounds and injuries, as exemplified by two entries in NH’s diary:
At work he is yet again questioned about his facial cuts and bruising. He again
blames the dog. One of his colleagues seriously suggests that he should have the
dog put down. There is a hint of anger in his voice as he says so.
More beatings tonight and facial bleeding and cuts ready for his senior
management away day tomorrow. He is finding it increasingly difficult to blame
the dog (to others) for all of his increasingly common facial injuries.
Being in a high profile job required of NH regular attendance at social functions as part of his
occupational role. Having to face large audiences in a state of exhaustion and bearing the visible
evidence of his wife’s assaults compounded the stress of an already challenging situation. The taboo
against the public visibility of the stigma of battered men’s wounds and injuries has been noted in the
literature (e.g. George, 2002), and this knowledge can be used by violent women as a threat of public
exposure and humiliation. The quote below follows on from an incident in which NH’s wife over-
balanced whilst attacking him:
She picks herself up and fists him in the face... He goes upstairs to get out of the
way. She follows, scratches, pokes, thumps and what he hates most now, puts
both of her hands inside his mouth and pulls it open further than it will naturally
go. By midnight he has a blood blister on the inside of his upper lip, a black eye
and scratches to his face. By 3:00 am she wakes him to complain of her
blindness as a result of hitting her head on the sofa. She is violent with him
again and he goes to sleep on the floor in the next room in only his dressing
gown. She eventually retreats to her own room. He hears the 5:00 news on the
radio before he falls asleep. She wakes him again at 7:15. He has had five hours
14
sleep, his face is stinging and he has to go and face an audience of 1,000. He
cries on his way to work. He HATES his life. (emphasis in original)
In addition to the abuse per se, the lack of comprehension as to why it is occurring and how
it might be avoided all contribute to a highly stressful situation that can be manifested in physical and
psychological ill health, in addition to wounds and scars - literally the stigma of abuse. In relation to
male victims, Brogden & Harkin (2000, p. 42) cite destruction of self-confidence and self-esteem,
demoralisation, depression, suicidal impulses, nervous breakdown and mental instability, with sleep
deprivation ranked as probably the most pervasive form of abuse. Indeed, the use of sleep deprivation
appears frequently within NH’s diary, as quoted above and also:
She will often come into his bedroom after he has gone to bed (sometimes after
he has gone to sleep) for a chat. This is often acrimonious and intrusive and
sometimes lasts until gone 2:00 in the morning. His tiredness makes work the next
day difficult. He finds this all extremely disorientating…
As Williams (2007, p. 148) notes, depriving one’s partner of sleep is a way in which power relations
are re/constituted in and through the control of sleep, rendering the sleep-deprived person highly
vulnerable. Analogies can be made with the use of sleep deprivation in other contexts as an
instrument of interrogation, punishment or torture, and the systematic use of sleep deprivation
constitutes a key component of the intimate terrorism pattern of abuse (Johnson & Ferraro, 2000),
actively used to disorientate, tire out and disempower one’s partner. Furthermore, insisting on
sleeping together in the same bed, as NH’s wife often did against his wishes, constitutes another form
of interpersonal contamination” (Goffman, 1976) and an unhappy reversal of the usual connotation
of sleeping together as symbolic of love, intimacy and trust:
She allows him to bed at 12:30, insisting that she sleep in the same bed. She wakes
him twice in the night by prodding him, and she is awake by 5:30. He has had five
hours broken sleep and he is exhausted. He complains to her about this and she
hits him full on the face again. She also tries to suffocate him with a pillow. He
goes to the bathroom. He has a sore jaw, a black eye and a large bruise on his leg.
On the motorway, he feels himself nodding. He pulls into a service station and
dozes. He wakes an hour and a half later. He has missed the start of the meeting,
but he is too tired to contribute anyway. He just can’t cope with this pattern to his
life.
15
Indeed, as Pearson (1997) notes, the results of deliberate sleep deprivation may lead not only to
exhaustion and illness but to professional and economic loss, as victims may find themselves
reprimanded at work or even fired from jobs due to their repeated late arrival.
REAL MEN DON’T HIT BACK” REASONS FOR NON-RETALIATION
Given the greater size, weight and muscular strength of men on average in comparison to women,
the physical strength of (able-bodied) men is often assumed sufficient to protect them from serious
physical harm perpetrated by women, and to ensure that most can walk away from any physically
abusive relationship (Pagelow, 1985, p.186). As Hollander (2001) notes, such ideas are based in
part on culturally-shared beliefs regarding gendered bodies, so that female bodies are believed to be
inherently vulnerable because of their smaller average size and perceived lack of strength. Male
bodies, in contrast, are seen as potentially dangerous because of their larger size, greater strength,
and potential use as a tool of sexual violence. As Roth & Basow (2004, p 246) point out, however,
women are not necessarily “naturally” weaker or at least weaker to the extent commonly believed.
Yet the mythical construction of women’s weakness often goes unchallenged, even by some feminist
researchers. Even though on average men are bigger and stronger than women, biological-
reductionist accounts do not of course explain the deployment of physical violence, which is
dependent upon a range of cultural, social and psychological factors, not least an individual’s mind-
set and willingness to resort to violence as an interactional strategy. Also, objects or potentially lethal
weapons may be used as equalizers (c.f. Pagelow 1985, p. 179) by physically smaller or weaker
individuals.
Nevertheless, the question remains as to why NH, a physically-fit, well-built and muscular
man, did not retaliate in kind to his wife’s physical aggression. The literature provides a range of
responses, three of which are particularly salient here: patriarchal ideology, fear of being labelled as
the abusive partner, and fear of exacerbating an attack. First, in relation to patriarchal ideology, as
Graham-Kevan (2007, p. 4) notes, consistent with historical conceptions of male chivalry are
16
contemporary Western discourses of strong condemnation of male violence against women. It is thus
socialised into many men from a young age that a real man should never under any circumstance
hit a woman, whatever the provocation. As a judge in Mirchandani’s (2006, p. 791) study told a man
accused of domestic violence, no matter what his wife did, hitting her would not be manly, civilized
or lawful. Analogously, as an abused husbands in Migliaccio’s study explained, with awful irony: It
had been thoroughly beaten into me as a child that ‘real men don’t ever hit women”’ (2002, pp. 34-
35). In the interviews, NH indicated that his primary socialisation too had engendered an abhorrence
of resort to physical violence, especially toward women; his father in particular had articulated that
such an act would be deplorable.
A second reason for non-retaliation is gendered labelling in that if a man responds to female
violence by behaviour in kind, even in self-defense, his behaviour is more susceptible to labelling as
“wife abuse” than is hers to “husband battering’’ (Freeman, 1979). Sarantakos (2004) found that
some abusive wives calculatedly threatened to report their husbands to the police for assaults they
had never actually committed, exacerbating the abused husbands’ feelings of fear and
powerlessness; a fear reflected in other research where violent wives/partners called or threatened
to call the police, knowing that the latter would be unlikely to believe a man claiming to be the victim
of a woman’s assault (e.g. George, 1994). Similarly, husbands in Migliaccio’s (2002) study
concluded that if they struck their wife in self-defense, any visible scars or bruises would convince
others that the man was the initiator of the violence. This rationalisation for non-retaliation emerged
strongly from NH’s diary and interviews; he too indicated that retaliation by force, even displaying
anger at the abuse, attempting to push his wife away or raising his arms to protect himself, permitted
his wife subsequently and triumphantly to claim (which she frequently did) that he was the violent
one:
He holds his arms up against his chest to defend himself. She loses her balance
and falls back, hitting her head on the sofa. She accuses him of hitting her. This
is significant as he is now [deemed to be] the violent party in the relationship. He
has been waiting for this moment that she will injure herself as a result of him
defending himself and then he will become the guilty one. This point is now
reached. Throughout the rest of the evening, she is saying that he is the violent
17
one in the relationship or at best he is as violent as her. He cannot live with this
new set of accusations. She will destroy him totally with her deceit if this carries
on. [My comments in parentheses]
Fear of exacerbating an attack is a third reason for non-retaliation with force. Dobash &
Dobash (1984) found that women responded in a variety of ways to physical abuse, for example:
reasoning, crying, shouting, pushing their attacker away, and hitting back, which latter response in
the main served only to increase the violence. This escalation response was also noted by Migliaccio
(2002), encapsulated in the words of one interviewee, who gave up restraining his wife from attacking
him because : If I stopped her, she would get more upset and she would do it some more. So I just
had to let her do it…” (p. 34). Similarly, NH explained that despite the pain and injury he suffered, he
almost welcomed the physical abuse as the culmination of a bout of his wife’s aggression, and just
wanted “to get it over and done with”. The physical assault came almost as relief in contrast to the
increasing tension and stress of psychological abuse with the pervasive threat of imminent physical
violence.
The themes portrayed above represent just some of those identified in the case study data;
other more psychological and emotional forms of control and abuse emerged clearly, and seemed to
be employed by NH’s wife as part of what Johnson & Ferraro (2000) term the “intimate terrorism
pattern of abuse”, a pattern (rather than isolated incidences) motivated by a desire for “coercive
control” and “microregulation” (Stark, 2006, p. 1021-22) of a partner’s everyday life. The above
analysis of NH’s account of abuse, does, however, throw into relief some interesting issues
surrounding masculinity, which will briefly be examined.
DISCUSSION: ABUSED MEN AND MASCULINITIES
Whilst this paper reports on pilot stage findings from a single case study, salient themes emerged
from the data, and are suggestive of some cautious theoretical generalization. In relation to
exemplary masculinity (Connell, 1995), male victims of IPA&V might be expected to struggle both
internally and externally with maintaining a masculine ideal (Migliaccio, 2001). Victimization,
18
particularly in relation to physical abuse, seems so deeply coded as a female experience in
contemporary Western society, that a man who finds himself victimized is “feminized” in cognitive
evaluations (Howard & Hollander, 1996, p. 86). Such stereotypical gender constructions may lead to
disbelief, insensitivity, even ridicule and hostility on the part of legal and health care professionals in
relation to a man’s claim to be physically abused (Macchieto, 1992).
Such feminization may apply not only to others’ assessment of the male victim but also to
his own construction of personal identity. From a symbolic interactionist perspective, a distinction
has been made between social identities and personal identities (Snow & Anderson, 1995). Social
identities are defined as those we attribute or impute to others, situating them as social objects,
whilst personal identities refer to the meanings attributed to the self and developed over time in the
interactional context. Consonant with interactionist perspectives, these identities are not static, but
contingent, situated, processual, fluid and changing, as indeed are masculinities and femininities
themselves. Furthermore, social and personal identities can of course be oppositional. In the case of
a male victim of IPA&V considerable identity work (Snow & Anderson, 1995) may be required to
maintain an acceptable masculine social and personal identity, particularly when sustained attempts
are made by an intimate significant other to discredit this identity (Allen-Collinson, 2008) as was the
case with NH’s marital relationship. Feelings of low self-esteem noted in the literature on abused
women (e.g. Lempert, 1994) are echoed in the accounts of abused men, where verbal humiliation,
debasement and degradation are regularly and frequently cited (Migliaccio, 2002). Indeed, NH’s diary
entry testifies to the erosionary effects of such litanies of criticism and abuse from his wife:
“You are a useless parent” she tells him constantly.
“You are a useless cook” she says,
“You’re abysmal at washing, cleaning, domestic chores”
“You’re useless in so many different ways”.
She has been singing this anthem for so long that he believes it… His self-worth
has all but disappeared…
In an attempt to avoid threats of emasculation, an abused man may refrain from expressing
his fears, asking for help or even discussing the situation with others. In an attempt to escape the
19
spoiled identity (Goffman, 1972) of male victim, and to maintain face, some abused men may
exhibit outward disregard for the physical violence inflicted upon them, attempting to laugh off or deny
the seriousness of their partner’s aggression and its visible manifestations, particularly in front of
other men. George (1994) questions whether such denial is an attempt to escape stigmatization by
using self-directed humour, noting that men may view violence towards them and the resulting injuries
with little overt concern, whilst experiencing inward trauma, all because of the need to deny a sense
of vulnerability. Whilst there has been some excellent work theorising linkages between masculinities
and power, there is also a countervailing need to address and theorise more fully men’s experiences
of vulnerability and powerlessness (c.f. Seidler, 2006), including within intimate relationships. Within
the literature, one of the salient effects of an ideology of chivalric masculinity appears to be that
many abused men are determined not to retaliate in kind to a female partner’s violence. For some
men, as reflected above in NH’s account, hitting a woman, even in retaliation or self-defense, would
appear to run so strongly counter to deep-ingrained notions of a certain masculinity as to be entirely
unacceptable, even in situations of extreme danger. The prevalence of such chivalric attitudes,
which sit alongside other very different forms of contemporary masculinity that condone, valorise or
even prescribe the use of force and violence against women (and other groups such as gay men), is
certainly worthy of further research.
Given that this article presents qualitative data from one specific case study of a male victim,
the findings must remain tentative and necessarily limited in generalizability. It is hoped, however,
that this study in a small way begins to address a gap in the literature on male experiences of IPA&V,
and provides a starting point for further investigation utilizing qualitative approaches. In terms of the
invisibility/inaudibility of men’s narratives of IPA&V, it has been suggested that one of the main
reasons why the issue of male victimisation at the hands of an intimate female partner is accorded
relatively scant academic attention is the threat it poses to masculine self-images and patriarchal
authority, including within academia. The acknowledgement of unilateral male victimization by a
female intimate would challenge the contemporary normative gender order, and as George (1994, p.
20
148) points out, is an equality between the sexes that has been resisted historically, especially by
men. From this perspective, recognition of any degree of gender symmetry in terms of IPA&V
victimization might be expected to generate disquiet and outcry. Such research neglect of men’s
“hidden” narratives (Allen-Collinson, 2008) of victimisation by female intimate partners, however,
leaves uncontested, and indeed serves to reinforce two populist stereotypes and hegemonic
discourses: of female weakness/vulnerability/passivity and male strength/invincibility/aggression;
stereotypes that feminist (and other) researchers have long sought to contest and critique.
Word count (excluding abstract and references): 7,511
21
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... The existence and discourse of male victimisation challenges traditional gender stereotypes generally, but especially so when victimisation results from female-perpetrated sexual violence (Davies et al., 2006;Allen-Collinson, 2009;Fisher and Pina, 2013). Not only do such actions and experiences confront long-held social and cultural values and norms, contradicting typical definitions of both masculinity and femininity, they often lead to diminished victim-reporting, and subsequent support, due to victims' intense fears of disbelief, stigma and ostracism (Schippers, 2007;Fisher and Pina, 2013;Davies, 2013). ...
... Debate regarding the prevalence of and serious harms associated with sexual and physical abuse has been long and protracted (Allen-Collinson, 2009;DeKeseredy and Dragiewicz, 2009;Venalainen, 2020), with research and advocacy often separated into two schools of thought, gendered perspectives set against gender-neutral approaches. As Allen-Collinson (2009: 23) notes in the context of intimate partner abuse, regardless of sexual identity, age, physical ability, race, or gender, it is clear that physical and sexual violence and intimate abuse can happen to anyone. ...
... This has substantial implications for criminology and for victims, as both female offending and male victimisation are often viewed as counterintuitive (Davies, 2013;Ballman et al., 2016). The stigma of female passivity, in particular, has severely constrained men's claims of victimisation, as female sexual violence is perceived as 'less harmful' (Allen-Collinson, 2009;Stathopoulos, 2014: 3). This stems from strong gender stereotypes that suggest women are 'innocent', 'warm' and 'caring', and innately driven to nurture others (Allen-Collinson, 2009;Hayes and Carpenter, 2013: 161). ...
Article
In the era of #metoo, conversations regarding rape and sexual violence have received increased attention in mainstream media, giving voice to some of the many victims impacted by sexual assault. Despite the significant social upheaval this movement has given credence to, male victims of female-perpetrated sexual assault remain largely absent from Australian media. Adherence to strict representations of masculinity and femininity, often reinforced on social media, has resulted in cultural omission and problematic characterisations of both offenders and victims. International research has examined socially-constructed, gendered perceptions; however, Australian literature remains limited. This study examined what factors influence perceptions of male victims of female-perpetrated sexual violence, evaluated through Christie’s (1986) Ideal Victim/Offender framework. This mixed-method study analysed social media users’ comments on incidents of female-perpetrated sexual assault on men, presented in 28 Facebook posts, across 13 popular Australian newspapers. The findings identified a tendency of users to question victims’ masculinity, downplay harms experienced by male victims, or deny victimisation entirely. Furthermore, women were typecast as ‘fragile nurturers’ who did not have the capacity to offend, rejecting the possibility of male victims. Conclusions highlight the need for further Australian-based research and practical support, as male victims are more than simply an online myth.
... Unsurprisingly, given the relative recency in research terms of the recognition of men's victimization, there remains a paucity of research examining how male victims of IPV respond to and seek support for their victimization (Allen-Collinson, 2009;Dim, 2020). A body of literature exploring the experiences of men victimized by female partners is starting to emerge. ...
... Indeed, while a victim label has important implications for access to support, it can also construct individuals as weak, passive and trapped (Overstreet & Quinn, 2013). In the context of a masculinity narrative, the inferred synonymy between victim and weakness may be even more salient for male victims (Allen-Collinson, 2009;Corbally, 2015;Melton, & Sillito, 2012;Venäläinen, 2020). Studies have consistently shown men being blamed more for their victimization than women Sorenson & Taylor, 2005;Yamawaki et al., 2018). ...
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Evidence suggests that male victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) are less likely to seek help for their victimization than female victims. Studies exploring barriers to help seeking are relatively scarce in the United Kingdom (UK) and those that have been undertaken across Europe, United States, Canada, and Australia have tended to rely on small samples of help-seeking men who have self-identified as victims of IPV. With a view to include more male victim voices in the literature, an anonymous qualitative questionnaire was distributed via social media. In total, 147 men (85% from the UK) who self-identified as being subject to abuse from their female partners, completed the questionnaire. The data was subjected to a deductive thematic analysis and one superordinate and two overarching themes were identified. The superordinate theme was stigmatized gender and the two overarching themes (subthemes in parentheses) were barriers prohibiting help seeking (status and credibility, health and well-being) and responses to initial help seeking (discreditation, exclusion/isolation, and helpfulness). The findings are discussed in the context of Overstreet and Quinn’s (2013) interpersonal violence and stigma model and findings from previous research. The conclusions and recommendations promote education and training and advocate a radical change to policy.
... This aligns with the observation on the domination of masculine norms and gender roles that define boys and men as active agents and girls and women as objects of harassment and of protection. The young men's narratives also align with the studies that have explained the incompatibility of masculinity and victimhood (Allen-Collinson, 2009;Venäläinen, 2020). While there were some cases in which the young men positioned themselves as targets of the initiatives and sexual acts of women (e.g. ...
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In this article, we examine young people's narratives on sexual harassment on how it is endured, objected, observed, and negotiated in diverse everyday life environments. The article is based on an analysis of thematic interviews with 36 young people aged 15–19 living in the metropolitan area of Helsinki, Finland. Altogether 23 young women and 13 young men participated in the interviews which were conducted at educational institutions as individual, paired or group interviews. We analyze young people's narratives on sexual harassment as stories of everyday citizenship and, and more precisely, as acts of citizenship. We have also applied the concept of respectability to study how young women and men construct respectable sexual citizenship. We found out that whereas female respectability suggests that young women should be able to protect their sexual integrity effectively, male respectability expects young men to effectively balance between different positions of masculinity. While young people widely condemn sexual harassment and recognize it as discrimination, the gendered ways of constructing respectability, however, maintain the moral double standard by which young women remain the gatekeepers of sexual consent and young men test its boundaries.
... These comparable rates have sometimes been interpreted as women's use of violence having the same effect, reasons, and motives as men's use of violence. However, these interpretations have been criticized for decontextualizing women's and men's experience of IPV (Allen-Collinson, 2009). ...
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We examine gendered patterns in the use of violence in response to the partner's violence (“fighting back”). Within each gender, we examined if socio-demographic differences in prevalence were present, and if contextual factors influenced the use of violence against a violent partner. Data from a large, population-based sample of New Zealand adults was used to identify ever-partnered respondents who had experienced physical IPV ( n = 407 women, and n = 391 men). Weighted percentages and 95% confidence intervals (95%CIs) were calculated for the use of violence against a violent partner, stratified by gender. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the association between each contextual risk factors and the use of violence against a violent partner. For both men and women, at the multivariable level, use of violence against a violent partner was associated with contextual factors related to the abuse. However, for almost all of these variables a higher proportion of women than men experienced the risk factor; for example, a higher proportion of women than men reported having experienced severe IPV (57.6% women; 43.7% men), injuries resulting from IPV (44.5% women, 15.0% men), and fear of a partner (22.7% women, 4.9% men). Women were also more likely to report experiencing other types of IPV (particularly sexual IPV) and were more likely to report that their children were present at the time of violence. These factors contributed to the higher proportion of women who reported fighting back at least once (53.4% of women and 22.3% of men). Health, social, and legal services need to conduct appropriate and thorough assessment of nature and context (current and historical) of the violence that individuals have been exposed to as part of service provision. Assessments need to be carried out with a gender-lens in order to provide comprehensive and appropriate responses.
... Hegemonic masculinity refers to socially constructed perceptions of manliness, including stereotypical characteristics of strength, aggression, power, and dominance in relationships (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). Internal barriers, including men's adherence to hegemonic masculinity norms such as self-reliance and stoicism (Allen-Collinson, 2009;Tsui et al., 2010) may also prevent help-seeking. In addition, victimization might be seen to threaten masculinity, because it takes men into a symbolic space of femininity, which intensifies shame and self-blame that deter men from help-seeking (Machado et al., 2017). ...
Article
Research has shown that male victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) are less likely than women to seek formal and informal help. Studies have identified internal barriers (e.g., shame) and external and structural barriers (e.g., limited availability of services), rooted in hegemonic masculinity norms, that explain this underutilization of help. There is also evidence of recent changes in the cultural understanding of masculinity, but these new insights have yet to be incorporated in theories of male IPV and related help-seeking. The purpose of the present study was to obtain a deeper understanding of the help-seeking decisions, barriers, and facilitators of formal and informal help-seeking among male IPV victims. In-depth interviews were conducted with a community sample of 17 Israeli men who self-identified as having been subjected to IPV. Thematic analysis revealed that help-seeking decisions were shaped by a lack of awareness of the need for help, expected outcomes of help-seeking, and actual help-seeking attempts, which together created both barriers and facilitators. Three barriers were identified; they were related to masculinity ideals, failure to recognize victimization, and family values. In addition, three facilitators of help-seeking were identified; they were related to recognizing victimization, access to online social networks, and the fatherhood role. The findings indicate that the barriers and facilitators were interrelated, reflecting the interlocking changing social constructs of masculinity, victimization, and family values. These research findings may contribute to the development of strategies to encourage help-seeking behaviors, such as gender-inclusive education and training of practitioners in IPV services.
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Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a health problem affecting people of all genders and other social locations. While IPV victimization of cis-gendered women has been widely researched, how men conceptualized or experience IPV victimization, and the variations in their experiences of IPV, has not been thoroughly examined. In this critical review of men’s experiences of IPV, an extensive search of peer reviewed literature was conducted using multiple database (Cochrane database, MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase, PsycgINFO, and Google Scholar) as well as the gray literature. We critically reviewed examining the conceptual foundations of IPV victimization among men. The influence or gender roles and societal expectation on men’s experiences and perceptions of IPV victimization and their help-seeking behavior are explored. Current knowledge about types, tactics, and patterns of IPV against men and the health and social consequences of IPV are addresses. Additionally, the conceptual and empirical limitations of current research are discussed, including the tendency to compare only the prevalence rates of discrete incidents of abuse among women versus men; the use of IPV measures not designed to capture men’s conceptualizations of IPV; and the lack of attention given to sex and gender identity of both the victim and perpetrator. Future research priorities that address these limitations and seek to strengthen and deepen knowledge about IPV among men are identified.
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This chapter will examine the experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) for older adults. The experiences of older adults have been absent from many IPV studies as most of the focus has been placed on the needs of younger women. As a result, little is known about the experiences of older adults in abusive relationships and the effectiveness of the response from healthcare professionals. Health care professionals are on the front line and are in a unique position to identify, assess, and intervene for older adults who are experiencing some forms of violence. This chapter will utilize a narrative method, to interview health care professionals on their perspective of IPV and its impact on older adults.
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Madinah House, a temporary shelter, was founded in 1999 in Trinidad to respond to the needs of battered women and their children who, having escaped their abuse, were forced to deal with practical issues such as housing and safety. In 2019, after having housed more than 1200 clients and their children, the shelter was closed due to insufficient funding to manage its daily expenses and to complete outstanding repair work on its building. This chapter provides information on the day-to-day operations of Madinah House, and, in so doing, contributes to an under-researched area related to gender-based violence in the Caribbean, i.e. safe houses. The two authors, former board members, follow a narrative approach in examining individual client files, journals, and letters, and conducting interviews with former shelter managers. Findings document the 20-year contribution of Madinah House and deepen the understanding of the circumstances of battered women, and the key interventions which afford them support.
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This chapter examines the financial hardships faced by domestic violence survivors in the small island state of Trinidad and Tobago. Utilizing the theoretical framework of post-colonial feminist theory which focuses on the textures of everyday life to understand race, gender, and sexuality (Piedalue and Rishi 2017). This chapter is a case study of Rose and her lived experience of domestic violence during her marriage. It examines her understanding of what domestic violence means within her cultural context of the Caribbean. Combined with inadequate and often ineffective, social support systems and legislation many survivors encounter. Findings indicate Rose’s understanding of domestic violence does not include financial abuse, her cultural understanding of her gender role identity made her susceptible and vulnerable to incidents of domestic violence and, there was limited social support from government social programmes. Implications are more policies and social programmes need to educate the public about financial abuse and provide adequate support.
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The notion of intimate partner violence (IPV) as gender-based has been widely questioned by advocates of antifeminist men’s rights movements, who have claimed that societal disregard for men’s victimization in intimate relations is a central component of discrimination against men in contemporary societies. Similar views have been expressed by researchers as part of a gender-neutral discourse articulated in opposition to feminist, or gender-sensitive, understandings of IPV. To date, the views of helping professionals who work with IPV in terms of men’s victimization have been underexplored. This study traces the discursive process of problem construction concerning gender and IPV in social and crisis workers’ (N=21) talk about men’s victimization through focus group interviews conducted in Finland. The analysis shows that social and crisis workers’ sense-making closely aligns with talk about men’s victimization by men’s rights advocates; they construct and justify men’s victimization in intimate relations as a pressing societal concern in ways that both posit gender-specific normative conceptions as a significant, oppressive context for men victims and simultaneously obscure gendered structural inequalities by advocating gender-neutral understandings and solutions for IPV. The analysis highlights challenges in attending to IPV with a gender-sensitive approach in the context of widespread politicization of men’s victimization.
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Despite numerous studies that report the preponderance of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women, other empirical studies suggest that rates of domestic violence by women and men are equivalent. This article explores these claims of gender symmetry in intimate partners' use of violence by reviewing the empirical foundations of the research and critiquing existing sources of data on domestic violence. The author suggests methods to reconcile the disparate data and encourages researchers and practitioners to acknowledge women's use of violence while understanding why it tends to be very different from violence by men toward their female partners.
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This article presents ethnographic research on a women's self-defense course and proposes that socially available gender narratives of white femininity are potentially disempowering and victimizing to,women. Changes in self-narratives as a result of the course reflect a more powerful self that challenges dominant discourses. The process illustrated in this article consists of refraining victimization, liberating the self and enabling the body in a transformation of gender and self-narratives that affirm "femininity" while subverting its defining ideologies. What results is a physical agency within which narratives about femininity are reinterpreted and reembodied as powerful instead of vulnerable.
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Critically exploring the ways in which men and masculinities are commonly theorized, this multidisciplinary text opens up a discussion around such relationships, and shows that, as with feminisms, there is a diversity of theoretical traditions. It draws on a variety of examples, and explores new directions in the complexities of diverse male identities and emotional lives across different histories, cultures and traditions. This book: considers the experiences of different generations, explores connections between masculinity and drugs, investigates men and masculinities in a post-9/11 world, considers new ways of thinking about male violence, recognizes the importance of culture and provides spaces to explore different class, 'race' and ethnic masculinities. Written in a practical, versatile manner by an established author in this field, it points to new directions in thinking, and makes essential reading for advanced undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers in the fields of sociology, gender studies, politics, philosophy and psychology.
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Women who enact violence, by their very existence, pose a number of challenges for feminist theory, direct service practice and policy development and delivery in the human service sector. This article presents a number of issues on violent women that emerged from a series of focus groups and individual interviews with human service workers.1 The article explores the theoretical, practice and policy issues which were identified by workers. It begins from a position of honouring the knowledge and skills of workers, while not seeking to offer definitive conclusions as to appropriate service responses to women who are violent. The article suggests that future theoretical engagements and policy responses to violent women could benefit from critical engagement with the many issues raised by workers.
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The empirical and clinical research conducted furing the past ten years on the psychological impact of domestic violence is reviewed for its application to the expected reaction of battered women to the criminalization of their abuse. It has been found that the victims experience severe situational stress reactions which can be diagnosed as a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, subcategory, Battered Women Syndrome. High levels of anxiety, fears and panic attacks, depression, and other clinical symptoms are visible including a hypervigilance to cues of further impending violence. Individual acute battering incidents are spontaneously mentally reexperienced, usually when exposed to a familiar stimulus. The process of learned helplessness which occurs when there is non-contingency between a response and the expected outcome, as typically occurs during the three phase battering cycle, can be measured using empirically determined factors. Traditional psychometric measures are inadequate to assess the psychological impact of living with violence. It is suggested that battered women will benefit from the new mandatory arrest upon probable cause procedures adopted by police departments if there is follow through with arrests and prosecutions. Post-adjudicated diversion treatment programs for the abusers may have a beneficial impact for the victim, also. A research project to evaluate the Denver, Colorado program is discussed as are other research suggestions.