How about the Battered Husbands?

Manila Bulletin, October 1, 2003 | Go to article overview

How about the Battered Husbands?


Byline: Rolando V. Dela Rosa, O.P.

THE Kris-Joey controversy reinforces the myth that domestic violence happens only to wives, never to husbands. Spousal abuse has become synonymous to wife beating. Stories about battered husbands are often met with laughter and disbelief. Their sad plight is completely ignored by the media and society.

Spousal abuse does not always involve severe bodily injuries or bruises. A battered spouse is controlled and terrorized by a combination of subtle and abusive tactics that are not always physical. It can be psychological (instilling fear by intimidation), emotional (withholding love, money, security, food), sexual (criticizing a spouses desirability, sexual mistreatment or abuse), or verbal (derogatory remarks, eloquent silence, or accusation of infidelity).

For sure, women can also inflict these on their husbands. In fact, the National Family Violence Survey, one of the largest and most respected studies on family violence conducted in America in 1975 and again in 1985 showed that husbands are just as likely to be the victims of spousal violence as wives.

But why is it that practically nobody talks about battered husbands? First, men in general are extremely reluctant to report spousal abuse to authorities for fear of public ridicule. To confess being brutalized by a woman seems to diminish ones manliness. In 1991, a male participant in a TV talk show described how his wife repeatedly attacked him using lethal weapons. The audiences reaction: laughter and derision.

Second, our culture has stereotyped the woman as less aggressive, and therefore, incapable of inflicting serious harm on her husband. …

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