Domestic violence against men is a pattern of physically or emotionally abusive behaviors inflicted on a man by a spouse or intimate partner. These behaviors include physical attacks, rape, coercion, and harassment and are used to dominate or control the other partner. Domestic violence against men affects men in heterosexual and same-sex relationships.

Facts about domestic violence against men

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Human Services, an estimated 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually. Perpetrators of domestic violence against men are male and female, with a larger percentage of male offenders in cases of physical or sexual assault.

Male victims of domestic violence are entitled to the same legal protections as female victims. Male victims can petition the court for a protection order that restricts the other partner from harming, harassing, or contacting them. If a man was physically attacked, sexually assaulted, threatened with a weapon, or had property damaged or stolen by an intimate partner, he can file criminal charges.

Issues regarding domestic violence against men

Men are less likely to report domestic violence due to a range of social factors. The need to maintain a masculine image and the sense of shame associated with being a male victim may keep men from speaking up. Male victims may fear they won't be believed or will be mocked by friends or family. There also may be more of a tendency for male victims to keep silent and work it out themselves. In addition, because men are more likely to be financially independent, they may not seek emergency shelter or other forms of support.

If you are a victim of domestic violence

Both federal and state governments have hotlines you can call for immediate assistance. You can explain your situation, find information about programs in your area, and get directions to a shelter, if necessary. Most domestic violence shelters serve men as well as women, or they should be able to direct you to a shelter that serves men, since government programs are required to be gender-neutral.

Additional resources:

National Coalition against Domestic Violence: Male Victims of Violence

U.S. Department of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice: Measuring Intimate Partner Violence

Psychiatric Newspaper of the American Psychiatric Association: Men Shouldn't be Overlooked as Victims of Partner Violence

Related Legal Guides:

The Basics of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Restraining Order