As I became more vocal about my experiences with domestic violence, I discovered that many within my social circle ~ male friends included ~ experienced similar relationships. Unfortunately, male abuse victims experience even further isolation than their female counterparts because they’re less willing to admit that they’re being abused. Body size and strength have NOTHING to do with victimization; if a man learned to not treat women disrespectfully, regardless of how he’s treated, he will refrain from retaliating and is, therefore, vulnerable to exploitation.
In order to change the way we deal with abuse, we must change the way we view abuse. We can’t dismiss, trivialize, ignore, ridicule and expect the issue of domestic violence to simply disappear. Abuse, regardless of the form it takes, is unacceptable. Abuse victims, regardless of their identity, deserve support, understanding, compassion, acceptance and to be taken seriously. Victims don’t ask to be in such situations. The abuse affects their daily lives, often in indescribable ways. The abuse makes victims feel helpless, hopeless, emotionally / physically exhausted, weak, traumatized, emotional, isolated, paranoid, anxious, untrusting, fearful. We, as their friends and relatives, must know what the signs are and prepare to act on our instincts. We must be willing to listen, without judgment and be proactively supportive.
The abusers, NOT the victims, should feel ashamed. The abusers, NOT the victims, should be the ones forced to rebuild their lives, starting with rehabilitation. Abusers, NOT the victims, should be stigmatized, not revered.
When Martha and I created Café Sanctuary, we wanted to raise the awareness that abuse knows no boundaries. Nobody, regardless of age, occupation, race, sexual orientation, religion or gender is immune.
As always, we’re here to help.