It is a myth that men do not experience physical violence from partners. Physical abuse, like other forms of abuse, is often a tactic used to control. Those who use physical violence will do so if it is an effective form of abuse to use. It is a way of policing or controlling your behaviour. If more subtle forms of emotional abuse do not achieve what the abuser wants to achieve, or if they lack the emotional intelligence to be emotionally abusive, they may resort to violence.
Despite what some people might think, it is not usually a loss of control. Rather, it can be both controlled and controlling. It is usually aimed at areas of the body which can be concealed by clothing so no one else can see the injuries. Where there have been injuries to more exposed parts of the body for example; face neck and hands, the abuser expects you to make an excuse to explain it away. This can be humiliating, having to explain to friends/family/colleagues an obvious injury that you know was caused by your partner, hiding abuse in plain sight. The abuser can then rely on the threat of future violence as a means of control – any future incidents exist in the shadows of the worst incident.
Physical violence can include, but is not limited to:
• Slapping, kicking, punching, pushing
• Nipping and scratching
• Pouring hot liquids over someone
• Throwing household objects
• Using weapons
• Sustain any injuries - even a scratch or small bruise?
• Hide your injuries or say they were caused by something else?
• Take refuge in a safe space, such as sleeping in a different bedroom?
• Find yourself looking out for triggers?
• Try to diffuse conflict to prevent physical violence?
• Let them physically attack you without retaliating to get it over with?
• Feel betrayed and emotionally hurt after a physically attacked?
• Feel sleep deprived?
Some men may not experience the same severity of injuries as some women, but the intent behind the violence is the same – control. Men who tell us about physical abuse often dismiss or understate injuries, telling us they weren’t injured despite having bruising or scratches. Many men have told us that they sometimes sleep in a separate locked bedroom as violence is instigated when they are in bed or asleep.
It is important that people are aware that men can be at risk of serious harm or homicide.
Age: 22 Location: Glasgow Relationship: Homosexual
Paul was twisted. He’d take such pleasure from hurting me. If we were out with friends for dinner he’d nip me under the table or push his foot down on mine. That was his way of telling me that the worst was yet to come. Nipping was a warning. He only did it when there were other people around. Other people who had no idea what was playing out in front of them, totally unaware and unable to help me. It was a game for him. He could do that and make me feel like that in front of our friends and get away with it. I’d be terrified. I’d spend the rest of the night feeling sick at the thought of going home.
I’d go straight to the bathroom and lock myself in, hoping that he’d calm down or go to bed and fall asleep. He’d punch me, pin me down and put his hands around my neck. He’d tell me that I made a fool of him, and that I was quiet when we were out for dinner and that I was rude for not making an effort with his friends. It’s hard to make an effort when you’re holding back tears and sick with nerves at the thought of going home. One day when he was at work I packed a bag, gathered up my important documents and went to the nearest housing office. Because I was fleeing an abusive relationship they were able to get me sorted out with temporary accommodation.
Age: 22 Location: Glasgow Relationship: Heterosexual
Anne has always had a temper, and she’s prone to mood swings, but the physical violence only started recently. I’m quite big built, and she’s petite. That makes it hard to contemplate that she’s physically abusive to me. She’d throw stuff at me – remote control, plates, cups, whatever she could lay her hands on. She’d say that I make her ‘crazy’. If she didn’t get her way she’d go off on one, and blame me for how she was acting. The easiest way to deal with that sort of behaviour was to agree with her. There was never a middle ground or compromise throughout our marriage. It was Anne’s way or the highway. One night I woke up in a complete daze and a shooting pain on the side of my head. She was standing there with a torch, shouting about how I hadn’t put on the laundry.
Her favourite line was that I should sleep with one eye open. I had to start sleeping in the spare room and barricading the door. One night she barged in and threw a cup of boiling water over me. It would always be a week night when I had to get up for work the next day. I’d be like a walking zombie. Some of her episodes could last for hours. My boss took me aside one day to talk about what was going on at home. He had noticed that my performance was slipping, and that I had regular bruises and cuts. He said that he had known for some time but didn’t want to bring it up. I was so relieved that he did, and that he was understanding. I could have lost my job if we didn’t have that chat.