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Men can be victims too

‘I was hit, I was punched, I was head-butted, I was bruised. I felt trapped, physically and emotionally, and isolated from my friends and family. I felt such a sense of shame that this was happening to me.’

This quote from a victim of domestic violence is sadly typical of those suffering at the hands of abusive partners — except in one crucial respect. The victim in this instance is male.

Alan Edwards (not his real name) spent three years in an abusive relationship with the mother of his young son before seeking help.

He was verbally and physically abused in front of his son, had his front door kicked down and felt pushed to his emotional limit.

“I’m six foot one and I weigh 90kg, and I would rather be punched in the face by a man than be shamed in this way by a woman,” he said. “You can get over the physical damage but the emotional abuse is so much harder. People don’t even recognise that it’s there for a start.

“The shame comes from a lack of support. If people are supporting and validating me, the shame doesn’t land. Nobody told me that I was right and she was wrong. The shame can’t be relieved, so it doesn’t go away.”

Think domestic violence and chances are you’ll picture a woman with a black eye or bruising, one of the graphic images used in government media campaigns of recent years.

What these very successful campaigns fail to mention, however, is that the victims of such violence can be men, too.

It’s difficult to get a true understanding of the prevalence of domestic violence against men in Australia, partly because of the extreme reluctance of men to report it. However, it’s estimated that about one in three victims of domestic violence in Australia is male, and the effects of such abuse on men can be just as devastating as on women.

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