A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine showed that domestic violence against men is grossly under-reported and may have implications on mental health. According to the study, a retrospective cohort, of the 420 men involved 28.8% had been victims of emotional or physical violence during their adult lives. In a similar study this number was at 44% among women. Additionally, men who were over the age of 55 and had suffered domestic violence had generally lower mental health scores, showing greater signs of depression; men that were under the age of 55 reported more difficulty functioning socially. According to the researchers conducting the study, “…the findings suggest that the failure of healthcare personnel to ask about and acknowledge men’s experiences may be shortsighted.” The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study:
“Asking men about [intimate partner violence] may open a conversational space about violence — perhaps bi-directional in nature — that may be occurring in their relationships,” they said.
Future research, the researchers said, is needed to determine effectiveness of various interventions.
Dr. Reid said that this study should not overshadow the effects of violence against women.
“This study doesn’t downplay or mitigate the experience that women have with domestic violence. It’s common for women, and health consequences — including death — can be devastating,” he said. “But violence appears to go in many directions, directed against children, against women, and, in some cases, men.”
The researchers conducted a telephone survey of 420 adult men (mean age 53.8, 86.1% white) who were insured by Group Health for at least three years.
They were asked about past episodes of intimate partner violence using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.
Health was assessed using the Short Form-36 version 2, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, and the National Institute of Mental Health Presence of Symptoms Survey.
A total of 18.4% of the participants reported being a victim of childhood physical or sexual violence and 14.5% had witnessed intimate partner violence.
Overall, 4.6% of the participants had been violenced in the past year by an intimate partner and 10.4% had been a victim of violence in the past five years.
Pastoral Action Point: Recognizing an individual as being in a scenario that doesn’t fit the societal mold is difficult. However, the numbers are clear; 28.8% of men in this study had suffered domestic violence. The difficulty in recognizing domestic violence suffered by men is that societal expectations create seemingly impenetrable walls for pride to escape. It is tremendously difficult for one to share about domestic violence or reach out for help when collective beliefs dictate that men are rarely if ever victims of it. Therefore, fostering open communication and trust among congregants and staff is essential. In situations were violence is suspected… “ask.” It would also be well worthwhile to incorporate stats inclusive of male victims in domestic violence prevention talks that your church presents or hosts.