Picture an image of a domestic violence victim, beaten, battered, bruised. We’re pretty sure that most of you have an image of a woman in mind. Rarely do we hear stories of men being at the brunt of domestic violence, that alone is part of the problem because as a society, we pass judgement to men who claim to be abused. Thus, cornering them into silence. As if it is impossible for men, as another fellow human being, to be violated.
Former deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Hannah Yeoh affirms this in a statement.
"Of the 1,037 domestic violence cases reported between 2017 and June 2018, 56 cases, or 5.4% involved husbands who were the victims," - Hannah Yeoh
Ironically, as a patriarchal society, meaning here a society where men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property, male victims of domestic violence however, have no place of privilege in this social system. On the contrary, they are shamed and ridiculed.
This is prevalent even in social media where netizens were seen poking fun at a picture of Will Smith welling up as he discussed his wife, Jada Smith’s “entanglement” with fellow artist August Alsina.
It’s as if there is no room for men to be vulnerable or to show signs of weaknesses. Remember that Gillette’s “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” campaign that challenges men to abandon the “Boys will be boys” mentality.
Whew, some men were literally boycotting the brand because it supports the #MeToo movement. This sets the tone of how men are groomed from a young age to embrace violence, to be tough, to use coarse language, basically don’t be a mama’s boy. See how toxic society can be?
Not to mention, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s ongoing court hearings on domestic violence charges. While the story started on painting Johnny Depp as the abuser, more evidence surfaced showing that there might be a possibility that Amber fabricated the whole story and have been violent to Johnny instead.
We may never know what exactly happened as this was a case of “he said, she said” until more proof is unveiled. But funny enough, when the audio recording of Amber Heard admitting to being violent to Johnny went viral, not everyone was on board to side with Johnny. There was still this stigma around believing men as the assaulter in a relationship.
It may be difficult to change the mind set of these dinosaur boomers who clearly don’t want to be saved or changed. But you know what we can do? Educate the future generations. It is up to us to end this vicious cycle of enabling men to be violent and shaming them from being vulnerable.
It is only when we learn to respect and understand one another with no judgement and hold people accountable for their actions with no regards of their gender, race, religion and social status that we can unite against the real evil in this world- cheese on top of everything. LOL kidding. (But seriously, end this trend for the love of god).
So, let’s debunk the myths and misconceptions of male victims of domestic violence.
Most of what we consume in the media are stories of female perpetrators and female victims who are typically in heterosexual relationships. While this remains true, we should not be focusing on only one type of situation that may lead to domestic violence. This will render the many other scenarios that do not fit this definition invisible.
According to Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim, there is evidence linking to a rise in domestic violence cases against men.
Between 2014 and 2016, there were 15,617 cases of domestic violence reported and from those, 26% were against the male spouse. However, these figures did not reflect the actual number of cases, as there were still many men who did not lodge reports because of various reasons, including shame for being abused and being seen as "weak" to have been abused by women.
According to the American Psychological Association, toxic masculinity may present a negative impact on young boys and men because it will stigmatise emotions that are normal for them to go through. They may be reluctant to report the abuse or find it uncomfortable to talk about ways of dealing with it. Feeling angry, afraid, and sad are normal emotions for anyone to go through no matter the gender! There’s no glory in being someone’s punching bag or being violent. Also, abuse manifests itself in many ways. Often the types of abuse men go through includes verbal abuse, humiliation, possessiveness, exertion of control, manipulation, and threats as well.
While abuse was usually thought to be physical, most cases involving men were emotional in nature. And while It is not common to hear of such cases, these incidents do exist. More and more men are coming out to report and these cases are treated similarly to abuse cases involving women. We suggest for you to contact the 24-hour Talian Nur hotline at 15999 if you are experiencing abuse. Rest assured that you will be treated equally as other victims of abuse.
The belief that mothers will always be in favour in a custody battle is no longer a legal requirement in many courts, but a case study on selected High Court judgments in Malaysia from 1998-2008 on child custody and maintenance decisions proved that an average 67% of judges in Malaysia still favour the presumption.
HOWEVER, there are ways that you can turn this around. The abused father will have to prove and document his wife’s violence against him and if the abused father has a bigger contribution in terms of finance and the overall welfare of the child, the argument is refutable. So if you are a victim, keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures of injuries and a journal of all violent incidents, recording dates, events and threats made.
Our heart goes out to all victims of domestic violence. Nobody, in a family institution especially, should ever engage in abuse and violence, it is not only traumatic to the receiving end, it affects everyone around them too. Men always get the shorter end of the stick as victims of domestic violence because society fails them.
So, let’s put an end to toxic masculinity. As a society and the future generation, we need to shed the mistakes of our elders, we can be better. We will be better! Let’s hope the tide begins to turn.
In this episode of What's The Feed: Toxic Masculinity, join our host, Denise Chan as she discusses the topic with French-Chinese model Julien Buteau and Youtuber, Vikar from Vikar World.
Source: Communities and Justice, National Domestic Violence Hotline, Research Gate, Women's Aid Organisation, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.