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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Domestic Violence: The Hidden Story of Abused Men

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: May 26th 2008

 The history of the abuse of women is well documented and incontrovertible. What is more hidden and wrapped in myth is the fact of the abuse of men. It is probably counter intuitive to think of men as subjected to emotional and physical abuse as the hands of women but it does happen.

Dr. Robert J.Reid, MD recently lead a study just published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (May 2008) that discussed domestic violence and looked at the statistics involving abused men and women. The results were fascinating in that they clearly demonstrated the fact that abused men are understudied and hidden. He found that there are also a number of myths surrounding the issue of abused men.

Myth 1: Men are not physically abused by women.
Fact: There is a 30% rate of domestic violence cases involving men being abused by women. Also, physical abuse of men includes being kicked, hit and forced to have sexual relations against their will. The non physical abuse includes being the target of threats and the recipient of disparaging remarks and curses.

Myth 2: Men are not affected when women are abusive.
Fact: Men suffer from depression as a result of being abused.
However, Dr. Reid does state that the findings show that men are not as physically harmed as are women by violent abusive attacks.

Myth 3: Men are free to leave abusive relationships as compared to women who often have children or money to worry about.
Fact: In actuality, men have as much difficulty leaving abusive relationships as do women. As a result, they remain despite ongoing abuse.

Myth 4: Domestic abuse affects only people from poor families or from minority groups.
Fact: Domestic violence of all types does not discriminate. Families from all ethnic, racial and socio-economic groups are affected by domestic violence.

Myth 5: If domestic violence and abuse is ignored it will eventually end.
Fact: The history of domestic violence and abuse of all kinds clearly shows that, if ignored, it will become more violent and in some cases, ending in death.


When you stop and think about it why shouldn't it be obvious that men as well as women would suffer from verbal and physical abuse. There are many men who are dependent, fearful, passive-aggressive and fearful just as their are women with these characteristics. In addition, men have no monopoly on violence. History clearly shows that women have committed horrendous acts of violence and murder just as men. The difference might have more to do with the percentage of violent acts committed by men compared to women.

It seems to me that domestic violence is wrong whether committed against women, children or men. This posting is not presented in order to thumb noses at women but rather to focus on the fact that family violence is always wrong and needs to be addressed.

What are your experiences with this issue, whether you are male, female or the adult survivor of childhood abuse?

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Helpful site for abused men - Steveo - Oct 18th 2010

There is a wonderful site and forum for abused men, its been a life saver for me.

Women I Attract... - Daveross - Jun 18th 2010

I have been with a string of abusive women and have abused myself, It is confusing. I read that affairs, and flirting with the opposite sex, false accusation towards you and any female (or male even)friends i have, withdrawal of affection and refusal to communicate, constant put downs are all emotional and mental abuse. These things did cause great sorrow and depression in me and they would always make out it was my fault, and consequently i would lash out. I knew that it was wrong but was also very upset after i had lashed out. where does all this leave me, as i am very confused as it is taught in society that a man has to take all manner of crap that a woman bestows, her friend even said, that if she was sleeping with another man in front of me , i would still not have the right to lift my hand, physical violence hurts, but mental violence takes a lot longer to heal, i know this because it took three years to even go out the door.

I abused a man. I am a women - - May 21st 2010

I found out my partner of 7 years was cheating, after picking up his phone and speaking to a women, he had been seeing for two months, and sleeping with whilst I had been ill with a serious gyni problem

I smashed his Mac laptop, his phone, I punched, pinched, scratched, his face, pulled out clumps of his hair, sat on him, hit him with a cup, an empty tin of paint, burnt him with a cigarette

It was all completely horrific.  I have not been violent ever before in this way in my life, I am ashamed and disgusted, and it is haunting me what I did. 

I could not bear the shock and pain of his cheating, and actually hearing the women discuss his infidelity, I just went crazy.

I am sickened and shocked at what I did, violence of any kind, to both men and women, is completely utterly unacceptable, and I will be ashamed of my behaviour all my life.

I am 45 years old, and I have never been violent before. But I am scared that was within me, I never knew I could behave that way. I am so ashamed.

Dr. Dombeck's Note: Please be kind to yourself!  Please don't let this thing - this guilt - constrict your life into something you can't live with. People do snap sometimes and act in quite uncharacteristic and bizzare ways.  It's called "fugue"  and it is a kind of dissociative phenemonena.  Because it happened once does not mean that you are contaminated in some way; it just means you were temporarily tramatized by pain and now  you are yourself again.  You weren't in your "right" mind during the fugue and so are, in an important internal way, not responsible.  it's not how you would act now.  The thing to do here is to try to learn from what has happened rather than to become paralyzed with fear

What did you do to her? - - Apr 13th 2010

This has been the response every time I have told some one about the mounting emotional and physical abuse my wife has committed.

Do we ever ask a woman what she did to deserve being hit?


While my behavior certainly could have been a trigger that set her off, it did not warrant violence.

Her anger came from a place long ago and far away from the present time and place, and had little relation to the reality of our relationship.

There is never a reason for violence under these circumstances. Our relationship was certainly troubled, but I was not threatening her or intimidating her, or saying or doing cruel things.

I did not deserve to be hit with a blunt instrument so my wife could express her anger at some long ago offense not committed by me.

I never hit her back. I am a strong person and could do damage if I chose. I choose not to.

We are all just people. We are all capable of horrible things. Women do not have the franchise on virtue, nor men on cruelty.

Abuse is a human failure to love truly and forgive wholeheartedly ourselves and those who hurt us in the past and present.

Recognizing abuse as not gender-specific can only help diminish it.





I called the Cops thinking it was the smart thing to do - jvon - Dec 2nd 2009

my girlfriend "19yrs" would not keep her hands off me "20yrs" "kicking punching scrathing biting". so i called the police so they can get her away from me. i had psychial scars and my lip was bleedin. by the end of the nite i was charged with assault and put behind bars. she was allowed to contact her mother and able to go home scott free. dat was the worst nite of my life and i now feel wrong for even calling the cops. no one cared how i felt i didnt get a phone call. they treated me like i was guilty just because im a guy

abused and used - - Nov 6th 2009


15 years of teaching Anger Management - Michelle T. - Nov 2nd 2009

I have taught anger management to all ages from elementary school to an 80 year old. I first started hearing about women abusing the men in their lives when I was teaching a 2nd grade class. I saw 'the father" out in the parking lot and approached him he was battered quite badly. I asked him why he didn't report it to the police and he said because it was easier as a man to say he got beat up in a fight at the bar than to have people think he was "pussy whipped by his wife" and make fun of him because "he couldn't handle his woman". I have come across dozens now over the years with similar responses and I educate them quietly so no one will know that I know what is going on behind closed doors.

some of those same authoritarian personality traits - precious - Sep 21st 2009

wow, i am shocked and surpised of all the comments and experiences of the others who have opinions on his topic. i was searching the web for " characteristics of men who are abused," cause when my boyfriend left me, he went for a woman who was a total opposite of me. i had heard how she talked to him and about him badly And i know how she came into his life buying him things and doing things to get him from me and keep him. She came in with her sob story about how her husband abused her, yes she was married and a cheater. I now know that, that was the first sign of an abuser. A female (cause i cant call her a woman) coming into a man's life giving him things and trying to buy his affections. Dont know if i even want to refer to him as a man, because he acted just like a little boy under her. It actually looked like a mother and son relationship rather than a man and woman relationship. But now i can see i had some of those same authoritarian personality traits, cause i have been verbally abusive toward him when i got mad at him. But i dont want to be that way any longer. Cause i would wonder why he went to her, well i know it was the money. But now im wondering if he sees that independence in a woman as something good, so he can be taken care of, but than it comes out as abuse when he doesnt pull his own weight. Cause a man not pulling his own weight isnt good. I think when u give one person too much control in the relationship, that's when abuse happens. I have learned alot through this experience and i am making some changes in myself and i am becoming much better, i'm praying for God's help in this matter. God bless and thanks for reading.

Women are menbeater - Shaye green - Sep 1st 2009
Look here im young women and i feel like men should get beat. And i feel like when i have a boyfriend i will beat him and give injuries beceuse, its all i no my mum look after me rigth but i live in a flat. Where a women was beating her boyfriend and i was shocked

help - - Mar 26th 2009

I have been with my girlfriend for 2 and a half years. She is destroying or lives and our apartment. No matter what I do, it is taken as an act to hurt her feelings - to the point of her screaming she hates me and is in my face hitting and attacking me. If I do anything to get out of her way... i.e. push her off - she states that I was abusing her. It is to the point that I am scared to talk to my neighbors and her family and friends think it is all me. I have called the law twice and they said that we shold work it out or one of us leave for the night - to this, I usually leave for the night.

She claims to have nowhere else to live and the place is in my name. I just do not know what I can do for her or us. She has tried counseling, but she just seems to be more angry and mean. She states that the counselor has her talk about the things she does wrong and so it upsets her. She breaks glasses, her cell phone and other things on a weekly basis. I have bruises and scratches on me from her. I love her, but I think I know the only answer is to leave her or somehow have her leave.

Is there anyone else out there that has been through this and has some advice?

Generalizations - Allan N Schwartz - Dec 5th 2008

I have to agree that it is not fair to make generalizations about men or women. It is also not right to be verbally abusive and the commentor who wrote that "all women are whores," (this is what he wrote) was being insulting, derogatory and verbally abusive. This is no place for that type of behavior and I apologize to all of our readers for the single individual and his poorly chosen words and attitude.

Dr. Schwartz

Generalizing women as whores - - Dec 4th 2008

There are women in the world who are not whores. Just because your mother was one does not make all women whores. Try to be more logical.

Blame or Responsibility? - Lee Cox - Nov 2nd 2008

I am a man. I was both abusive and abused. For me, the idea of blame seems to still be alive and well in Domestic Violence. I advocate everyone being responsible for their involvement, whether they are the abuser or the abused. For me the answer to ending DV will require all participants to choose to take full and complete responsibility for themselves, to look inside themselves and discover what it is in them that got them into an abusive situation. Personally, I own that I put myself in relationships where I hurt others and own that I was dangerous. On the other hand I accept full responsibility for being in relationships where others abused me.

WOW - - Aug 25th 2008

I know a guy who moaved across the stste to be with this woman. He did so in manner that was unfair to his family and fiends. He left her, but went bac. Burning the last bridge he had.

Now, when I talk to him he says he feels hurt, and seems distant to me. I have tried to talk to him but he says he has no where to go. Any suggestions as to what he should do?

Female abusers - cat2440 - Jul 31st 2008

I know of a man that has been emotionally abused for years, his wife would put marks on her self and say he did it ( I have witnessed this) and she would get in his face and tell him he enjoyed being abused by his father.  Say horrible things to him and break him down so badly emotionally that he could not even function anymore.  She even had him to the point where he believed he was actually the abuser. (he was supposedly doing this in his sleep) She finally got caught in her lies.

He was cleared of what she had accused him of, but he is still a very damaged person. (I am female and I can tell you to see a man through that and feel like there is no way out because no one will believe you, or think you are a wimp is very, very sad!) There really needs to be more resources out there for men to be able to seek help!

on targetins husband and partner - - Jun 19th 2008

yes some people say that women wont target on husband and partner .yea i do agrey to this topic. But they wont think why do they do like this .there must be some reasons behond it .And the reasons would be they must be busey in thwir work and they must be having somr responsablites or some other els .



Equal Playing field - - Jun 11th 2008

Women can be just as abusive to their men as some men are abusive to their wife or girlfriend.  The fact of the matter is most women who are abusive toward men tend to have equal or greater abuse put on thenm by the person they are abusing, stress at work and at home contribute to thier frstrations. 

What we must all realize is we are all part of the problem when it comes to abuse.  Blame is not the answer.  What is the anwer is the ability to be understanding and nurture each oter in a relationship.  The frontal lobe of the brain is what seperates humans fro other animals. Humans are a far superior animal than any other.  If we act like animals then, we are no better than a donkey, dog or cat.  So the next time someone calls you an ass, bitch or a well, you know.... Say to yourself, "I'm better than that" and turn the other cheek.

Problematic - - Jun 4th 2008

While ever men's violence against women is pathologised the reality of the horror men's violence against women will be defended and justified by "research" such as this.

I agree - Hannah - Jun 2nd 2008

You hear about abusive mothers alot, but why do people seem to think they do not target their husbands or partners?

I think people are to caught up in steroetypes of what they think men really are compared to what reality HUMANS! 


hah - - May 29th 2008
about time. women are f***in whores, and can be just as abusive and destructive as men. they can and will irrevocably fuck up a mans life just as good as any man, especially a mans view of other women. my whore/bitch of a mother is a prime example

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