FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-10
Domestic violence committed against anyone is wrong, but when men going through divorce claim they’re the victim of domestic violence in court proceedings the claim is often interpreted as being disingenuous or as a power play. Husbands, like wives, can be the victims of the domestic violence. Recent data shows that more men are subjected to domestic violence than what is perceived by the public.
The statistics regarding women and domestic violence are sobering. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one out of every four women will be the victim of domestic violence in her lifetime, and women are the victims of 85 percent of reported domestic violence cases. Nonetheless, the information on men as the victims of domestic violence is just as staggering. According to the National Centers for Disease Control, 40 percent of the victims of severe physical domestic violence were men and the number is increasing. In addition, more than half of domestic violence cases involving deadly weapons are committed against men.
Despite the significant number of men who suffer domestic violence, they are less likely to report it because of embarrassment, lack of support or because of the stereotype that men should be strong. The lack of reporting translates into less data on the issue, which helps to erode legal arguments in divorce court. Frequently, when a husband claims that he is the victim of domestic violence during divorce, the claim is viewed as an embellishment aimed at capturing sympathy for the man and is viewed as a pretense to put the wife in bad light during child custody proceedings or the greater divorce proceedings.
As it is for women, if men are the victims of domestic violence, the issue should be treated genuinely during divorce and other legal proceedings. To better protect their case, men should consider the five following suggestions. First, don't wait for events to become physical before calling the police. The definition of assault includes any action meant to put a person in fear of imminent harm. Men should also understand that domestic violence includes verbal, emotional and financial abuse as well as physical.
Second, abuse is often linked to mental health or substance abuse issues, so it's important to understand the underlying causes of the abuse. A psychological evaluation for the abusing spouse can help provide insight. Third, if children are involved in the divorce, request that the family undergo a child custody evaluation. The evaluation will focus on both parents, each child's relationship with the parent, and how domestic violence may or may not impact the parent-child relationships. Fourth, each spouse should attend separate counseling and the family or spouses should not attend family or joint counseling because they provide a venue for the abuser to blame the victim and potentially require the victim to assume responsibility for the abuser's actions. Finally, husbands should not be afraid to speak up if they are the victims of abuse. Help can only be obtained if others, such as family, friends or even your attorney, are informed. There is no shame in seeking protection for you and your family.
If you are the victim of domestic abuse and are considering divorce, consult an experienced family law attorney who can protect your rights and the rights of your family.