Men who are beaten by women: why we don’t believe them


I found it difficult to find personal stories for this text. I asked my friends if they knew about such families where the wife beats her husband. And almost always they answered me with a smirk or asked: “Probably, it is women driven to despair who beat alcoholics and drug addicts?” It is unlikely that anyone would think that violence is permissible, all the more so that one can laugh at it.

Where, then, does this almost reflexive irony come from? Perhaps we just never thought that domestic violence could be directed at a man. It sounds somehow strange … And the questions immediately arise: how is this possible? How can the weak beat the strong and why does the strong endure it? This means that he is strong only physically, but weak internally. Is he afraid? Doesn’t respect himself?

Such cases are not reported either in the press or on television. Men are silent about this. Do I need to explain that they cannot complain to others, they cannot go to the police. After all, they know that they are doomed to condemnation and ridicule. And most likely, they judge themselves. Both our reluctance to think about them and their reluctance to speak are explained by the patriarchal consciousness that still controls us.

It is impossible to hit back: it means to stop being a man, to behave unworthily. Divorce is scary and seems like weakness

Let’s remember the flash mob # I’m afraid to say. The confessions of the abused women generated warm sympathy from some and offensive comments from others. But then we did not read the confessions of men who became victims of their wives on social networks.

This is not surprising, says social psychologist Sergei Yenikolopov: “In our society, they would rather forgive a man for violence against a woman than understand a man who is subjected to domestic violence.” The only place where you can say this out loud is the psychotherapist’s office.


Most often, stories about a wife beating her husband come up when a couple or family comes to an appointment, tells family psychotherapist Inna Khamitova. But sometimes men themselves turn to a psychologist about this. Usually they are prosperous, successful people in their profession, in whom it is impossible to suspect victims of violence. How do they themselves explain why they endure such treatment?

Someone doesn’t know what to do. It is impossible to hit back: it means to stop being a man, to behave unworthily. Divorce is scary and seems like a weakness. And how else to resolve this humiliating conflict is unclear. “They feel powerless and desperate because they see no way out,” says the family therapist.

“There is no point in changing something”

Alexey, 40 years old, dentist

“Sometimes it“ finds ”her, and she rushes at me with her fists. How disgusting it is! Recently after such a scene there was a bruise on the cheekbone. Colleagues, of course, asked what happened. I was ready to sink into the ground. Yes, I was sick of her licentiousness. So he tends to slam the door. But then I think: what’s the point? How many friends I had, they too sooner or later became aggressive. It never came to fights, but the scandals were ugly. There is nothing to be done, all women are like that. “

A woman without a heart

There is a second option, when a man is really afraid of his partner. This happens in those couples where a woman has sociopathic traits: she does not realize the boundaries of what is permitted, does not know what compassion, pity, empathy are.

“As a rule, her victim is an insecure man who blames himself first of all for being treated this way,” explains Inna Khamitova. “In his mind, he is bad, not her.” This is how those who were offended in the parental family, who, perhaps, were victims of violence in childhood, feel themselves. When women start to humiliate them, they feel completely broken.

It gets even more complicated when a couple has children. They can sympathize with the father and hate the mother. But if the mother is insensitive and ruthless, the child sometimes turns on such a pathological defense mechanism as “identification with the aggressor”: he supports the persecution of the victim’s father so as not to become a victim himself. “In any case, the child receives a psychological trauma that will affect his future life,” Inna Khamitova is sure.

The situation looks hopeless. Can psychotherapy restore healthy relationships? It depends on whether the woman in this couple is capable of change, the family therapist believes. Sociopathy, for example, is virtually untreatable, and such toxic relationships are best avoided.

“It’s another matter when a woman defends herself from her own injuries, which she projects onto her husband. Let’s say she had a cruel father who beat her. To prevent this from happening again, now she hits. Not because she likes it, but for self-defense, although no one attacks her. If she realizes this, a warm relationship can be revived. “

“I was afraid to lose my daughter”

Kirill, 51, designer

“When she pounced on me, trying to scratch my face, I grabbed her hands. Once, due to bruises on her wrists, she went to the police, accusing me of the beatings! I thought she just had a mad temperament; I even turned on … This went on for six years, until I realized how pathetic. I was afraid that I would not be able to take my daughter, but my wife gave her away without a fight. She rarely appears in our house, and I am glad for that. “

Mixing roles

The number of male victims of violence is increasing. The reason is, first of all, how the female and male roles are changing these days.

“Women have entered the masculine world and act according to its rules: they study, work, reach career heights, participate in competition on an equal basis with men,” says Sergei Enikolopov. And the accumulated voltage is discharged at home. And if earlier aggression in women usually manifested itself in an indirect, verbal form – gossip, “hairpins”, backbiting, now they often turn to direct physical aggression … with which they themselves do not know how to cope.

“The socialization of men has always included the ability to manage their aggression,” says Sergei Yenikolopov. – In Russian culture, for example, the boys had rules on this score: “fight to the first blood”, “they don’t beat when lying down”. But no one taught girls and does not teach them to control their aggression. “

Are we justifying violence just because the aggressor is a woman?

On the other hand, women now expect caring, sensitivity, gentleness from men. But at the same time, gender stereotypes have not disappeared, and it is difficult for us to admit that women can be truly cruel, and men can be tender and vulnerable. And we are especially merciless towards men.

“Although it is difficult to admit it and society is not aware of this, a man who is beaten by a woman immediately loses his status as a man,” says psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist Serge Efez. – It seems to us absurd and ridiculous, we do not believe that this can be. But it would be necessary to support the victim of violence. “

We seem to have already realized that the man is always to blame for violence against a woman. But it turns out that in the event of violence against a man, he himself is to blame? Are we justifying violence just because the aggressor is a woman? “It took me a lot of courage to decide on a divorce,” admitted one of those with whom I still managed to talk. So this is again a question of courage? It seems we are at a dead end …

“I feel sorry for her”

Pavel, 39 years old, engineer

“Our daughter was born unhealthy. The wife closed herself up, cried a lot. When she attacked me for the first time, I held my daughter in my arms, dodged so that the child would not get it. My wife accused me of her daughter being ill, and everyone in her family was always healthy … I understand that she takes out her despair on me. I tried to persuade her to go to the doctor, drink sedatives, but she is like a stone. And I can’t leave her, I feel sorry for her, I want to help, but I don’t know how! “

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