Emerging research suggests men can be traumatized by female partner abuse. Although often unreported, trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicidal thoughts among men.
Domestic abuse is mainly reported by women abused by men. However, researchers are now studying the effects of domestic violence when males are the recipients.
“Given the stigma surrounding this issue and the increased vulnerability of men in these abusive relationships, we as mental health experts should not ignore the need for more services for these men,” said British researcher Anna Randle, Psy.D., lead author of a paper in the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity.
According to a 1998 survey, approximately 8 percent of men and 25 percent of women reported being sexually or physically assaulted by a current or former partner. Among the abused, male victims were found to be just as likely to suffer from PTSD as female victims of domestic abuse.
In addition, psychological abuse was just as strongly associated with PTSD as was physical violence in these male victims.
“This raises questions and concerns for male victims of domestic violence, given findings that women are more likely to perpetrate psychological than physical aggression toward male partners,” wrote Randle.
In a separate finding, Denise Hines, Ph.D., and Clark University researchers looked at two groups of men between the ages of 18 and 59. Of the 822 men studies, 302 had sought professional help after being violently abused by their female partner.
The other group of 520 men were randomly recruited in a phone survey. When asked questions about their relationship, 16 percent of the random group reported they had minor acts of violent and psychological abuse during arguments with their female partners.
The researchers found that in both groups of men, there were associations between abuse and post-traumatic stress symptoms.
Researcher determined the more serious acts of domestic violence among the group seeking professional help was tied to an increased risk of developing PTSD.
Overall, men often underreport spousal or partner abuse, said Randle. For example, men are not as likely to report serious injuries due to abuse, and psychological or less violent abuse is more likely to go unreported to authorities.
In addition, police are less likely to arrest female suspects accused of violence than male suspects, according to another study cited by Randle.
Historically, the failure to have reliable information associated with male domestic victimization men has limited research. Future studies hope to capitalize on improved transparency and reporting of the phenomenon.