While it occurs far less often than men battering women, women sometimes batter their male partners. Men can and are victims of domestic abuse. They also suffer the second indignity and victimization of many people — including the police — not believing them. Or believing that they couldn’t “fight back” in some way (because they are, after all, men). For men, it is an embarrassing revelation, and one that many men simply never make, preferring to live in silence as a victim.

But we have to keep in mind — not all abuse is physical. Abuse can also be sexual or emotional, and emotional abuse by a woman toward a man may be invisible to outsiders.

How often women abuse men is the subject of much debate.

Studies report that women are victims of domestic violence at least three times more often than men. However, some men’s groups argue that information on battered men is inaccurate. One reason for this, they say, is that some data have probably been kept out of studies because it is politically embarrassing.

Also, a woman hit by a man is more likely to be seriously injured than a man who is hit by a woman. For this reason, male victims are less likely to seek medical attention or other help. So critics say that statistics based on reports to professionals or reports of hospital treatment don’t reflect the true number of male victims.

Male advocates also argue that men don’t get equal protection under the domestic violence laws. They say the courts and police practice a double standard — when men are injured and report the attack to the police, they are not taken seriously. They say a man who slaps a woman will probably be arrested, while a woman’s violent actions will probably be dismissed as harmless.

Men who are in an abusive relationship should report the situation to law enforcement. They may also want to seek help from a mental health professional such as a psychotherapist or psychologist who specializes in men’s issues or domestic violence of men.

Domestic violence of men is a very real phenomenon. Please don’t let society’s discrimination or prejudices about this stop you from getting the help you need if you find yourself the victim of domestic violence. No matter what your gender is, or the gender of the person perpetrating the abuse on you.