MEN are more likely to keep quiet about being abused. This is due to shame, fear that they won’t be believed or that the partner might take revenge, say experts.
Some domestic violence victims also put up with abuse, justifying them as “isolated incidents” within the abuser’s “nice” underlying personality, says Malaysian Mental Health Association president and consultant psychiatrist Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj.
He says men go through a similar thought process as women.
“In women, they stick with the abuser due to the fear of contravening cultural or religious norms, such as initiating divorce.
“Men also stick on because of the dangers of being ridiculed or seen as a weak, ” he explains.
While it seems like the obvious thing to do, leaving an abusive relationship is rarely easy, says Dr Mohanraj.
“The victim doesn’t feel safe or happy. Yet, they feel unable to leave for many reasons.
“These include fear and a belief that they are the cause of the abuse.
“They may love the abuser and believe they will change, ” he says.
The victim is also psychologically vulnerable that they may even idealise their partner, seeing only their good side.
“They make excuses for what happened, since the abuser can often be charming and pleasant, ” he adds.
On whether mental illness is the cause of abusive behaviour, Dr Mohanraj says it is possible that women with mood disorders like bipolar disorder can be abusive during the manic phase of their condition.
It could also be linked to borderline personality disorder, characterised by dramatic and often unpredictable actions.
Other possible causes include recreational use of illicit drugs.
“If you’re a man in an abusive relationship, it’s important to know that you’re not alone.
“Even if you are embarrassed or afraid that your children could be taken away from you, be bold to report it and take action to safeguard your life and reputation.
“Abuse isn’t only violence, but emotional and verbal abuse.
“Belittling or humiliating you also counts as domestic abuse, ” Dr Mohanraj advises.
Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist and psychologist Assoc Prof Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat concurs that male victims are more likely to keep quiet, especially if the perpetrator is a female, spouse, or the crime was sexual or violent in nature.
“They may keep quiet due to shame, social stigma, strong emotional ties to the perpetrator, or to protect others from the perpetrator, ” she says.
She says most perpetrators of violence are sane and deliberate, but often use mental illness, stress, and victim blaming for actions.
“It is too simplistic to blame violence on mental illness and it’s often used as a defence plea.
“The truth is that not all mental illness manifests into violent behaviour.
“A person who is depressed for example, has a higher tendency to self-harm than harm others, ” Prof Geshina points out.
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