SEATTLEDomestic violence can happen to men, not only to women, according to Group Health research in the June American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Domestic violence in men is under-studied and often hiddenmuch as it was in women 10 years ago, said study leader Robert J. Reid, MD, PhD, an associate investigator at the Group Health Center for Health Studies. We want abused men to know theyre not alone. His findings confirm some common beliefs but also debunk five myths about abuse in men:
Myth 1: Few men experience domestic violence. Many do. In-depth phone interviews with over 400 randomly sampled adult male Group Health patients surprised Dr. Reid and his colleagues: 5% had experienced domestic violence in the past year, 10% in the past five years, and 29% over their lifetimes. The researchers defined domestic violence to include nonphysical abusethreats, chronic disparaging remarks, or controlling behavioras well as physical abuse: slapping, hitting, kicking, or forced sex.
Myth 2: Abuse of men has no serious effects. The researchers found domestic violence is associated with serious, long-term effects on mens mental health. Women are more likely than men to experience more severe physical abuse, said Dr. Reid. But even nonphysical abusecan do lasting damage. Depressive symptoms were nearly three times as common in older men who had experienced abuse than in those who hadnt, with much more severe depression in the men who had been abused physically.
Myth 3: Abused men dont stay, because theyre free to leave. In fact, men may stay for years with their abusive partners. We know that many women may have trouble leaving abusive relationships, especially if theyre caring for young children and not working outside the home, said Dr. Reid. We were surprised to find that most men in abusive relationships also stay, through multiple episodes, for years.
Myth 4: Domestic violence affects only poor people. The study actually showe
|Contact: Rebecca Hughes|
Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies