While the stereotypical portrayal of domestic violence is a male perpetrator and a female victim, men are also victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence includes a wide range of behaviors and situations that occur between intimate partners.
New York defines intimate partners as people who:
- Are married or divorced to/from each other
- Are related through marriage (such as in-laws)
- Are related to each other (siblings, cousins, etc.)
- Engage in a relationship with each other such as dating or sex (same-sex or opposite sex)
- Live in the same household
- Share a child
Intimate partner violence includes:
- Controlling behavior
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
- Harm or threat of harm to loved ones and pets
- Mental abuse
- Physical harm
- Rape or sexual abuse
- Threats of any kind of harm
Are Men Frequently Victims of Domestic Violence?
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in nine American men experiences intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Nationally, one out of every four men will experience some form of physical violence in this type of relationship, with one in seven experiencing severe physical violence. One out of 25 men has been injured by an intimate partner. In New York state, 33.5% of men report experiencing some type of domestic violence in their lifetimes.
There is no data on the incidence of rape against men in intimate partner relationships, but that does not mean it does not happen. In fact, 1 out of every 14 men reports being forced to perform a sexual act at some point in their life. Domestic violence is more than just physical harm. One out of 18 men becoming victims of stalking and 5.1 million men having been stalked at some point in their lives. Most male victims experience domestic violence before the age of 25, often before age 18.
What Does the Data Tell Us?
Sometimes there are questions raised about how men can be victims of domestic violence, particularly if they are in a heterosexual relationship and are bigger and stronger than their female partner. It is important to remember that domestic violence is about power, control, manipulation, and emotional control, which can happen between people of any gender, size, strength, and sexual orientation.
It is well-established that men are less likely than female victims to report domestic violence they have experienced. Research has shown that when men experience domestic violence, they do not report it because they see it as a private or family matter (NOT because they are ashamed, as some people suggest). Men also are less likely to report it because they fear they will not be believed.
It is normal and common for a victim of domestic violence to fight back by shouting, pushing, shoving, hitting, kicking, and yelling at their abuser. It is absolutely right for a domestic violence victim to seek to protect themselves. However, this is a complex issue for men because if law enforcement is involved, or if the incident is handled in family or divorce court, there is a frequent assumption that if a man is displaying these behaviors in a heterosexual relationship, he is the primary perpetrator. In same-sex relationships, there may be the perception that the couple is equally to blame or that the larger man must be the perpetrator.
If you are a man and are the victim of intimate partner violence, you have the right to get help, to press charges, and to get an order of protection from your partner, regardless of the gender or physical differences in your relationship.
Protection for Male Victims in New York
New York state provides a wide variety of protections for male victims of domestic violence without regard to the gender of their partner or whether they themselves are cis or trans. Law enforcement is required to make a mandatory arrest of the perpetrator if a felony occurred or an existing order of protection was violated.
If your partner is arrested, you are entitled to a temporary order of protection. If there is no arrest, you can file for an order of protection in Family Court and receive a temporary order and schedule a hearing for a permanent order.
Orders of protection can include the following provisions:
- A stay-away order directing the perpetrator to stay away from you and your children and may include a specific distance that must be maintained.
- A no-contact order stating the perpetrator cannot call, text, email, or contact you or your children in any way, including coming to your place of work, school, or your home.
- A direction to the perpetrator to refrain from doing certain things, such as stalking.
- Surrender of the perpetrator’s firearms while the order is in place.
- An order giving you exclusive occupancy of your joint home.
- Orders of child custody and child support.
Help for Male Victims
As a male victim of domestic violence, you have an equal right to legal help and protections as any woman. If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you need to leave or want help creating a safety plan or getting counseling, contact the New York State Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906. ALL licensed and approved domestic violence programs in New York state must provide assistance, including emergency shelter, for all victims regardless of gender or sexual identity. You cannot be turned away because you are a man.
If you need an order of protection in family court or want to pursue a custody case or divorce and want an order of protection as part of that proceeding, you are entitled to robust, supportive legal representation. The skilled attorneys at Bikel and Schanfield are ready to ensure you get all the protections you are entitled to under the law.