Battered men, abusive women

International Men’s Day was celebrated on Saturday, November 19, under the theme, ‘Helping Men and Boys’. The day, celebrated each year, is observed to talk about important topics related to men’s well-being and health, their struggles, and at improving gender relations.

One of the less talked about issues in male-female relations is abuse meted out by women on men, which men have confessed to being afraid to talk about for various reasons, including being mocked by those in authority who are supposed to help victims. Social media has been highlighting more and more of these cases, and there’s one particular twist — it’s been made into a comedy.

Why do people find physical abuse by women funny?

Relationship counsellor Chris Brodber explores…

HAVE you seen the videos too, where a team does a social experiment pretending to be a husband being beaten by his wife? They do it to observe the public’s reaction. In one such video done by MoeAndEthan on Youtube, the YouTubers role play a woman being beaten by her male partner in public. The responses were unbelievable. They ran the exercise a few times, and each time people intervened to stop the man from abusing the woman. They then did the exercise where the woman was beating the man. Then people laughed and mocked instead of intervening. The message was clear — people often find a woman abusing a man to be funny and not a big deal. Why?

It seems because it is expected that a man should be stronger and able to fend off an attack from a woman. However, the fact that people often do not even intervene is also concerning. It seems they’d prefer for the male partner to continue being beaten. Maybe they think it is due punishment for something? It is quite a sad commentary on society though. And the stigma associated with this has caused some abused men to remain quiet about what they are suffering. They dare not expose the abuse because they perceive they’d be ridiculed, adding insult to their injury.

There are many men who have vowed never to hit a woman, especially a woman they love. This, in my view, is noble. However, some men have allowed their partners to beat up on them because they shudder to retaliate. Yet there is no virtue in subjecting yourself to abuse. And as I have told women who have been abused by male partners, so I’d say to men who are being abused by women — get out! Do not remain in an abusive relationship. Get help and get out! Yes, it can be difficult to overcome the embarrassment felt, and the sense of guilt that often accompanies the situation. However, it is imperative to get out.

Only in a healthy society will the abuse of both men and women be seen as absolutely unacceptable, warranting quick intervention. A healthy community cares about the relational and emotional experiences of both its men and women. Making light and laughter about suffering is a display of an unhealthy society. Evidence exists of how frequently men are being abused in a variety of ways. An unconfirmed statistic given by MoeAndEthan in their video states that, “a man is the victim of physical abuse every 35 seconds”. Clearly, this is no laughing matter!

In January, after noting that the police had been seeing an uptick in domestic violence cases during the pandemic, head of the Public Safety and Security Branch Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary McKenzie encouraged men affected by domestic violence to come forward and report it.

“We usually have the men who shy away from coming forward and reporting. So I want to encourage them, encourage us as men, let us not sit down and be shy in terms of seeking help,” he stated.

The Jamaica Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic abuse as a pattern of abusive behaviour in any relationship that is used by one household member to maintain power and control over another household member. Sadly, men in these situations are often overlooked. And men who feel trapped in these scenarios can become suicidal and also harm others. Ignoring their plight is a societal gamble. And I would think ridiculing it is even more dangerous.

Though men are not physically abused at the rate that women are, getting an accurate number is difficult because some men will never expose it. Many endure verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse as well, because of embarrassment and fear. Intervention for these men, as with abused women and children, is critical, because hurt people hurt people.

Rev Christopher Brodber is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail him at