Maxine Marz

A column covering everything from PIN numbers to border crossings.


Published August 31, 2004

Husband abuse erodes dignity

The recent article on husband abuse highlighted the emotional and psychological torment many abused men endure from their intimate partners.

Many abused men hold out faint hope that their situation will eventually change for the better without involving outside help for their partner or themselves. Some who are even physically abused opt to not involve the authorities because they fear that they will not be believed and that the system will take the side of their abusive spouse Ė who will portray herself as the victim and them as the abusive villain in the relationship.

Unfortunately, remaining silent and not seeking outside intervention rarely stops the abuse Ė as most men in similar situations have revealed. Instead, the emotional and mental abuse often escalates in severity and frequency and eventually leads to some degree of physical assault on the man.

This progression in violence is typical of all abusers irrespective of gender, because their ultimate goal is to assert their power and maintain control over their partner. In fact, the level of abuse often intensifies when an abusive spouse does not fear any threat of repercussion and/or when their abuse fails to elicit the desired shock-value response from their victim.

While it is true that most physical assaults caused by women tend to be less severe when compared to a manís physical assault on a woman with his fist or a weapon, the abusive womanís slaps, bites, kicks and/or pulling of her partnerís hair are nevertheless still very hurtful because, in addition to subjecting physical pain, they attack the manís dignity and erode his sense of self-worth. Many men also encounter emotional abuse when their abusive spouse turns to using their children to assert her control over them and their relationship.

To add insult to injury, some abusive women not only victimize their spouses by abusing them verbally, emotionally, financially and/or physically, but they also attempt to manipulate the criminal justice system in their favour and against their partner. This unconscionable attempt of some abusive women not only re-victimizes their already abused husbands by denying them equal rights and fair protection under the law, but it simultaneously devalues and undermines the admirable progress womenís groups have achieved over the years in trying to protect the rights of legitimately abused wives and their children in the criminal courts.

It is evident that our society has made positive strides over the years to bring needed attention to domestic abuse and to better protect women from their abusive husbands or partners. Unfortunately, based on what many abused husbands currently experience, we still have a long way to go to afford them with similar protection of their safety and security and to eliminate the current gender bias in our system that re-victimizes them all over again when they step into the legal arena.

To help protect the rights and safety of abused husbands, greater social awareness and understanding is needed. Social and legal reforms are also warranted to ensure that abusive women are held to the same standard of law as abusive men when they attack their intimate partner. In addition, the shroud of shame and secrecy placed on husband abuse needs to be lifted and their plight be recognized as serious and legitimate.

Finally, men who are abused by their intimate partners are urged to speak out freely and openly Ė and as a just and egalitarian society we need to listen to them non-judgmentally and react accordingly. Only when the current duplicitous gender bias is eliminated will abused husbands be afforded with the same protection currently afforded to legitimately abused women.

Next week: Ending the cycle of husband abuse.

Upcoming menís safety seminar: If you were or are an abused husband interested in attending seminars on this topic, e-mail me at:

Maxine Marz is a safety and security consultant on harm reduction and crime prevention strategies. If you have any safety or security-related questions, e-mail Maxine at with maxine in the subject line.

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For the online article see:

For more of her recent articles on this matter see: - - >