Why Men Don’t Leave

Shame

  • What will my friends, family, colleagues and neighbors think?
  • What will people think if they knew I let a woman beat up on me?

Privacy

  • If I say anything, she’ll tell everyone I’m the abusive one, and shame me in public
  • I’m ashamed I’m not strong enough to defend myself.
  • Everyone knows it’s men that are the violent ones (shame of male for being male)

Self-Worth

  • I probably deserved it.
  • This is the best I deserve.
  • With my looks, or age, or personality, or income, this is as good a relationship as I’ll ever be able to get.

Denial

  • It’s not that bad.
  • All I have to do is leave the house until she cools down. (That’s what TV star Phil Hartman said before his wife murdered him and killed herself.)
  • I can weather this one, just like I did the others.

Reluctance to Give Up the Good

  • If people got to know her, they’d see what a creative, or loving, or wonderful person she is.
  • She’s like this only some of the time.
  • The sex is great, and I can put up with being batted around a little.
  • I’d be lost without a relationship with her.
  • I’d be lost without a relationship.

Inertia

  • It’s too hard to do anything.
  • I’m not ready for that much change in my life.
  • I’ll do it tomorrow, or later, when I’m not so busy.
  • Sounds like a lot of work–more to take care of than I can handle right now.
  • Force of habit. I’m used to life the way it is now.

Kids

The research shows that people–women as well as men–who assault their partners are likely to assault their children, too. If he leaves, chances are he’ll never be able to come back. In today’s climate, there’s a good chance she’ll be able to allege that he has assaulted her or assaulted or even sexually abused the kids, and get a protection order on her say-so, barring him from seeing the kids. This was a common theme in many of the battered men’s personal stories here on MenWeb. Sorry, guys, but if you need to come up with a safety plan and plan out a way for you and the kids to leave the abusive relationship, you also need a “dose of reality” about what some of the risks and problems are. They aren’t insurmountable problems, and many guys have overcome them, but they are difficult ones.

But there’s another factor, too. If a man is being battered and trying to protect the kids, and he calls 911, too-frequently he is the one who ends up being arrested. This was another common theme in many of the battered men’s personal stories here on MenWeb. At a minimum, he may experience problems getting the police to believe that he’s been assaulted or that he needs police help. Family violence researcher Murray A. Straus observes:

Men are also less likely to call the police, even when there is injury, because, like women, they feel shame about disclosing family violence. But for many men, the shame is compounded by the shame of not being able to keep their wives under control. Among this group, a “real man” would be able to keep her under control. Moreover, the police tend to share these same traditional gender role expectations. This adds to the legal and regulatory presumption that the offender is a man. As a result, the police are reluctant to arrest women for domestic assault. Women know this. That is, they know they are likely to be able to get away with it. As in the case of other crimes, the probability of a woman assaulting her partner is strongly influenced by what she thinks she can get away with.