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By Mark DaCosta- Domestic violence against men is specifically physical abuse towards men in a domestic setting such as in marriage or cohabitation (living together). The term, though, is used by many experts to refer to any type of abuse including emotional, mental, psychological, and sexual abuse by an intimate partner. The modern term for domestic abuse is “intimate partner violence (IPV). This article is about IPV against a male victim by any partner.
As with domestic violence against women, IPV against men may constitute a crime. Unfortunately, though, in Guyana and other jurisdictions, men who report IPV are likely to face social stigma regarding their perceived lack of machismo or other denigrations of their masculinity. Additionally, IPV against men is generally less recognised by society than IPV against women, this fact can act as a further block to men reporting their situation.
There are exceedingly few reports of IPV made to the Guyana Police Force by men (GPF). In June 2021, Commander, of Region Two, (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Superintendent of Police Crystal Robinson said that throughout her entire career, only on two occasions had she seen men speak out against their female abusers. The Commander said, “In my years in the GPF, I’ve come across about two reports where females had raped men. These matters went to court, but the men never turned up. I also know of a woman abusing her husband. He did go to court and she was fined, because [the husband] said, he doesn’t want her to be incarcerated. She was fined, and eventually, they separated.” Commander Robinson urged Guyanese men to report instances of abuse. The Commander said too, that communities should be fully supportive of men who find themselves in abusive relationships.
For purposes of this article, Village Voice News reached out to eight persons in positions of political office, social work, or policing. All eight reported knowing of at least one man who is or has been in an abusive relationship with a female.
Experts have devised specific criteria that establish the existence of IPV in a relationship. According to a report by the Mayo Clinic, “Abusive relationships always involve an imbalance of power and control. An abuser uses intimidating, hurtful words and behaviours to control his or her partner. It might not be easy to recognise domestic violence against men. Early in the relationship, the abuser might seem attentive, generous and protective in ways that later turn out to be controlling and frightening. Initially, the abuse might appear as isolated incidents. Your partner might apologise and promise not to do it again.”
The report lists the following signs of abuse against men:
- Calls you names, insults you or puts you down
- Prevents you from going to work or school
- Stops you from seeing family members or friends
- Tries to control how you spend money, where you go or what you wear
- Acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
- Gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs
- Tries to control whether you can see a health care provider
- Threatens you with violence or a weapon
- Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets
- Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
- Blames you for his or her violent behaviour or tells you that you deserve it
- Threatens to tell friends, family, colleagues or community members your sexual orientation or gender identity
Guyanese men are well aware that reporting domestic abuse or IPV can have negative consequences including stigmatisation, ridicule, attempts by the abuser to damage your reputation, among others. Experts, though, encourage both men and women to leave abusive relationships.
While in an abusive relationship, experts advise that some preparations and precautions should be taken by the victim. The victim should create a safety plan including the following:
- Call a domestic violence hotline for advice. Make the call at a safe time — when the abuser isn’t around — or from a friend’s house or other safe location.
- Pack an emergency bag that includes items you’ll need when you leave, such as extra clothes and keys. Leave the bag in a safe place. Keep important personal papers, money and prescription medications handy so that you can take them with you on short notice.
- Know exactly where you’ll go and how you’ll get there.
- Protect your communications and your phone.
- Erase your search history.
- Be vigilant.
Guyanese who are in abusive relationships may obtain help by calling the Help and Shelter Hotline on 227-3454.