Men are victims of abuse too

I was in an abusive relationship once — she would yell and scream at me when she didn't get her way, then she would criticise the way I looked, the way I performed in bed, say I was less than average size, and say I was too poor for her to build with. When she calmed down she would say I should forgive her because she was bipolar, and during her 'episodes' she had no control over what she said.

I stayed in this abusive relationship for three years, from lower sixth form to the first year of college, when I dropped out because of how much this woman had messed me up mentally.

I'm in a much better place now. I have a new lease on life, was able to restart my studies after some years, and through a gender course I did I was able to identify what I'd experienced as emotional abuse, and recognised how many men suffer in silence.

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We all talk about rights and freedoms and gender issues but no one talks about a particular marginalised group — that is, men who are abused. Often we're not hit, so there are no physical scars, but we still endure wounds from women who threaten our fragile masculinity with their hurtful words. And the worst part is, they think they're doing nothing wrong and think that by apologising or blaming their actions on emotional issues, what they did was okay.

I've long moved on from that girl (or she long moved on from me), as home girl found herself another man to focus her attention on, and dumped me via e-mail. By the time I could recover, there she was in class, stuck on another guy who had become the centre of her world, while mine was crumbling.

I share this story to say that men are victims of abuse too, and it's an issue that needs broader public attention. Many of us endure physical abuse too, and we can't talk about it or report it lest we be seen as weaklings. Women have power in their tongues, and they use it to inflict hurt through insults that hit below the belt — where they know it will hurt. Then they fake the tears and put on the crying face as if they themselves are the victims. And they are supported by a society that believes that gender issues, and rights, belong to one gender only.

But just like how we have violence against women prevention programmes, we need to realise that violence against men is also a huge problem — whether it's physical or emotional. It's a problem that needs the requisite laws and support as backative so we can feel comfortable reporting and talking about our experiences. Because when we are not able to talk about what happened and get help, all that does is leave a bunch of victims in society who have not been able to get the required help, or therapy, to assist them with coping.

I say violence against men is a topic we need to have a conference for, too, and will the abused men please sign up!

Jevaughnie Smith is a second-year communications student. Send feedback to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

BY JEVAUGHNIE SMITH

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