How many of us know someone that has been a victim of some form of domestic violence? I’m certain that a lot of hands would be rising in the air right now, were we in some form of room together. Now let me ask this – how many of those people that we know are men?
How many of us would *swear* that we don’t know any men that have ever been abused by a domestic partner? And yet, studies show that nearly 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of domestic violence in their lifetime (https://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/). For so many, that statistic seems flawed, wrong, impossible. Yet, in one of the most high-profile cases in recent memory, the actress Amber Heard is accused of horrific abuse on her former partner – Johnny Depp. This comes *after* she not only accused HIM of domestic abuse, but went on to see him fired from jobs AND for her to become a “human rights activist”. The male in the relationship – the one assumed to have more power (In this case, in multiple ways due to his income and fame.) – dealt with what appears to be terrible cruelty and physical abuse from his female partner.
I know there will be some out there that decide Depp must be “weak” to “allow” something like this to happen to him. But to make such a claim completely ignores the dynamics at play in an abusive relationship. It’s about POWER, and who controls it. I’m guessing in this case, Heard knew that people would be more likely to believe her over him (which, ultimately, proved correct). He also had a much larger career to think potentially lose (which, ultimately, also began to happen). Often, it only takes that first time to set a pattern – one that can be hard to escape from. All victims feel some sort of embarrassment – but it can be worse for men. There is often a huge sense of denial – but it can be worse for men. And to complicate factors, there is often a massive dearth of resources for men to get help, simply because they are so often overlooked as potential victims.
Hearing about this sort of thing is heartbreaking – but it should also be infuriating. Domestic abuse is NOT just a male-on-female issue. It’s a PERSON-ON-PERSON issue, and it happens to gays, to straights, to trans, to men, to women…there IS NO LIMITING FACTOR. And yet, so much of the perception is that it’s the women getting abused, and so much of the resources are designed to help only them – so others are getting lost with nothing to turn to.
Folks, it’s likely that you know *at least* one male that has been a victim of domestic violence at some point in his lifetime. I GUARANTEE you know at least one *person* – though you may not realize it. And if you *ARE* that person? There is help. Find a friend, or a family member. Call a hotline, or find information on a trusted website. GET. HELP. Because domestic abuse doesn’t just…end. It only stops when the victim is able to decide they’ve had enough and to break free. As for me, I honestly hope that this saga with Depp and Heard will highlight an issue that has been far too long in the dark. He tries to lead a private life – and I get that. But this will help to give voice to the millions of voiceless men who have been too afraid to speak up before now.