The most recent state numbers show almost 28 percent of victims of family violence are men. Despite that number, few come forward to seek help. When they do, they often find programs geared towards women and children.
The Family Place in Dallas provides shelter for victims of family violence. Now, the non-profit hopes to open the first Texas shelter for battered men.
Interview Highlights: Paige Flink…
…On how ‘family violence’ is defined:
“The city of Dallas as well as the state of Texas [considers] anyone who lives together…as a family violence statistic. But we are still seeing an increase in intimate partner violence of females on males.”
…On the increase in partner violence against men:
“Publicly, people are talking about the fact that violence in relationships is wrong. We’ve moved to gender-
neutral language in the way we communicate about it, which is one thing I think that makes a man feel like he’s covered as well.
We’re also seeing an increase in crime of juvenile females. I think part of that is something that’s happening in our culture and especially in young women that live in poverty and have used violence to escape or protect themselves. They find it a little more natural to use in a relationship.
The other thing I’m anticipating is more same-sex relationships coming forward and seeking assistance. The more we recognize and respect same-sex couples, the more same-sex couples will come forward, because those are the same kind of relationship as any other.”
…On why men who’ve suffered from family violence don’t come forward:
“They have so much shame – I mean, shame happens to women as well – but for men, we have cultured them to ‘be a man, stand up, not cry,’ all those things, and sometimes a mark of a man is ‘keeping your woman in her place.’ If you’re a man who doesn’t use violence in a relationship, it’s hard for people to imagine. ‘You’re a bigger guy than she is, how could you be a victim of domestic violence?’”
…On why the Family Place decided to pursue a shelter for men:
“We’re still learning about a woman’s use of violence against a man, and so we also think therapeutically, it would be better to have the women heal in their facility and a man to heal in his facility. Secondly, the services may need to be a little different. The kind of support that you give may need to be a little different…we just don’t know [much about family violence against men]. On top of that, we don’t have room in our shelter for anyone else. We are sheltering men in hotels right now, which is not our preference.”
If you or somebody you know is a victim of domestic violence and needs help, call the National Domestic Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).