Trigger warning: This article discusses sexual assault and violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Over the years, the time period home violence has been broadened to the extra correct time period, intimate associate violence, acknowledging that abuse can happen no matter marital standing, gender, or sexual orientation.

When you hear the time period home or intimate associate violence, you in all probability think about a lady with a black eye, fleeing in the center of the night time to flee her batterer. While that picture is correct, it doesn’t seize the depth and breadth of what many ladies expertise. It additionally doesn’t carry into focus the batterer.

I ought to point out that whereas the majority of home violence victims are girls, abuse of males occurs way more typically than you would possibly count on. Data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey signifies that one in six males in the United States have skilled some type of contact sexual violence throughout their lifetime, and 11% of males have skilled contact sexual violence, bodily violence, and/or stalking by an intimate associate.

Intimate associate violence is about energy and management and it could take many types. John Gottman and Neil Jacobson studied violent relationships and wrote the compelling e-book When Men Batter Women. From their work, we will higher acknowledge the traits of the most harmful batterers, the “Pit Bulls” and “Cobras.”

Pit Bulls have stereotypical traits of a vicious canine latching on and not letting go. These males are emotionally depending on their companions. They worry abandonment and are controlling, jealous, and react violently to perceived betrayal. Cobras, like the venomous snake, assault their associate with out warning. They have sociopathic, delinquent traits and a pathological want for energy and management. Their habits is calculating and sadistic. The e-book additionally discusses bodily aggression in {couples} that’s not rooted in management and intimidation, however fairly is situational in nature, and doubtlessly treatable in {couples} remedy.

In intimate relationships, associate rape is one among the some ways males can exert energy and management over girls. It is the most underreported type of rape, and in lots of states marital rape remains to be thought of a lesser crime than rape by a stranger. In truth, until 1975, each state had a “marital exemption” that allowed a husband to rape his spouse with out worry of authorized penalties. It was solely in 1993, 25 years in the past, that each state and the District of Columbia handed legal guidelines towards marital rape. However, it’s nonetheless harder for a spouse-victim to show that she didn’t consent to her husband than it might be to show non-consent with a stranger.

The asymmetrical energy dynamics of sexual assault are staggering. In the US alone, practically 23 million girls and 1.7 million males have been victims of accomplished or tried rape. According to the CDC, for feminine rape victims, an estimated 99% had male solely perpetrators and for male rape victims, 79.3% had male solely perpetrators.

Women worldwide have trudged by vulnerability and disgrace to share their painful #MeToo tales. Many have lastly discovered the braveness to talk out about the unspeakable on social media, in remedy, with their pals and households, and on tv. These courageous girls have endured harassment, ridicule, blame, and loss of life threats. Their braveness is inspiring different victims to talk out. Without them, we’d by no means see change.

#MeToo empowered girls to inform their tales, however they have been typically tales about nameless perpetrators (an ex, a former classmate, a neighbor). With intimate associate violence, it feels riskier as a result of the perpetrator can simply be recognized, and it might result in additional violence. Another distinction is that in the #MeToo motion, a number of girls could also be figuring out the identical perpetrator, including to the credibility of the claims.

When girls report sexual assault by a stranger, they typically achieve extra sympathy than girls in violent intimate relationships. Rape by a stranger is clearly assault, however many fail to view intimate associate violence in the identical manner. They see girls willingly staying in these relationships and this results in sufferer blaming.

In When Men Batter Women, Gottman and Jacobson talk about the complicated nature of violent relationships. Battered girls can really feel emotionally related to their associate and have nice worry of leaving them. Trying to go away a violent relationship can escalate the hazard of additional battering. For girls to go away violent relationships they should be ready and have rigorously deliberate their escape to security.

It is usually uncomfortable for males to debate intimate associate violence or sexual assault. It could really feel like criticism of their complete gender. At the coronary heart of those discussions are points regarding energy and management, a subject that that should be examined with a broader lens.

The actuality is that for millennia, males have wielded far reaching energy. When energy is challenged, there’s at all times backlash. In 2020 we’ll rejoice the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment which gave girls acquired the proper to vote. The motion didn’t begin in 1920. Women had been organizing and protesting for many years. Since that point, girls have engaged in battles for reproductive rights to handle their very own our bodies, for equal pay, and the shattering of the glass ceiling in enterprise and politics. Men didn’t need to combat for these items.

Change is sluggish and the highway is bumpy. We don’t at all times acknowledge the nuances in how energy and management are turned over to males, however even the language we use is problematic. In his viral TED talk, Jackson Katz reminds us that the phrases we use put the duty of ending sexual assault on girls, not on their male perpetrators. We cite statistics of what number of girls are raped every year, however not what number of males rape them. We speak about what number of women get pregnant, however not what number of boys impregnate them.

Katz goes on to say:

The use of the passive voice has political results. It shifts the focus off of males and boys and onto women and girls. Even the time period “violence against women” is problematic. It’s a passive development. There is not any lively agent in the sentence. It’s a foul factor that occurs to girls, however once you take a look at that time period “violence against women,” no one is doing it to them. Men aren’t even part of it.

This is the language that lends itself to sufferer blaming and makes home violence and sexual assault girls’s points. It leaves males out of the equation fully.

Women can’t and shouldn’t bear the duty alone for creating change the place intimate associate violence or sexual assault are involved. Many emotionally intelligent men are talking out as allies. These are the males, the admirable males, who settle for affect from girls, respect them, honor them, and share energy and management. They are demonstrating nice braveness and vulnerability by standing up towards the message to “man up.”

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month involves an finish, let’s not overlook the courageous survivors of intimate associate violence. Their #MeToo tales matter, too.


Domestic Violence Awareness Month advanced from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to attach advocates throughout the nation who have been working to finish violence towards girls and their youngsters. The “Day of Unity” quickly advanced into per week, and in October of 1987, the first National Domestic Violence Awareness Month was noticed. In 1989 Congress handed Public Law 101-112, formally designating October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

To get assist, name 800-799-SAFE. You also can get assist by e mail or stay chat on the National Domestic Violence Hotline contact page.


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