Trigger Warning: Men Can Be Abused, Too


I think it’s important to remember that men can be victims too. I know what you’re thinking: “But men are always the perpetrators of domestic violence!” And while that may be largely true, it’s also important to acknowledge that men can be victims too. Over 43 million women and 38 million men have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Men who are victims of intimate partner violence often don’t have the same support structure or resources as women when it comes to leaving abusive partners. There are more than 4,000 intimate partner violence programs in the U.S., but very few actually offer the same services to men as they do women. I know that men are capable of being abused by their partners — and it happens more often than you’d think. But what about other instances? What if the man is less famous? What if the man is less powerful or confident? We live in a world where people think that men are “supposed” to be strong and confident — and that makes them less likely to report abuse or seek help in any situation. That’s what I want to change.

I’m not saying that men don’t perpetrate intimate partner violence either (they do), but there is still a lot we need to do in terms of taking the issue seriously when it involves men. This isn’t just about making sure they have access to resources — it’s also about changing the way we talk about these issues so that we are able to truly address them at their root cause: toxic masculinity and its role in our society today. As someone who has been a victim of intimate partner violence, I believe strongly that we need to be talking about this issue in ways that don’t perpetuate stereotypes about gender and power dynamics.

We’ve seen a lot of comments online lately about Johnny Depp’s relationship with Amber Heard, and how she allegedly abused him. A lot of people are saying that it’s not possible for a man to be abused by a woman and that if he was, he must have deserved it. We should remember that male victims of intimate partner violence have a hard time escaping the cycle of violence. That’s why it’s so important for us to reach out to men and let them know that they are not alone in their suffering, and that there is help out there if they’re willing to ask for it.

I believe in this cause so strongly because it shows us all how toxic masculinity can be harmful to us all. It tells us that men are “powerful” and “dominant,” and therefore cannot be victims or survivors. But we need to challenge those ideas because they’re not true. Men aren’t the only ones who abuse their partners — women do it too. And both genders can experience abuse at the hands of their significant others or spouses, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Domestic violence is not about size, gender, or strength,” says Jan Brown, executive director and founder of the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men. “It’s about abuse, control, and power, and getting out of dangerous situations and getting help, whether you are a woman being abused, or a man.” A man can be abused by his romantic partner just as easily as a woman can be abused by her husband or boyfriend. We have to stop framing intimate partner violence as something that only happens to women by men. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.

I believe that it’s important for us to talk about intimate partner violence against men because it helps us understand that all people deserve respect and safety in their relationships. The first step to addressing intimate partner violence is getting people to believe that it’s a problem at all; the second step, however, is making sure that we don’t do more harm than good by conflating men as abusers. It’s important to remember the “bystander effect,” or the phenomenon that if many people witness an emergency situation, but no one steps in, then no one will take action. There are plenty of statistics that show that when abuse does happen, it’s women and children who are harmed more often — nearly twice as much, in fact. However, if we’re not careful, this can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy: if everyone keeps saying that men don’t get abused, then they won’t come forward and they won’t be taken seriously. There is a distinguishing factor between battered women and battered men, explains Brown: Men are more likely to be embarrassed by their abuse, making them less likely to report it, according to the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men website, which states men often worry, “What will people think if they knew I let a woman beat up on me?” and “I don’t want to be laughed at; no one would believe me.”

As we have seen with Johnny Depp’s relationship with Amber Heard, things aren’t always black and white — there can be a lot of nuances. When one person suffers domestic abuse, the other person is the abuser. However, you can be both the abused and the abuser, and while the dynamics of your relationship may change from case to case, that doesn’t negate the fact that you were both in an abusive situation. We should be talking about intimate partner violence more than we are — and we should especially be doing so in ways that don’t rely on tired stereotypes about gender identity or sexual orientation.

I want people to understand that intimate partner violence isn’t just affecting women: it’s affecting everyone who gets abused by someone they love. It means that we need to stop assuming that men are always the perpetrators and women are always the victims when it comes to intimate partner violence— it means we also need to start taking male survivors seriously when they speak up about their experiences with abuse. It is important for men to have spaces where they can talk about their experiences and feel safe, both in person and online. And hopefully, more men will do that speaking up, being heard, and finding support.



  1. “Fast Facts: Preventing Intimate Partner Violence”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Nov. 2021,
  2. “Help for Battered Men.” WebMD,
  3. “NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Fact Sheet.” The Nation’s Leading Grassroots Voice on Domestic Violence,

If you or anyone you know is in a violent relationship, please get help. There is no place for intimate partner violence in our society. If you need help getting out, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (in the US) can be reached at 1–800–799–7233 and


[Trigger warning: These videos contain material about sexual and dating violence.]

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