In recent times I have become aware of the extent of abuse in our world.
The publication of the review of Mandy Smith’s memoir Secrets in Big Sky Country and the comments it attracted enlightened me as to how widespread this insidious practice is.
As I say in my review I am not a victim of childhood sexual abuse but I am a victim of domestic violence.
As a male this is very difficult to admit to. I was brought up at a time when we were told that boys don’t cry and that being male was taking on the world and whatever happened you accepted and got on with life, you didn’t make a fuss about anything as you didn’t want to besmirch your own opinion or that of your parents of being male.
I remember a day in primary school when I fell over and badly grazed my knee and as I sat nursing my knee and the pain was overwhelming and I was fighting like crazy to hold back the tears the voice of my father was echoing in my head “Boys don’t cry”.
In making a declaration such as “I am a victim of domestic violence” you have the immediate feeling that you are putting yourself at risk by coming out with such a statement.
What are people going to think?
You feel as though you should go into the back room, lock the door and wait till everyone outside has gone away and hopefully forgotten what you just said. In that way you can re-enter the world and carry on living in conscious denial.
For a male admitting to being a victim of domestic violence plays at the very source of his ego.
Most men want people to think of them as ok sorts of guys who can climb mountains, build their own Tag Mahal and be the perfect or near to one father to their children.
When you have children who witness the violence then there is the added humiliation of them seeing their father treated in this way.
In my case my children have stuck by me all these years. They have been and are my greatest supporters. I made every effort despite what they saw happen to me to be their father, protect them whenever I could from their tormentor and in later life support them in every way possible.
In my case I refused to have my spirit broken despite every effort of my perpetrators. Something inside me always told me what I was going through was not right and that I would never stoop to their level.
At the time I never saw myself as a victim of domestic violence. I think I would have been in denial of such a term preferring to think that my life was what it was and that for the most part I was to blame for much that was happening to me.
It’s so easy in any domestic situation to believe everything you are told. If I had been a better husband, a better provider, a better man then none of this would ever have happened. I used to wake up of a morning thinking of what to do to placate the beast I lived with.
Of course that was the problem. Placating only leads to more grief, more disruption more pain and tears.
It took me more than twenty years to finally say enough is enough and leave and never look back.
What are your thoughts on this issue?
This piece was originally published on Starts at 60 as ‘Abuse, a male perspective’. It was one of our most popular contributions by the Starts at 60 community in 2016.
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