Our culture is a hard place to be a man, and even harder for men who are abused. The models of manhood we hold up are more caricatures than truth. On the one hand, you get TV shows like Raymond and King of Queens where men are clueless, large, children who have to be nagged into responsibility and adulthood by their wives.
At the other end of ridiculousness is the picture of the action hero who gets shot twice, stabbed 4 times, thrown off a building, and pummeled for 10 straight minutes only to get up and save the day.
While both of these models of men might make for good mindless entertainment, neither of these are accurate and perhaps part of the reason we can’t fathom a world where men are abused.
Why Men Who Are Abused Don’t Talk About It
Also unhelpful is the notion that men are always the perpetrators of abuse and mistreatment, but never the victim. As specialists in working with emotional abuse, much of the content we publish in our articles and videos refers to the man as the abuser and the woman as the victim. This is because, statistically speaking, men are more often the perpetrator of the abuse. But we want to make it clear that this is not always the case. And we want to make provision for the healing of men’s hearts when they have been mistreated.
Being on the receiving end of mistreatment—whether physical or emotional—can be a difficult thing for men to talk about. The reasons for that are many, but some of the most common are:
- The mythology mentioned above in which manhood is equated with being invulnerable, and words like “victimization” and “abused” are seen as emasculating.
- Cultural mandates like, “Boys don’t cry,” and “Never let them see you sweat,” suggest that particular feelings like sadness or anxiety are signs of weakness and will result in a “losing” position.
- The fear that if painful feelings are ever brought to the surface, they will be overwhelming and run out of control.
Men Are Whole People
The problem with the list above is that it is dishonoring to men’s hearts and everything listed is founded on lies. Real men are whole people; not one-dimensional infants or cyborgs, but rather, people whose strength comes from emotional honesty and transparency. Heroes are not people without fear, but people who push through fear to still show up for others. And feelings, while intense at times, don’t have to run amuck and govern our lives.
Men, if your heart has been mistreated and mishandled, there are some really good resources out there for you. If reading is your thing, consider Wild at Heart (Eldredge) or Heart of a Warrior (Thompson). And of course, we at the Marriage Recovery Center are also here to help. We want MRC to be a safe place where men and women both can bring their pain and find healing and hope. Your heart matters to us. You matter to us.
As I mentioned above, Marriage Recovery Center is still up and running, so if you feel like you need extra support in this time, please reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or contact our Client Care Team.