Domestic violence victims are commonly women, but men can experience it, too. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, males should not be omitted from an unbiased conversation about mistreatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines intimate partner violence (IPV) as “abuse aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship.” Physical violence; sexual violence; stalking; and psychological aggression can be intertwined in IPV, or domestic violence.
According to the CDC’s data from CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), “about 41% of women and 26% of men experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported an intimate partner violence-related impact during their lifetime.”
Although millions of men have reportedly experienced domestic violence episodes, they remain a lesser acknowledged population. Sparse resources are often available to men who may suffer at the hands of an abuser. A California-based community-based organization called Valley Oasis includes a 65-bed capacity shelter for “men, women and children of all ages who are victims of domestic violence,” according to information provided on the website. The rare approach allows men to receive supportive services, making it “one of the first shelters in the country to provide services to men.”
Men are burdened with gender-based stereotypes. Sometimes they skip reporting incidents or speaking up.
Zaccheus Miles, a man who experienced domestic violence, serves as an example that men can be domestic violence survivors. The Dallas, Texas-based public relations professional and nonprofit leader recalls a time in his life when a nearly two-year relationship became rocky after starting off well. The approximate year was 2016.
“It was a lot of physical abuse and also verbal abuse,” Miles said. “It was almost as if it happened in stages. It gradually grew to the physical side of it.”
Miles was called derogatory names. Altercations became physical. At first, he was shocked and in disbelief about what unfolded. He realized the person who mistreated him was upset and wondered if the first time was a “mishap,” but abusive behavior was displayed again, according to Miles. In the beginning stages he did not want his family and friends involved in the predicament, so he kept everything he endured private.
“When you’re in a domestic violence situation, most of the time the victims of domestic violence normally do not fight back. They’re normally the ones that take all the hits; the punches; the pushes; the shoving; because most of the time we’re either afraid, scared, or truly like trying to give the person a chance,” Miles said.
The pair lived together. Miles thought he and his partner would get through it.
“I dealt with it for a very long time, for about I would say about six months or so,” he said.
A time came when the police were called. They observed scratches on Miles’ face. He elected not to press charges. By that time, Miles’ immediate family found out what was happening in his life. However, the presence of scratches on his face periodically impacted him leaving home for work. He was also an entrepreneur in business who needed to travel to meet with clients.
“It was embarrassing because at the time, I was producing fashion shows for other designers. It was one of my biggest highlights of my career at the time, and I was going through these things,” Miles said.
Miles’ full-time employer allowed him to relocate and work for the company in another city. Opening up a little helped Miles to get tools and resources in the South. Therapy helped Miles to get through the ordeal, too.
Time has been kinder to Miles. He later became the founder and president of a luxury branding business called Signed Luxe Agency. Miles also founded The Zaccheus Miles Foundation. According to website details, the nonprofit organization was created to “empower communities through educational and charitable efforts to individuals in the unprivileged and impoverished families.” Miles noted that all victims of domestic violence are included in the population who are served.
Miles wants men to know that they should speak up, if they are secretly enduring an abusive relationship.
“Find another brother or another male that you can speak to. You don’t have to come out publicly about it. You don’t have to tell the whole entire world, but find somebody that you can speak to that can help you navigate through it because if you try to deal with it yourself, something’s going to happen that should not have happened,” Miles said. He also recommended therapy.
Learn more about IPV via https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ipv/IPV-factsheet_2022.pdf. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached by calling 1-800-799-7233.