Trigger Warning: This article deals with issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, and fatality

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is reflected on campus by the events and surveys held by the Center for Gender Equity via the Students Vs. Rape Culture (@students_v_rapeculture on Instagram) whose mission is to promote campus awareness on the issue of rape culture to reduce its effects on our student body. 

More often than not, sexual assault also goes hand-in-hand with domestic violence. It’s not October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but there is never a bad time to advocate for victims of any type of interpersonal violence. This is especially prudent, as the world is aflutter as we closely follow the $50 Million defamation case between actors Johnny Depp and his ex-wife, Amber Heard, whose accusations of domestic violence against Depp lost him multiple starring roles. This court case has borne many conversations surrounding domestic violence, especially the often less touched upon the subject of domestic violence against men. 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States alone, equating to nearly 10 million people in one year. One in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner; physical violence includes a range of behaviors, which include but are not limited to physical violence, threats, being sheltered from your support system by your abuser/partner, manipulation, gaslighting, and emotional abuse. Sadly the abusive partner is often able to frame their actions in a light where others may not view them as abusive. 

Women are most likely to experience interpersonal violence at the hands of a partner, which is statistically most likely to be men. For example, 94% of victims in a murder-suicide involving intimate partners are women, and one in five women and one in 71 men have been raped, and of that, 45.3% of women and 29% of men were raped by an intimate partner. We as a society know these statistics to be largely distorted; crimes, especially interpersonal violence are underreported, especially when they involve an intimate partner. We know these numbers are far too low, but why are they all women-heavy? There are possible reasons that there is little data on domestic violence perpetrated by women against men. Men may be more reluctant to report as victims for fear of embarrassment or that they won’t be believed-however many female victims do the same thing, so this doesn’t explain the discrepancy in the statistics. Men also may not recognize or have support systems that help them recognize the behaviors of their partners are abusive, therefore don’t report it. But it is this writer’s belief that women are more likely to get away with domestic violence against men because society views men as having a physical advantage over women; often women are thought to be the victims of these situations rather than the perpetrators, and some incidents are erroneously reported as the woman acting in self-defense. 

We as a society have a duty to protect all the members of society, regardless of their sex or gender. We know women are more likely to be victims of interpersonal violence, but that doesn’t mean they cannot deal it out as well. Men deserve to be protected by our justice system and by our social culture just as much as women do, and both areas need work; we need to dismantle structures that make it easy for victims to go unheard. So take to social media, talk to your support systems, and talk more openly about these subjects; the less taboo it is to talk about, the less taboo it is to seek help. Give survivors a platform, and listen to them, regardless of how they look or who they are, because everyone can be affected by interpersonal violence. But please remember, if someone has given a platform to a survivor, or a specific group impacted by violence, that is not the time to bring up the group you want to talk about; if the only time you bring up men who are abused is when women are talking about their experiences, you’re not an ally to either group. 

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Haley Berger is a Pacific junior and public health major. She enjoys painting, listening to 1970’s R&B, and spending time with her beloved cat, Moose.

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