Help Is Out There:
A How-To Guide For Battered And Abused Men

A Short Story by Scott Warfe
Written using the suggestion "You are sleeping, you are sleeping, I will make you be sleeping."
Originally featured on 01-21-2011
As part of our series "The Benefit of Doubt: Stories Written to Explore Domestic Violence and Abuse"

Each year, over 850,000 men are abused by intimate female partners. Of that 850,000, only 37.5% actually reported the abuse to the authorities. When compared to the nearly 63% of women who report their cases of abuse, the number of men who remain silent despite being injured is staggering, though not entirely surprising. Indeed, society puts an unfair burden on men to fulfill certain standards, requiring men to be physically and mentally tough, sexually aggressive, good at sports, reluctant to do house work, averse to discussions of emotional issues, negligent of significant others, etc. While metrosexuality and the advent of “emo” music may have eased the restraints of masculinity, men are still very much required to emit a certain machismo. Failure to do so may result in derogatory name calling, such as “Pussy” (chiefly colloquial, meaning “exhibiting characteristics associated with a cat”), “Bitch” (a term indicating the feminine gender of a canine), and “chickendick” (compound noun, combining "chicken-heart" with “little-dick,” meaning “one whose testicular fortitude is equal to or lesser than that of a chicken”). In extreme cases of derision, abused men are often labeled “homosexuals” by their peers, which is, as studies indicate, can result in severe psychological anguish. In short, abused men must not only withstand physical injury, but must also survive existential trauma.

 

All hope is not lost, however, as there are ways to avoid such trauma while still obtaining help. Though these practices are not fail-proof, studies show that they were effective in 75% of half the documented cases. The following list of practices to avoid and to follow must be adhered to carefully, as deviation from any technique could result in further suffering.

 

What to Avoid:

 

1. Crying. While studies attest to the therapeutic value of crying, I must strongly discourage this action, unless you are alone and without danger of being recognized. If you do decide to cry, make sure you have eye drops available to reduce any redness or puffiness. Failure to do so will alienate you from your peers. As a last resort, you can feign an allergic reaction. But, be careful when using this excuse, as it tends to result in unwanted inquiry and conversation.

 

2. Fighting back: The only thing worse than a man who is abused is a man who abuses. The public humility associated with male batterers is far greater than that associated with male batterees. As such, it is paramount that you do not defend yourself during violent interactions.

 

3. Make-up: Due to your lack of experience with the application of make-up, the risk of it being recognized by one of your peers is great. This would result in unwanted gossip about your possible weekend exploits, thereby further damaging your already fragile psyche. Ultimately, men who are battered and bruised are actually quite masculine, so long as the bruises were received legitimately. So, there is little need to cover bruises. Instead, concoct a story describing the injury as a result of the following manly activities: training in mixed-martial arts, drunken bar fighting, hunting, teaching child how to fight, or a BMX/motorcycle accident (note: it is important that you use the term “BMX,” as “bicycle” would result in emasculation).

 

4. Justice: Given the likely size differential between you and your abuser, it is highly unlikely that you will find help from the authorities. In fact, studies suggest that seeking out help from the judicial system is counterproductive, as authorities will likely be suspicious of your motives. It is highly unlikely that you are in possession of the irrefutable evidence needed for the penal system to take action, unless, of course, you have a notarized statement of guilt (which, if possible, I highly recommend obtaining). Further, involving authorities is more likely to instigate your abuser, rather than remedy the problem. Not only will it alert the neighborhood that of your inability to protect yourself against a woman half your size, but it could also lead to your abuser fabricating a story to avoid arrest. Should she claim that you abused her, then you will undoubtedly be the one penalized.

 

What to Do:

 

1. Act out of character: When people think your problems are wholly psychological, they are more inclined to get involved. Certainly, this disturbed front must be tempered, as mental instability can be as repulsive as emotional dejection can be endearing. Therefore, deviation from your normal character must be done tactfully. Start by avoiding eye contact during conversation. It is improbable that this act alone will warrant intervention from a peer; however, it will be enough to put your behavior at the forefront of peer scuttlebutt. Once news of your peculiar demeanor is circulating through the community grapevine, you must reinforce your behavior with further character abnormalities. To do so, I suggest that you begin talking to yourself. Take care to moderate this practice, as there is a risk of becoming associated with a personality disorder, which would severely injure your chances of getting help. So, talk to yourself when your alone at the office or have a private moment at a family/friend’s house, reciting the same phrase continuously until you are joined by the companion (the queerer the phrase, the better. I suggest: “You are sleeping, you are sleeping, I will be make you be sleeping.” But, you are free to improvise). Then, abruptly stop talking, and act as though you are surprised. If your companion makes an inquiry into what you were saying, simply tell them you were singing Chris Brown’s “Forever.”

 

2.Leave subtle hints: Suggestive Facebook status updates can increase awareness of your plight, thereby easing tension should you choose to seek out help. Consider the following examples:

 

a.       "This is going to be a 4 cup kind of day. (Insert Wife's Name Here) nearly beat me to death last night. ;)"

Note: The emoticon is of the utmost importance in this status, as it suggests the "beating" that you endured the previous night was sexual, not physical. This is an important distinction, as a vibrant sex life can substantially improve your standing amongst your peers.

 

b.      "Every 37.8 seconds, somewhere in America a man is battered. Approximately, 850,000 men are physically assaulted by their intimate partner each year. Only 37.5% of male abuse is reported. REPOST THIS IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW IS BEING ASSAULTED BY AN INTIMATE PARTNER. Sadly, I don't think many of you will repost this."

Note: Phrasing is a significant aspect of this post. Consider the manner in which I instructed reposting: "if you or anyone you know is being assaulted." Not only does such language suggest a plea for help, but it also raises awareness to the seriousness of your condition, which should lessen the emasculating name calling later.

 

Hints cont.: At work, disable your screen saver and leave a male DV support website up on your computer monitor when you step away from your desk. You can also leave male DV printouts in the office printer or copier. If the printout is disregarded by your co-workers, politely make an announcement to the office asking if anybody had seen it. Other effective hint-dropping practices include, but are not limited to: listening to DV songs at your desk, carrying a DV book with you at all times (I highly recommend I, Tina by Tina Turner because it is a great conversation starter, but feel free to find something that better fits your taste), and mass-emailing your contact list a DV newsletter only to retract it as “accidental.”

 

The goal is to create a scenario in which you are approached by a concerned friend, family member, or coworker. Once confronted, you can appear unaffected by your partner’s abusive behavior, thereby giving you the opportunity to project an air of masculinity onto the concerned party. You must avoid being perceived as a victim, as society’s definition of manliness does not include being the object of abuse. Instead, the more apathetic and nonchalant you are, the more unconcerned your friends and family will be. While this will be torturous in the short term, over the long-term this will be most beneficial, as you will be able to maintain the idiosyncrasies that define you as a male.

 

Eventually, continued odd behavior will force concerned friends or family members to take action. Until that point, you must:

 

3. Ride out the hysteria: Simply put, you must weather the storm. You must endure the madness while waiting for help to arrive. Though some other methods suggest that you ought to seek help, you cannot. The embarrassment you would be forced to swallow would be far greater than the abuse you already stomach. If you want to avoid such name calling and the stigma of emasculation, then you must strictly adhere to this method. Even when the abuse is unimaginably bad, remember your other options are far worse. Ultimately, you can take solace in knowing that this technique worked most of the time for some, and part of the time for others. Those are great odds, all things considered.

Read More By Scott Warfe

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