Ali AM, father of two, is terrified of his wife. He claims that she has an ‘almost violent’ temper, one that leads to verbal abuse, and at times, physical. His suffering remained a secret for more than five years.
Speaking to ‘Emirates 24|7’, Ali said, “Other guys look at me and say if I was a real man I would be the one controlling her, not the other way around. I prefer that we solve the problem, not make it worse, especially for the sake of our children.”
Men being mistreated and controlled by their wives – it’s a side of domestic abuse that you rarely hear about.
“‘Spousal Abuse’ can be either gender. Most often people believe that only women are abused by men,” said Dr Raymond Hamden, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist.
He continued, “Control is a key word to describing the aggressor who tries to validate a false sense of ‘power’.”
Dr Hamden urges spouses to approach a psychologist and find solutions for both parties willing to assess and modify behaviour whether the aggressor or the victim.
Ali explains why he hasn’t sought any advice.
“It’s more than embarrassing for me to ask for help regarding my wife and complain how she hits me sometimes with her shoes, sometimes she slaps me, even in front of our children. This shows the disrespect she has, when I have never hit her,” he said.
This is a clear example of men feeling too ashamed or too macho to admit they are being beaten up by a woman, as mentioned by Dr Hamden.
“Most cases of domestic abuse violence are reported by women, however, men may be more willing to call a helpline rather than appear at a health facility. When they receive treatment, they will likely lie at the intake saying they ‘had a bad fall’.”
The expert said he’s dealt with many such cases received in the past and noticed a similar pattern.
According to Dr Hamden, the latest findings from the British Crime Survey reveal that 17 men were killed by their partners in England and Wales last year.
Forty per cent of reported domestic abuse victims were male (although this includes assaults by male relatives and partners).
Incredibly, if these figures are to be believed, more married men suffered abuse at the hands of their spouse than married women (2.3 per cent of married men were recorded to have complained about domestic abuse compared with 1.8 per cent of married women).
Some of the abuse towards men is a lot more emotional than physical.
Majid S said, “My wife complains and nags almost every day. Even when I come home after a long working day she makes me feel like staying out after work and returning home late, hoping she’s asleep.”
One husband said it affects the physical features, too. “If you look at my pictures before and after marriage, you will notice that I only started losing hair after living with my wife,” said Khalid.
Apart from the children, what other reason could there be for men to stay with the abuse?
Dr Hamden explains that the reasons are various. “Battered partners get conditioned to the process and may believe this is what they deserve.
“Excuses to stay together can range from monetary benefits to further victimisation by the wife who may suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder.”
With all this in mind, at what point should men seek help and re-evaluate their future? Dr Hamden says men normally seek medical or psychological assistance when there is serious physical damage.
“This is done secretly, fearing that the aggressive wife ‘will get really angry when she finds out’ that he breached the confidence of their relationship”, he said.
One husband is contemplating speaking to a psychologist before his situation gets out of hand.
Sunil VK, said, “The problem is our marriage is slowly turning into a minefield, step on a wrong place anytime and it will all become a disaster. “I don’t know how I would react if this abuse turned physical, it hasn’t reached that stage yet and I hope it never does.”
Over 500,000 Saudis beaten by wives
More than half-a-million Saudi men have revealed that they are systematically beaten up by their wives but most of them will not resort to court.
The complaints by the husbands were revealed by the Riyadh-based Waei centre for social advice, which said it received six new complaints on Monday.
“We have received more than 557,000 complaints by Saudi men who are beaten up by their wives and needed advice,” the centre’s manager Sheikh Adel Al Mutawa said.
“Most of them do not want their names to be known and want to keep the issue as a secret…they just do not want to take their wives to court to avert embarrassment,” he told the Saudi Arabic language daily ‘Sabq’.