When many of us hear the words “domestic violence,” we automatically assume the victim would be a female and the attacker would be a male. After all, men are traditionally viewed as the more aggressive of the two sexes, and the victims of most domestic abuse situations are indeed women. But a surprising number of domestic violence episodes do involve women as the aggressors, creating a new category of victim known as the battered husband. An abused husband suffers the same emotional, verbal and physical abuse as a battered wife, but is less likely to report these crimes to authorities.

The relationship between a battered husband and his abusive spouse can be very complex. The husband often employs the same defensive tactics as a battered wife, including denial, withdrawal and disconnection. The shame of owning up to a spouse’s abusive behavior could cause a man to defend her around others. Some excuses may be that his own actions triggered her violent response, or she’s only reacting to post-natal stress. Denial can be a powerful coping mechanism for men in this situation, especially if they dread the idea of having meaningful discussions with their abusive spouses.

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