Domestic Abuse on College Campuses

When men are the victims

By Elise Feltman

Poster advertising Man Talks hanging in the Women's Resources Center
Poster advertising Man Talks hanging in the Women’s Resources Center

Domestic abuse toward Men

October is domestic violence awareness month.  Amidst the crisp weather and colorful leaves, people gather to discuss the issues of physical and mental abuse. Domestic violence is most often represented as being directed at women. However, men can also find themselves the victims of abuse.

According to helpguide.org, “figures suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence are male. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse by women because they feel embarrassed, or they fear they won’t be believed, or worse, that police will assume that since they’re male they are the perpetrator of the violence and not the victim.”

Abusive women, who might not match in physical strength, will resort to alternative types of abuse, such as hitting, biting, punching, kicking, or throwing objects. She may also attack when the male is asleep, use a weapon, or threaten to harm possessions, children and pets. Other forms of abuse include verbal belittling and humiliation, attempts to control by hiding car keys, or making false accusations.

Also found on helpguide.org, “an abused man faces a shortage of resources, skepticism from police, and major legal obstacles, especially when it comes to gaining custody of his children from an abusive mother.” Sure enough, resources for male victims are in short supply on college campuses.

Here at the University of Illinois, it took several resources to discover what the real resources for men were. One of these resources includes Man Talks, an event hosted by the Women’s Resources Center. Some other resources are Sexual Assault 24-Hour Crisis Line (217-384-4444); RACES Rape Advocacy, Counseling, and Education Services (217-344-6298); and the Safe Place, a temporary housing unit for students who experience physical and/or verbal abuse. To contact the Safe Place office, call 217-333-5656, and if it is after hours, call 217-840-2232.

Men Talks is an event help at the Women's Resource Center where men can talk about their role in society.
Man Talks is an event help at the Women’s Resources Center where men can talk about their role in society.

How are men affected by domestic violence?

At Ko-Fusion on Saturday, November 1, the American Association of University Women, or AAUW, hosted a talk given by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Kate Clancy. A faculty member of the University of Illinois, she founded a research project called the Safe Project, whose goal is to provide support for victims of sexual harassment and assault in the scientific fields on college campuses. She provided data demonstrating the plight of both young women and men as they struggle with the effects of sexual harassment and assault.

Her research revealed most of what is already known and understood about sexual harassment in the field. The majority of the victims are females in subordinate positions. She supplied the results of several surveys showing statistics about the different forms and frequency of sexual harassment. However, some of her surveys showed that men also experience sexual harassment. These men were also in subordinate positions in their labs. And even if they did not experience it first hand, men still felt the effects from witnessing it. You can learn more about Professor Clancy’s work on her website.

For more quotes and information, take a listen to this audio package. Kate Clancy will tell you more about her findings, including the story of one young man who was a witness to sexual harassment in his work site. Trang Pham, who is a junior in the Psychology department at the University of Illinois, will also tell you her beliefs on how and why men are affected by domestic abuse. You can also read along to the script.

Where can men go to help themselves?

The University of Illinois provides its students with many resources to contact during emergency situations. Every freshman is required to attend a FYCARE class in order to become educated about the dangers of rape. Students are instructed to use Safe Rides at night in order to avoid walking the streets alone. Students struggling with stress and management are encouraged to visit the Counseling Center for guidance and help. Women can find support and assistance through the Women’s Resources Center. But where can men go to find aid when they need help and support?

The McKinley Health Center gives a list of resources and suggestions for victims of sexual violence, including the Women’s Resources Center. Another resource listed is the RSO, Men Against Sexual Violence, or MASV. This “is a campus group dedicated to eliminating all forms of sexual violence. The focus is on educating men to work towards ending sexual violence, but men and women are invited to join.” However, MASV disbanded this year, and is no longer having meetings.

Resources for male victims of domestic violence did not seem so easily accessible, and were not widely advertised like some of the other campus resources. Even the University of Illinois Police, who handle the domestic disputes when they occur, could not recommend any specific resources for men. They mentioned the Safe Place, a hidden apartment complex designed for victims of abuse to stay so that their abuser cannot find them. This is a resource for both genders. But all the other suggestions offered aid only to women. They suggested contacting the Women’s Resources Center for more information.

The Women's Resources Center is located on Wright Street right next to Cocomero.
The Women’s Resources Center is located on Wright Street right next to Cocomero.

The Women’s Resources Center had more to offer in the ways of support groups for men. They host an event called Man Talks. This event allows men and women to meet and discuss the issues facing men in society today. At every talk, a new conversation will be held about a different topic relating to the development of men, their role in society and how it affects manhood.

For more information, watch this video about resources for male domestic abuse victims on campus. Nathan Stables, who is a student of biology at the University of Illinois, will tell you his opinion about the lack of public awareness regarding resources for men. Captain Acree of the University Police will tell you a story of his experience with male victims of domestic violence. Gabrielle Smith, a graduate assistant at the Women’s Resources Center, will tell you more about Man Talks and other resources available. You can also read along with the script.