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Male Victims of Domestic Violence Participate in Support Group

By Eric S. Peterson
Posted // November 16,2010 -

An abused spouse is arrested when police arrive on the scene. Another abused spouse sees charges dropped against the abuser because of “insufficient evidence,” even though the abuser admitted guilt to cops and the court. These situations are real, but the victims of these abusive relationships weren’t women—they were men, men who now have a support group created by a therapist trying to expand the discussion about what constitutes domestic violence and who its victims are.

“Abuse is not gender-specific,” says therapist Hilary Madsen, who runs the Real Relationships support group from her Sugar House office. “It has to do with one person trying to have power and control over another person.” Madsen says that, clinically speaking, abuse doesn’t only entail punching and hitting but also includes verbal abuse, “emotional terrorism” or one parent using children against the other. Given these factors, Madsen says, men are abused as often as women—and often without the same support from friends, family or even the law.

Since June, Madsen’s support group has provided men who have faced abuse with an outlet to share their experiences, review current research and literature on domestic violence and helped them learn ways to avoid the cycle of abuse so they can have healthier relationships.

Allen Malstrom felt almost as much abuse from the legal system as he did from his wife. On numerous occasions, Malstrom says, his wife struck him and then immediately called the police. Despite the fact that Malstrom was bleeding and injured by the time the police showed up and despite his wife having no injuries, he was arrested every time as the perpetrator.

“It was terrible,” Malstrom says. “Not only did I have to deal with this domestic situation and getting hit, but then going to jail for it.” Eventually, Malstrom decided to take out a protective-custody order against her. At the hearing, the judge reversed the order and gave his wife a protective order against him. In the ruling, the judge cited that he “was obviously bigger than her.”

Shortly after that court ruling, Malstrom lost custody of his children. The last time he saw them was 10 years ago, when they were taken out of the courtroom, kicking and screaming. “It’s been hard to bear. It’s a cross I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

Madsen says that current domestic-violence laws nationally—while hard-fought accomplishments of the women’s movement—have also unfortunately reinforced the notion that men are only abusers and never the abused. This, she believes, is based on the Duluth model of domestic-violence treatment, which contends that domestic violence is caused by male privilege. Madsen, however, points to research conclusions made by California State University professor Martin Fiebert, who surveyed research arguing that women initiate domestic violence as much as men do, oftentimes using weapons to compensate for their smaller size, and with 38 percent of injured victims being men.

Other studies, however, indicate women initiated intimate-partner violence in self-defense. A study in the 2010 treatment journal Trauma Violence Abuse studied 23 surveys of female domestic violence and found in all surveys, women cited self-defense as motivation for their violence, although the authors of the study also pointed out that retaliation and self-defense were often conflated in surveys and that two-thirds of surveyed women did cite coercive control as a motivating factor for their violence.

For Alissa Black, a crime-victims advocate with the Murray Police Department, male privilege still causes domestic violence—just not for men. “If they’re trying to be gender neutral and take out the paradigm of male privilege, that’s good for [male victims’] situation,” Black says. “But it doesn’t work for female victims of domestic violence, where male privilege [causes abuse] on a daily basis.” Black also says that there are as many resources—including victim restitution and access to shelters, for example—for male victims of domestic violence as there are for female victims. Whether or not male victims are ready to seek help is another issue. Madsen says many male victims meet resistance—not just with the legal system but also with family and friends when it comes to seeking help.

“There’s a lot of compassion for women and children in these situations,” Madsen says. “For men, there’s not compassion. If anything, there’s mockery.”

“Brandon,” a member of the group who asked that his name be withheld, succeeded in at least getting a charge of domestic violence to stick against his then live-in girlfriend, but it cost him a close friendship in the process.

“This girlfriend living with me earlier this year was abusing alcohol and painkillers, and she would get violent,” Brandon says. “She was verbally abusive, too, swearing at me and calling me all sorts of names; she accused me of being with other women, smacked me … she also bit me on several occasions.” Brandon says the final encounter happened when he was taking his girlfriend home from a concert and refused to let her drive because she’d had too much to drink. As they struggled over the keys, Brandon says, he was struck repeatedly and his girlfriend leaned over from the passenger seat and bit him on the back, hard enough to break skin.

“It was really crazy,” Brandon says, adding that she bit him several other times at his apartment, but the difference here was that a nearby paramedic witnessed the attack and could vouch that Brandon was the victim of the attack. While the charge stuck, he still had to take the protective order himself down to the jail to serve it on his girlfriend. A mutual friend of Brandon’s and his girlfriend told Brandon that his ex was sorry about the assault and they should just reconcile, calling Brandon’s protective order “chicken shit.”

“Terry,” another member of the group who asked that his real name not be used because he still has pending legal actions in his case, took out a protective order against his wife in July, hoping to gain court-ordered therapy for her in order to save their marriage. Terry says she had often verbally abused him in front of their 4-year-old daughter, struck him on multiple occasions and once threw a plate against his face, an injury resulting in a scar above his lip.

Instead of the court ordering anger management, the court “supported” the couple’s existing marriage counseling, with the only change being that he had lost his parenting rights. While his wife had admitted to abusing him to the police as well as in court, Terry was told by local prosecutors that there was insufficient evidence to charge domestic violence.

Without a set schedule, Terry only sees his daughter a few hours a week.

“When I go to pick up my daughter at her grandparents place, my daughter tells me, ‘You can come inside, Daddy. I’ll make sure Mommy doesn’t yell at you or hurt you,’ ” Terry says.

For Madsen, it’s hard not to notice the disparities in the treatment. In many situations, she says, court-ordered domestic--violence treatment for men is automatic and under no circumstance would a court simply shrug its shoulders and say two admissions of guilt are “insufficient” evidence of domestic violence if it happened to a woman.

“People get it when you switch gender roles,” Madsen says. “People pick up that it’s not a gender issue—it’s abuse.”

For more information about the Real Relationship support group contact Hilary Madsen, 801-696-3166, or e-mail

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Posted // February 12,2011 at 15:39

"Terry" continues to thank everyone for your support, wih a viritual hug or handshake as appropriate. IT seems like with Valentine's Day coming up, we should place a special emphasis on this situation.


Posted // November 20,2010 at 14:53


We at the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Mean and Women are pleased to hear of your new support group for male victims of IPV. Thank you.

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and throughout the month domestic violence advocates and the media's attention was focused on bringing more awareness to and promoting the eradication of men's violence against women.
However, not all intimate partner violence (IPV) fits into this neat little package.

IPV against men has always been a hot button issue. The mere mention of male victims in a gathering of traditional domesti violence advocates creates great controversy. While domestic violence advocates may know men are victims they insist that their victims service agencies (over 2,000 of them in the US) should focus exclusively on ending violence against women by men because women are the most injured and prevalent victims. As a result, serious
outreach and services for the male victims of IPV
are sorely lacking.

Studies indicate that men are victims of assault by their partners in 25% of the reported cases in the U.S. each year. The disparity between the needs of those victims and the services available is large. The gap must be closed and that can only be done through education, services and

While resources for men are still scarce, awareness is increasing and hopefully
more services will follow. IPV is not a gender issue, it is simply a human issue.

Visit us at for further information or call 1-888-7HELPLINE (1-888-743-5754)

We are adding Madsen's group to our Resource List and are wish her and her group members the best.


Posted // November 28,2010 at 14:36 - Tom, Thank you for your sharp eye. The 25% figure is absolutely incorrect. The study from which I took it, Department of Justice, estimates the number closer to 36%. I personally think that number is low. Appreciate you catching my error. All the comments here have been very thoughtful and I've learned something from reading them all.


Posted // November 21,2010 at 15:09 - Tom, Thanks again for your information and support and I was lucky enough to connect with Heather and other pioneers who are working for equality in the treatment of intimate partner violence. I do work with many teens boys who sometimes admit that girls will pinch, shove or slap them and they will often say that they know to never hit a girl but are ashamed to admit that they have been hit. I think it is time to teach our children that hitting is not acceptable towards anyone and start to teach them it is not a gender issue early on.


Posted // November 21,2010 at 15:04 - Thank you Heather for your support and endorcement of this group. The gender inclusive hotline will help so many men and women who are in abusive relationships and I am glad to pass this along to those in need!


Posted // November 20,2010 at 16:10 - Hilary, thanks! I was just going to refer you to Heather and Jan at DAHMW (above msg from Heather). Heather, that 25% figure is really quite low, although it's much higher than the UDVC will ever admit. Let's use realistic stats and studies and when we do use low stats, lets explain why they are low ("Education for Injustice" propaganda spread by organizations like Utah's own UDVC). Hilary, did you see the training meeting reported on several months ago in the Davis Country Clipper which detailed one of those UDVC training sessions and their true anti-male colors? The reason I would guess that the UDVC has not swooped in on this article to discredit and attack those telling the truth (their normal tactic) is that you ARE involved with them. They will however try to satiate and pacify you and keep you from trying to change them to support men. If you want to see what they are really made of, just volunteer to help them run a free PSA campaign to call male victims in and publicise the truth about male victims with real stats. They will shut you down on that really fast. Others have tried it. did you see the article in the Davis County Clipper a few months back detailing one of the UDVC regular training sessions for police, etc? It showed what they are training with - lies and male hate... It's no secret when you know where to look for what they really do and teach, what to ask and how to volunteer to help them. Ask the UDVC for their instruction manual or copies of what they teach. Better yet, ask them to let you do the training and let you tell the truth about male victims to police, courts, media, religious leaders, etc. and you will see then just what they really are and will do for equality and stopping abuse against women as well, which do also do quite poorly at. Their resources are much more effectively spent in propagandizing and supporting false abuse allegations - much more money in that than in really protecting all victims. They teach religious leaders to help them beat up male victims too, which destroys families instead of preserving them. Please also ask men how many of them were also beat up by their religious leaders along with the system and their wives or exes??? also ask them who the worst abuser of them and their children are - was it their ex or was it the machinery??? Hilary, contact me please, at: advoc8tomm at yahoo Meanwhile, check out this video with much more accurate stats and studies and variations in what makes good and bad stats, and it's all about REAL EQUALITY IN DV HELP (another good woman gave me this link): Copy, SEARCH and watch: youtube Domestic Violence- Women are Half the Problem Also, keep in mind that even if the UDVC really ONLY wants to help female victims (while pretending equality) that spreading DV whoppers is hurting women victims too, and esp children. Also, most DV injuries (and deaths) to women are the result of women being the initiating and primary violent partner: Search: Glenn Sacks: Researcher Says Women's Initiation of Domestic Violence Predicts Risk to Women Erin Pizzey can also verify that one, which she discovered at her own very first women's shelter in England in the 1970's shortly before feminists hostilely took it over and drove her and the truth out of her shelter for good. This is just like the UDVC agenda today which also must dominate, and disallow truth, fairness and justice. Hilary, just imagine what someone like you could do heading up teaching for the UDVC, even teaching boys AND girls both the same thing about DV - for BOTH (not just boys, like now) to never hit the other, and show them the result with the study above. We could dramatically reduce DV divorce deaths by just similar honesty and equality techniques alone, yet the UDVC violently protests that... Why? That and many other teachings and actions like it would actually decrease DV instead of continuing to fuel it for the best interests of only the UDVC and all their associate hangers-on...


Posted // November 19,2010 at 08:06

When I began to read this article, I felt that this issue was kind of stupid. I mean usually, men are far stronger than women and usually they are able to overpower them irregardless of who initiates contact. While reading this article I realized, that although this may be true, that does not neccessarily mean that the man wants to behave in that manner.

Most men are able to recognize that courts are biased and they usually get the shaft when the police arrive. Seeing it over and over again. I get the feeling that the man Brandon in this article is one such person. As a result many men avoid seeking help alltogether. In fact I sincerely believe most men want to avoid conflicts in relationships as often as possible.

As I began to read further into it however, I realized that like women who have been abused, the men find it difficult to start or follow through with the steps neccessary to protect them self. The problem is even greater for men and the lack of available resources to help them follow through.

It isn't a gender specific problem, not being able to find the resources to get yourself out of an abusive situation, it is a problem most victims of abuse struggle with all the way around male or female. However there are more available resources to assist women. When children are involved this only escalates the problem by creating a forced attachment of communication between the victim and the abuser. Some victims struggle to follow through for fear of reprecussion with regard to their relationship and visitation with their children. It is truly sad.

I have been to court on several occassions and watched personally as protective order after protective order entered the court in both Utah and Juab Counties. Surely, the amount of protective orders being sought by women outweighed the ones sought by men. However, in comparing the two different court programs within those specific counties I found a discrepancey. Utah county courts almost always sided with the women, even when both parties agreed there was either mutal abuse between them or abuse patterns more prevalant by the actual protective order seeker. In nearly every case the woman was granted the protective order in Utah County irregardless of the situation.

In Juab County however, I noticed a great variance. The court system was way less bias toward men. In many of the cases, where women or men were abused at the same time and the woman or man were the ones actually seeking the order of protection, the judge was fair, and issued protective orders against both or the woman depending on the situation. In many of the cases, they were referred to the local mental health for therapy, both the victim and the abuser.

While living in Juab County I had the unfortunate experience of being in an unhealthy relationship that escalated to violence and the police being called on more than one occassion. An interesting thing happened though, after the third time of the police being called to our home one of the officers got pissed and said he was sick of coming out here. He told me he could see it was just going to escalate and end up with someone getting hurt or dead in this situation. Told me I had a problem that I needed help getting out of and he was going to force me to make it end. He charged us both with domestic violence in front of children and then went to the county attorney and requested an order of protection against us both from having contact with each other. His justification for this was that I was not protecting my own children by allowing an abusive person to continue to be around my children, even though it was the man that was initiating and abusing. I was allowing it to happen because I really didn't want to deal with taking action to make my life better. Why who knows..but it worked. It also should be a mandatory requirement in domestic violence cases that both get charged and get the help they need. If they both get the help potentially the charges can be dropped as happened with me.

This does have to begin with the police department taking this specific action as happened in my case though and forwarding and following through with the county attorney and courts to see that something is done as in my particular case. Most departments don't feel they have the resources or time to deal with "family matters" when there are more important crimes to pursue. Which is ironic considering that most ongoing domestic violence cases end up being the next capitol crime they investigate or the next felony charge they investigate.

This was a wake up call for me personally and I was forced to make some changes in my life to protect myself, my children and also my ex from having a potentially more dangerous situation occur. I was pissed off at first at the officer for doing this. It took a few months of going to court and also the counseling that was ordered for me to realize that he had forced me to do the right thing.

To this day I am grateful that Juab County Sheriff Department and the Juab County Attorney took the matter into their own hands and forced me to take a step back and look from the outside in at my unhealthy behavior and relationship and forced me to make a change for the better in my life.

It is sad that other courts and police officers, just don't feel there is enough resources and time to bother doing this same thing. It also has a lot to do with the stigmas that are placed on both victims and abusers irregardless of whether they are male or female. I do believe that more men would step forward if they knew for sure that there would be equality and fairness handed down from the system which is really there to help all victims male or female.

There should be a domestic violence mediator in place in all courtrooms to address this need to create a fair evaluation of both parties and submitt a fair unbiased recommendation to the court for every protective order that passes through the door.

Police shoud be more intuitive and action taking on the first or second call. Like the officer that helped me and be able to recognize and sympathize with helping male or female victims of abuse even if it means forcing them like in my case.

Each department should have a set group of investigators to address this growing need and evaluate with an open mind every domestic case and charge that they come across and take the action necessary to prevent abuse from happening in the future whether or not, it is male or female that placed that call.


Posted // November 17,2010 at 07:44

This is "Terry" from the article. Thank you for all your support. The battle continues - my protective order is not enough to get contempt of court Re:Parent Time filed against my spouse. I'm getting legal counsel, but I may have to file for legal separation JUST to get parent time established in writing! In the meantime, this continues to be emotional and psychological abuse to both me and my daughter (who also happens to be on the protective order with me.) I have my issues, my spouse hers, but our daughter shouldn't be in the middle of all this.


Posted // November 23,2010 at 13:12 - to DaDave: City Weekly's reach might surprise you. We distribute from Logan to Moab, from Tooele to Heber. In some places, like Eureka, we are the ONLY newspaper available. We are *Utah's* Independent Voice.


Posted // November 20,2010 at 12:46 - Dear Dave, Sorry to hear you have gone through it and yes many therapists, law enforcement, and other professionals have admitted to me privately that they have a bias that women are always the victim and have believed them when they say it was self defense even when the man was severely injured and she had no marks on her at all. I believe that this is because of the Deluth model of domestic violence treatment that many of us are trained to use which states that it is male privilege that causes domestic violence. Male privilege is indisputable and is real, just as white privilege is yet male privilege alone is not the CAUSE of intimate partner violence. It may contribute, yet abuse is CAUSED by a desire for one human being to dominate and control another, PERIOD. When women who admit being violent to their male partners are asked why they did it, the number one reason was because he was not listening to her or she wanted to get his attention, not because he still makes a dollar more an hour than she does!


Posted // November 20,2010 at 12:35 - Dear "Terry", You are a delight and inspiration to the group and I am proud of you for standing up for your rights as a father. As I tell the group, one day my dream of opening the first shelter for men will come to fruition, if not by me, but by others who have come to see the sincere need to help fathers, brothers and sons live lives free from abuse and receive the shelter and support that all humans deserve in abusive situations. Alissa Black may believe that there are equal services for men yet in Utah there are 17 domestic violence shelters and 2 have a few beds for the math.


Posted // November 19,2010 at 13:15 - glad the story got out . i know many and no help from any law inforcement. what really abusive is our court systems our therapist those ones that are one sided, i could name alot. ive been through this myself not seeing my daughter for a long time, being falsly accussed, my word meant nothing even with evidence. i do believe they need to throw out what is there and start with a new program without gender bias and the best interest of the children to have both parents in there lives if possiable. the worse abuse was from the system that had money in mind. hang in there terry, i have without any help just alot of attornie fees to get my familie promblems resolved. as when i got custady of my child i am still looked at as the second parent. SLC weekly kicks butt over the other news sources and dont limit free speech and goes after those stories that are effecting our family lives. now to make it a state news paper. could make bigger differences


Posted // November 17,2010 at 08:06 - Terry again: It's funny. I tried to work with Alissa on our situation... My hope is to help Hilary fulfill her dream of a male DA/DV shelter/center. I told her I'm her man when the time comes....


Posted // November 16,2010 at 16:18

Thank you, CW & Eric Peterson. This is a real issue that needs real solutions.

Agree with Tom M's comments, completely.

Would also like to add that it's time for women to stop playing the victim card while attributing it to gender.


Posted // November 20,2010 at 12:29 - Thank you for your supportive comments about the group. It is really helping many men who have been hiding in the shadows and living with abuse.


Posted // November 19,2010 at 01:02 - Also search: "youtube: domestic violence- women are half the problem"


Posted // November 19,2010 at 01:00 - For some more insight with references into peopole like Alissa Black, the UDVC and their Family Court scam - SEARCH this: "youtube thehappymisogynist kourt"