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When men become subjects of abuse

Dec. 27, 2019 4 min read

MASERU - It may seem absurd but women can be just as abusive as men, experts in social work and therapy say.

“Women abuse men in many different ways,” says Mamello Pitso, a social worker at SheHive – an organization that provides counseling and support to people living with abuse.

She said it’s vital for a man in an abusive relationship to know that they’re not alone and that abuse of men happens far more often than expected - in both heterosexual and same sex relationships.

“They can deny men their conjugal rights till they go to court. Nannies can also abuse boys sexually; here we must remember that a boy is still a man. We can also have a situation where a man does not work and be forced to depend on money provided for by a female partner which becomes fertile for abuse that becomes physical.

Talking back by a man in such a relationship can lead to his getting insulted and or being labeled useless, so the men tend to bottle this up,” she elaborated.  

“It happens to men from all cultures and all walks of life regardless of age or occupation,” she said.

Pitso says abused men hide behind their masculinity and pride, preferring to be seen as men who don’t cry, who can’t be beaten by women and as providers.

“But when they cannot provide they feel low and inadequate. The woman might also start comparing him to other men who are working,” she said.

Pitso encourages men to speak out when they find themselves in abusive situations, and that sometimes it’s best to cry out, to speak out, and report abuse - they should seek counselling where it is needed.

According to Reverend Professor Calvin Motebang, a family therapist and marriage counselor, abuse is the absence of stability, peace and relaxation in a relationship.

“It can be done selfishly. Women can abuse men by being selfish, especially if she wants things done her way. If a woman is persuasive she can be abusive because if she persuades a man to do something the man will do it even if he does not want to do it.

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If he does not do things according to her interests she sanctions him. One form of abuse is to be forced to do things so you get rewards; otherwise the man is sanctioned and denied affection,” he pointed out.

“Some women are control freaks by birth; they are usually beautiful and attractive. They can be chameleons because they can appear to be cooperative, clean and smart. They can compromise a lot before marriage, but once they get married they show the true picture of who they are,” he added.

They order the men around, they instruct them and if the men don’t follow their orders they abuse them verbally, they can even be physical. There are men who are abused both verbally and physically, contends Reverend Motebang.

He said being abusive also depended on how women are brought up, adding “a child who was raised in a family where the mother was a controller tends to be a control freak.

“Some instances can be aggravated by the financial situation in the relationship,” he continued.

“They will demean the men, making them feel unworthy and not good enough especially if the woman is working.

Women are inclined to beliefs while men are more rigid in their approach to spirituality.  They appear as if they are believers whereas they are more inclined to logical and factual things.

If they find some unanswered questions in their spiritual beliefs they tend to be cold towards the church. Then women, because of their belief tend to hide behind God, pretending to be believers while they take advantage of religion to abuse men and fulfill their plans,” he said.

According to Reverend Motebang abusive behaviour is easy to spot because it can be verbal, physical or implied by actions.

He said, “If it is through actions the man is usually sanctioned. The woman sleeps with the children in their bedroom. They refuse to give them money if they are not working, or give it to them with a few choice words.  These are abusive actions. Abuse causes animosity because if the woman is abusive her partner’s family will notice that the other spouse is abusive.

That causes animosity, hatred and bitterness. They end up hating the abusive person. It confuses the children because they notice when a parent is abusive. It hurts them, it confuses them and creates alienation. They withdraw from the abusive parent.”

“If one partner realizes that they are abusive they can seek therapy because some people don’t decide to be abusive, they are influenced by their upbringing or character.

If a person realizes that they have abusive tendencies they can go for counseling. They have to admit and acknowledge that they have a problem” he continued.

Mothobi Mothobi, a therapist for ex-inmates based in Maseru, says men tend to burst because they bottle things up for too long.

“When men burst they commit heinous crimes because they internalize things for too long. Sometimes they run away from their families,” he said.

Reports suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence are male. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse because they feel embarrassed, fear they won’t be believed, or are scared that their partner will take revenge.

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