On Feb. 25, I had the great privilege of speaking at the WoMen’s Rural Advocacy Program (WRAP) Action Day.
As I stood there with the faces of the 17 Minnesota women, two children and one man who were killed in 2019 at the hands of a domestic abuser illuminated on the screen behind me, I couldn’t help but think of that single male. They are a forgotten victim of domestic violence.
When we talk about domestic violence – or should I say – if we talk about domestic violence we automatically assume the victim is female.
Statistically, men are almost as frequently victims of domestic violence as women. Nearly one in nine men (compared to one in four women) in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking at the hands of an intimate partner.
Closer to home, approximately 23.5 percent of Minnesota men (33.7 percent of Minnesota women) experience rape, physical violence and/or stalking at the hands of an intimate partner during their lifetime.
That’s approximately 1.3 million Minnesota men who will become victims of their partner, and yet there is very little talk or awareness highlighting this rather large group of victims.
One of the many difficulties is many believe the same resources and laws do not apply to a male victim.
The resources for male victims are even less scarce than the awareness, especially in rural Minnesota. There are no advocacy agencies dedicated solely to providing services to male victims in our area.
This is not to say our local advocates are not amply competent to assist a male victim as they certainly are, and I have seen them provide the same zealous advocacy and support regardless of gender to each and every victim they represent.
Programs like WRAP still offer services to male victims despite their name. They have even made a change in their name from Women’s Rural Advocacy Programs to WoMen’s Rural Advocacy Programs in the hopes male victims will feel more comfortable seeking out their services.
Male victims face the same fear, anxiety, self-doubts and apprehensions of reporting abuse as female victims. They fear the abuser, they fear the system will not believe them and even more so they fear the retribution of society and the impression of weakness associated with a public admittance that they have been victims of domestic violence at the hands of their partner.
I highlight this issue to remind us all that anyone can be a victim of domestic violence at any time. I write this to encourage us to remember domestic violence knows no bounds and is certainly not gender based.
If you believe you or someone you know are or have been a victim of domestic violence, please say something. You can find a list of resources on our Web site at redwoodcounty-mn.us/departments/attorney/.
– Jenna Peterson serves as Redwood County attorney