GENDER STEREOTYPES often make it difficult for men and boys to recognize when they are targets of narcissistic abuse. The prevailing assumption is that men cannot be victims of domestic violence – this is false. Current research shows that 1 out of 7 survivors are male.
The belief that men can never be victims can create perilous blind spots, leaving them unable to recognize when they are targets for narcissistic abuse. Often male survivors remain in denial until the damage to their health and quality of life reaches a critical level.
In domestic abuse discussions, the convention is that men are assigned one of two roles: they are either the protector or the aggressor. Misleading social norms erase the fact that men can also be victims of psychological and physical violence.
Society acknowledges male privilege while sometimes ignoring the reality that some men do not have equal access to these advantages. A variety of socio-economic factors determine the degree of a man’s privilege such as race, class, ability status, and sexuality. Male privilege is not fixed or equitably distributed. It fluctuates.
The assumption that all men have equal access to male privilege can blind us to the existence of power dynamics in which men are at a disadvantage.
Male survivors often slip through the cracks
This injustice often causes male survivors to slip through the cracks where they don’t receive the care and support they need to recover from the abuse and its consequences. In many instances, the male survivor’s anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress goes untreated and can escalate into serious health outcomes, including auto-immune disorders like lupus and fibromyalgia, substance dependency, and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
Men are experiencing a mental health crisis. 4 out of 5 suicides are men and boys. In the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men and boys under 45. For men 45 and above, drug overdoses are the top killer.
Know the signs of narcissistic abuse
Narcissistic abuse against men and boys can encompass emotional, physical, and sexual violations. It can occur in heterosexual or LGBTQ relationships.
Some common signs of narcissistic abuse are:
- Charm then harm – The abuser blows hot then cold. They are nice one moment and nasty the next. This tactic is called intermittent reinforcement and its purpose is to confuse the target and condition them for ever-increasing maltreatment.
- Coercive Control – This is characterized by mind-games, degradation, isolation and the regulation of the target’s life. It is akin to hostage-taking. The target is subject to the approval or condemnation and subsequent punishments of the abuser.
The abuser may call you names, put you down and insult you. They may stop you from seeing family and friends. They may also control your finances and use fits or anger and rage to intimidate you.
Narcissistic abuse can be physical as well. It can manifest as physical assault or rape. The more pathological the abuser is the more likely they are to hit, kick, bite, scratch or shove you. They may threaten to hurt you, your children or your pets and they may act on these threats. They may threaten to publically humiliate you.
Though they choose to inflict the abuse on you, they blame you for their actions.
If you are experiencing narcissistic abuse, remember you are not alone.
Phone Hotlines for Male Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse
- The National Male Survivors (UK) helpline is 0808 800 5005.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) 1-800-273-8255.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline (USA) Free. Confidential. 24/7. Call 800 656 4673.
- ManKind confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence. Call 01823 334244.
- Samaritans provide non-judgmental listening services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call their helpline 116 123.
Resources for Male Survivors
Here is a selection of web-based resources for male survivors of narcissistic abuse:
- 1in6.org The mission is to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences live healthier, happier lives. Our mission also includes serving family members, friends, partners, and service providers by providing information and support resources on the web and in the community. They operate an anonymous online chat.
- Male Survivor (USA) We help facilitate healing for men from all walks of life.
- Male Survivors Partnership (UK) a space that’s been developed to provide information and support to organizations working with male victims/survivors of sexual abuse, rape, and sexual exploitation; and provide male survivors themselves with a single point reference to national and local support services.
- ManKind (UK) supports men suffering from domestic abuse from their current or former spouse or partner (including same-sex partner), including physical, psychological and verbal abuse. ManKind operates a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence. Call 01823 334244.
- Men’s Alliance Northern Ireland raise awareness and provide support for male survivors of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland. Email: info[at]mani.support.
- Men And Boys Coalition (UK) is a network of organizations, academics, journalists, professionals, and leaders committed to highlighting and taking action on the gender-specific issues that affect men and boys.
- RAINN (USA) Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800 656 4673 (USA) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
- Safeline (UK) provides individualized, specialist support for survivors of sexual abuse or rape regardless of their gender, disability, economic status, creed, and age.
If you know of any resources for male survivors of narcissistic abuse that are not listed here please share them in the comments section and we’ll add them.
- ‘Are You In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship (Special Edition for Men)’ by M. Wakefield.
- ‘Male survivors and victims of abuse deserve their own support system’ by All Fogg, The Observer.
- ‘I was abused now I want to give hope to others’ by Rhys Dickinson, BBC.
- ‘Controlling girlfriend ‘first woman convicted’ of new domestic abuse offense’, by Victoria Ward, The Telegraph.
- ‘I was a completely broken man’: A survivor of domestic abuse shares his story‘ by Hattie Gladwell, Metro.