mental torture | 

Fr Brian Darcy: ‘The hidden tragedy of men who suffer from domestic violence must be addressed’

It’s devastating when there is violence in a relationship. Nobody, man or woman deserves to be brutalised in such a way.

Fr Brian Darcy

Fr Brian D'ArcySunday World

I regularly receive letters from women who are violently abused by their partners.

It seems to me to be a growing problem, and it’s tragic.

Increasingly, though men write to tell me of the mental and physical abuse they’re suffering at the hands of women.

It increases tenfold at times like Christmastime.

This is part of a letter immediately after Christmas which tells another story. It’s from a man who is being abused by his wife.

“This is the first letter I have ever written to anyone about my problem – well I take it as my problem.

“There is hardly a day that goes by without a thump from my wife.

"We have two children aged eight and ten years.

"Up to a few years ago, the children did not see or hear any of my beatings, but now my wife does not seem to care.

“She warns them that they are never to say to anyone outside, what goes inside their home.

“No matter what I say or do, it is taken out of context, blown up and used to start rows.

"Then the beatings started; I had black eyes, two broken teeth, and bruises all over my body. The excuse I give is I had an accident or walked into a door.

“My own family do not know about my unhappiness in this marriage.

"I have a very good job and it pays well, therefore my wife does not need to work. I clean, wash and cook when I come home from work and at weekends I polish and clean.

“I walk to the park with our children but I’m given a specific time to return. I panic if I’m late getting back, as I know once again, I’ll get a thump.

“To everyone else she’s a lovely person, laughing and joking with visitors and friends.

"But I try not to join in, just in case I say the wrong thing. I stay in the kitchen and make tea and coffee when our friends call.

“We only go on holiday to camps now so that she will still be in control.

"Everything I do is wrong. I’m a big person and she is small, and people will never believe the things she does to me…it causes me to be depressed and anxious and I’m unable to concentrate.

"I’m afraid to go as she tells me I will never see my children again. “How do you know you’re the father of my children anyway? She often taunts.”

Believe it or not, that is typical of the letters I receive too. In the past, nobody believed that men were the victims of domestic violence.

Fr Brian Darcy

But according to recent studies women are as likely as men to perpetrate domestic violence.

The Department of Health published a report earlier last year which showed that both partners used violent acts in half of all cases, with the remainder divided equally between male-only violence and female-only violence.

ACCORD, the marriage counselling service of the Catholic Church, said that in 46% of cases there was mutual violence; in 30% of cases it was carried out by women, and in 24% by men only.

It’s devastating when there is violence in a relationship. Nobody, man or woman deserves to be brutalised in such a way.

Physical violence is destructive yet it is much more difficult to quantify the damage done by mental cruelty.

Usually, children suffer too because all too frequently, they follow the same pattern in their own lives later on.

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