Jan Brown on Domestic Violence Against Men
Domestic violence against men is one of the many instances in which the laws are applied unequally simply because of gender. It doesn’t help that there are so few services available for abused men.
Jan Brown recognized this deficiency and is doing something about it.
Brown is the founder and executive director of the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women that provides supportive services for victims of domestic violence, specializing in offering assistance to men in intimate relationships with abusive women.
The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women is a nationwide toll-free helpline that is believed to be the only service of its kind that assists men nationwide.
Brown discussed her organization, its mission and resources available to abused men.
Men’s Rights: The common misconception is that abuse toward men doesn’t happen or that somehow because men are generally stronger that they can’t be abused. Tell us about the myths that surround male victimization.
Jan Brown: One of the most prevalent myths we hear is about men being bigger and stronger and women being stronger and weaker and could a little woman beat up on a man. Well if a woman is prone to violence and the man is a non-violent person then it’s pretty easy.
When you consider that a lot of men as young boys hear from their parents “you should never hit a girl” it’s ingrained in them. So when a woman is hitting them they think one, never hit a girl and two, if they did hit the woman they could cause serious injury.
Men’s Rights: You’re right and one thing we know is that violence is violence. Any person can be an aggressor and any person can be a recipient.
Jan Brown: You’re absolutely correct.
Men’s Rights: So tell us about your organization, how you founded it and a little bit of the services you provide.
Jan Brown: A male family member of mine came to me and told me his wife was verbally and physically abusive, as well as abusing their finances.
So I thought I’ll look for help for him. When I looked, I discovered there was no help out there for men. So I decided to start a helpline. I placed a tiny ad in the small local paper and the first day we got 14 calls! Now we get over 500 calls a month.
Men’s Rights: How would you characterize those calls? Who is calling and what sort of help are they looking for?
Jan Brown: 80% of the calls are from men or an abused man’s loved ones. They range from explaining their situation to some saying, “I just got arrested, I didn’t do anything and I don’t know what to do next.”
The ones that I like to hear from are the ones who haven’t had false allegations against them mostly because they are the ones we can do something more concrete for. We aren’t federal or state funded so we don’t have financial support to help those in sticky legal situations.
Men’s Rights: So you’re saying when a man is accused of domestic violence or has a restraining order against him he is in a position with a lot less options?
Jan Brown: Definitely, especially if he doesn’t have the finances to fight. We try and give them advice and make sure they get evidence to protect them further down the line.
Men’s Rights: So often one of the forms of abuse is not only the actual physical abuse but the threat of abuse as well, right?
Jan Brown: Yes, along with other threats. They’ll say things like “You’ll never see your child again if you leave me,” “I’ll kill myself if you leave me,” and “Who do you think the cops will believe when I call them?”
Men’s Rights: When a man is alleging his wife is abusing him, he probably has to overcome a larger burden of proof than if it was a woman claiming her husband was abusing her. What is the right methodology or the right way a man should go about making his case for domestic violence?
Jan Brown: You should never do it alone. You need someone to help and guide you. You need to know the law and what is the law against domestic violence and what do you need in order to get a protection order.
Men’s Rights: There are two ways a relationship can go: either reconciliation or separation. So how many couples in an abusive relationship get back together and is it doable?
Jan Brown: I would say 75% want to fix it and it really depends on if you can fix it. If drugs and alcohol are involved it’s going to be a long road until they kick that habit.
Men’s Rights: What should people know about abuse that is not out there in the general public?
Jan Brown: They need to know there are a lot more of abused men out there then you think. This is not an anomaly. The abused guys need to realize they are in danger. They may not even realize it because you know, they’re guys and that’s just their mentality. They don’t consider it dangerous until after the fact. They could lose their house, their kids and that’s the danger, especially for men.
See related story: “An anthologist lends a hand to the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women“
For more information, watch an interview on DadsDivorce.com discussing PTSD and male domestic violence victims. The divorce lawyers for men at Cordell & Cordell fight for men’s rights so if you are the victim of domestic violence, contact a Cordell & Cordell office nearest you.