You cringe at the thought of it. In fact, you have no plans of sharing your problems with anyone else. You’re afraid you’ll look like a wimp for not standing up to your wife. However, you stand by the idea that men shouldn’t hit women. Besides, you’re reasonably confident that no one will even believe you. You struggle with the thought that the law might consider you a domestic violence victim. After all, you are a man.
In the back of your head, your goal is to stay home until your children are off to college. Yet, day after day, things get worse. Your wife is beyond control. She screams at you and threatens that she will kill you in your sleep. She seems to know wherever you are – later, you find that she has some sort of tracker installed in your car. Meanwhile, you have bruises on your arms from where she grabbed you. The red mark on your cheek still stings.
At first, you figure you’ll outlast this woman you once loved. You stay out late. You sleep on the couch. Suddenly, you are startled. Your wife is above you with a crazed look in her eyes and holding a kitchen knife. Maybe, just maybe – you really are a victim of domestic violence. So, what should you do?
It is a long-held misconception that all domestic violence victims are women. And while it’s true that historically the vast majority of victims are female, it’s rarely conveyed that a surprising number of victims that report domestic violence are men. And, while New Jersey law protects women and men equally, it’s not uncommon for violence against men to go unreported.
Domestic Violence Against Men by the Numbers
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what percentage of domestic violence victims are men due to the lack of studies on the issue. Two national surveys, the 2000 National Violence Against Women Survey conducted by the National Institute of Justice and the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control both conclude about 40% of domestic abuse victims are men. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that 1 in 4 men will be a victim of physical abuse from a close partner in their lifetime.
In New Jersey, an NBC 10 investigation from 2010 found that 74,244 domestic violence incidents were reported to police statewide that year. According to the investigation, in 21,089 of those cases, the victim was male. That accounts for approximately 24% of all New Jersey victims.
That said, one can only imagine what the actual numbers are. For some men, claiming their female partner hit them is intentionally vindicative. In fact, like other domestic violence complaints, men may make false assertions just to cause a problem. That said, many men are too “machismo” to admit that a woman did something that falls into the domestic violence guidelines.
New Jersey Domestic Violence Law
You might already know. New Jersey’s domestic violence statute doesn’t differentiate between men and women. According to the law, a domestic violence victim is anyone “who is 18 years of age or older or who is an emancipated minor and who has been subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, former spouse, or any other person who is a present household member or was at any time a household member.”
Additionally, the domestic violence statute also protects individuals who were victims of violence and have a child in common together regardless of their relationship status. In the meantime, domestic violence just doesn’t have to be a physical act. For example, if you have an intimate relationship with someone and they harass you online, you may apply for a restraining order.
In New Jersey, there are actually nineteen separate criminal offenses that constitute predicate acts of domestic violence. At the top of the list is homicide, however, many non-violent acts may warrant protection orders.
Many men hesitate when it comes to calling the police when they are placed in dangerous situations. One of the problems with doing this is that you may be put in a position where you need to defend yourself – and are wrongfully charged with a crime as a result. Meanwhile, you should always think about how your children are affected by bad behavior.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, or have been accused of domestic violence yourself, it is imperative that you discuss your case with an attorney with experience in family law immediately. Thankfully, the Law Offices of Sam Stoia is here to help. Contact us today to set up your no cost, no obligation consultation.