Why do you look so devastated bro?”
“My life seems jeopardised. My relationship with my wife is getting sour day by day and this is affecting me emotionally. I feel miserable.”
“C’mon man! This happens. She doesn’t hit you. Right?"
Well, this is neither one of those rants that men have against women, nor is it some sexist joke that is a part of everyday conversations. Men can be victims of abuse too.
While violence, abuse and harassment against women are spoken about, discussed and condemned openly, any kind of brutality against men is done in a hushed tone. #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns are helping women get vocal about domestic violence, harassment and molestation, and now the #MeToo campaign is encouraging men who face sexual abuse and harassment to come forward and talk about it on social media. To raise an alarm, spread awareness and address issues, men are using hashtag #MaybeSheDoesntHitYou to tell their heartwrenching stories of manipulation, emotional abuse and other problematic behaviour.
The motto or agenda of this social media campaign is to tell the world that even men face abuse and harassment, which may not be always physical. According to them, mental or psychological abuse can leave deeper and long-lasting scars on their mind. The hashtag is currently trending on Twitter where men from across the globe are talking about how their partner (wife/ girlfriend) may not hit them, but their verbal abuse and mental torture can often make life difficult for them.
“I had been in a live-in relationship for about three years and it has been the worst phase of my life. I am not saying this because we are not together anymore or I want to complain, but I feel it’s time men left behind their inhibitions and talked about their emotional trauma,” says Anirban Mondal, 37, Pune-based graphic designer.
He feels that #MaybeSheDoesntHitYou is an important step towards drawing attention to the turmoils of a man’s life. “I have been tortured to a point that I often felt suicidal. My partner ensured that I had no friends, I didn’t keep any contact with my parents and siblings, gave her my entire salary and then begged her to give me allowance. We made love only when she wanted and with time I didn’t want to have any physical contact with her, but I had to comply because she wanted it. I had to give up football, because she thought it was kiddish. I had started taking sleeping pills. But when my colleague found this out, I decided to call it quits and come out of the hell. Even after four years, her memories and abuse continue to haunt me. Some wounds, although invisible, stay with you forever,” confides Mondal.
The stigma stops them
Psychologists feel that men face a lot of stigma when they come forward to report abuse. That is why they often suffer in silence. “It is very difficult to make them speak up. I think it all boils down to social conditioning. Men feel ashamed and embarrassed and are of the opinion that if they cry or complain, they will be judged and called sissy and coward. They have to understand that admitting their stories of pain and suffering will not make them any less of a man,” says Geetanjali Dodake, city-based clinical psychologist.
Dodake says that men seek her advice only when their situation is too bad. “Some of them suffer from depression and anxiety while others are scared of getting into a new relationship. Men have this tendency to bottle up their feelings for too long. It is good that campaigns like #MaybeSheDoesntHitYou is making them speak up,” she says.
Delhi-based software engineer Nishant Sharma says that we must not make this a man versus woman thing because they both have their own share of pains and gains. “I had been beaten by my ex wife once or twice before we parted ways. The pain that she inflicted on me through her behaviour made me visit a psychiatrist. She would always threaten to abandon me or commit suicide for no reason. I had to look after my business and manage the house and kids, but I didn’t know why she wasn’t happy. I was tired of paying her credit card bills. I would also stop her from excessive drinking, but all in vain,” says Sharma.
While men are talking about their issues, women too are tweeting with the hashtag #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou to tell the world that mental abuse can be extremely damaging too.