Study suggest domestic violence against men in Georgia is often under-reported

Domestic violence is a growing problem in Georgia, according to state advocates.

And the victims aren’t just women and children.

A new report released today suggests men are being victimized a lot more than we think.

The 20-page report is the state agency's first study specifically focusing on male victims of family or domestic violence. 

The Georgia Commission on Family Violence hopes this reports will help educate law enforcement and other domestic violence stakeholders about the challenges male victims face and why their assaults often fall through the cracks.

"The belief that the domestic violence organizations, shelters and safe houses out there, I believe among males, is that they aren't there to service them," the Commission's Executive Director April Ross explained. 

The commission gathered evidence from 2016 to 2020.

While woman make up the majority of family violence victims, the report found that men account for 30%.

"We have to, as a society, give men the space to admit that they are victims," she explained. 

The commission's research identified 255,000 reported family violence incidents over a four-year period.

According to the report, one in 10 men experience stalking, sexual and/or physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

"When it's a female who is the abuser, the natural inclination is to assume he can handle himself, and he should be able to deal with the situation," Ross explained. 

The agency believes the number of male victims is much higher and isn't reported primarily due to social norms around gender roles, the idea of disbelief by law enforcement and other stakeholders, and a perceived lack of services for men.

"If there is a man identified at a scene who is a victim, I think there is an unconscious bias, so men may not get referrals at the scene for services," Ross said.

The reports said that all victims experience barriers to reporting their abuse and getting support.

However, they report that male victims face barriers that are intensified by socially normalized perceptions of men as perpetrators of violence.

The commissions’ goal is for this report to create awareness and improve responsiveness and accessibility to services for anyone in this struggle.

"Without adequate services, we risk more lives being lost. Georgia’s fatality numbers have been increasing," Ross detailed. 

The commission now plans to examine other special populations like immigrant and LGBTQ communities who've also been less represented in conversations about this issue.