Huffington Post Divorce columnist Vicki Larson contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if I would do an interview.
Larson had recently injured herself, sustained a black eye and found her clumsiness funny. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, did not find her shiner quite so humorous. He was quite understandably worried that people would automatically assume he’d hit her.
This incident gave Larson the idea for an article regarding how men are often suspected of abuse and how that works to women’s advantage in divorce cases, which led Larson via Google to Shrink4Men.
I replied and told Ms Larson that I understood her boyfriend’s concern because men, in many ways, are automatic suspects. Ms Larson wrote back and asked what I meant by “automatic suspects.” I replied:
I think men are often default scapegoats. A wife hits her husband — he must’ve been cheating and deserved it. In reality, the wife was cheating and knew she’d get the lion’s share of the assets if she portrayed herself as the victim. A father doesn’t see his kids — he must be a deadbeat dad. In reality, the mother alienated the kids, ignores custody court orders and denies the father access.
Neighbors hear the woman next door yelling and cursing,they call the cops, the cops arrive and arrest the husband. In reality, it was the wife who verbally and physically assaulted the husband.
I thought my response might deter Ms Larson from proceeding with the interview as this is an unpopular topic in our society. To my pleasant surprise, Ms Larson still wanted to do the interview.
A few days later, Ms Larson emailed 8 interview questions. Initially, I was a little hesitant about answering her questions. For those of you who haven’t explored the HuffPo’s Divorce section, well, let’s just say there’s quite a bit of male bashing and scapegoating that takes place there.
In an effort not to be quoted out of context, I sent Ms Larson nearly 9 pages of text (my apologies to Ms Larson!) She used material from both the interview questions and our email correspondence and published the article today:
It’s a very thoughtful piece and I’m honored she included Shrink4Men and me in it. Thus far, it seems to be getting a good reception by the majority of HuffPo readers who have posted comments, which is wonderful. There are a handful of “women are always victims” naysayers, but they’re in the minority.
Maybe western society is ready to start tackling the issue of male abuse.
Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.