Domestic violence is appalling under any circumstance. And while most acts are committed by men against women, a startling percent of domestic assault incidents involve wives attacking their husbands.
What I have been told over the years by some men and fathers in New Jersey who are getting a divorce parallels the findings from a trio of international studies into the problem.
In the United States, the CDC found that 31-percent of adult men have experienced physical violence, and eight percent suffered contact sexual violence, from their wife or live-in girlfriend.
Another study by the Canadian government revealed that as many men reported being the victim of spousal violence as have women. A startling percentage of Canada’s married men had suffered abuse, usually involving being slapped, punched, grabbed, or choked by their spouse or partner.
Similar research done by the British government found that about one-in-10 men in the U.K. had been abused by their wife or live-in girlfriend.
Here in New Jersey, the Covid-19 stay-at-home orders seem to be escalating the issue of men and fathers being victimized by domestic abuse.
New Jersey Men and Fathers Are Embarrassed When Assaulted by Their Wife
If domestic violence is underreported by abused women because they are embarrassed or fearful of doing so, I can imagine how difficult it would be for a man to call the police.
During an initial meeting last month in our Virtual Law Office, a man in New Jersey hemmed around near the end of the session. I suspected he wanted to tell me something that he was having trouble saying.
Finally, he blurted out that his wife had been physically and emotionally abusive throughout their six-year marriage. “In an odd way, I’m glad that I wear a mask when I leave the house now because at least it covers the scratches and bruises,” he said with a nervous laugh. “I am trapped in a bad marriage with a bad wife because of a bad virus and am ashamed to tell anyone.”
I assured him he has nothing to feel ashamed about: He is the victim, not the perpetrator. Despite what his wife may say – who also sounded like she is a narcissist as well as an abuser – he is not responsible for being hit. I referred him to resources where he can get help and mentioned our support group for divorcing men and fathers in New Jersey where he could safely share his situation with other men in similar positions.
On a concrete level of help, I said the team of family lawyers at Micklin Law Group could file for an emergency order asking a judge to remove the woman from their home while the divorce process proceeds. While judges are reluctant to get involved in small details of a divorce prior to a hearing, they will hold a virtual session if there are allegations of abuse, neglect, or anything that might be putting a child at risk.
After we met, he emailed selfies of his face and ribs that he took the previous night after she had assaulted him again.
Although he hadn’t filed a police complaint against his wife, we included his images and his affidavit swearing to the abuse as part of a filing asking the court for help. The motion ordering the wife from the home was granted. When she refused to leave, our client called the police and officers came to the house to enforce the court order.
Divorce Help for Abused Men and Fathers in New Jersey
Based on what this client told me as we began preparing his divorce, he and his wife would not be candidates for our unique e-divorce service. A woman who hits and verbally abuses her husband is unlikely to amicably resolve all of the issues that must be agreed to in any divorce.
Just as we helped this client, if you are a man or father in New Jersey who is a victim of spousal abuse and want out of a horrific situation, we can help you.
We are working remotely. Our entire team of lawyers are in touch with each other as well as having access to client files and the court using our digital infrastructure. If you want to talk about your situation and learn about the options open to you, we can meet in our Virtual Law Office or we can talk on the phone if you call us at either 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620.