- Faith & Family
Designating October as National Domestic Violence Awareness has helped shed light on the millions of women and children who have been victims of assault and abuse — whether it be physical, emotional, mental or even financial. But these campaigns have been less successful in shedding light upon how domestic violence has affected other groups, such as men.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that [domestic violence] only happens to certain types of people,” said Jeanette Garofalo, the CEO of Miami’s Safe Space Foundation, Inc., an advocacy non-profit organization for domestic violence victims. “In reality, it can happen to anyone.”
To help broaden the image of those who suffer from domestic violence, local author Jonathan Spikes, in partnership with Safe Space Foundation, Inc., hosted a reception Evolution to Freedom Wine and Cheese Reception at the Art Fusion Gallery in Miami on Friday, Oct. 21st.
Now 41-years-old, Spikes once found himself in a relationship where he was battered nearly 15 years ago.
“It started with shoves and stuff like that and then it just progressively got worse until I was a prisoner in my own home from fear and shame,” recalled Spikes.
Victimized men more prone to remain silent
His choice to remain silent is a common one among male victim of intimate partner violence, according to Dr. Nathaniel Holmes, a Florida Memorial University professor.
Holmes, whose studies include resources that churches provide for male domestic violence victims, said, “Their primary concern is that [because of the abuse], they are not really a man, so they don’t want to admit to themselves or to others that they are victims.”
To combat the lack of resources for male victims of intimate partner violence, Holmes suggest that churches focus on three areas: build a ministry that is specifically for males; have an honest, open conversation about male victims; and dispel the myths about masculinity.
“In terms of being effective, [support groups] have to allow for a space where men can be really vulnerable,” he said.
Spikes believes he became involved with his abusive partner because of lingering effects of a hectic, brutal childhood. As a result, he endured the physical assaults of an abusive partner for nearly eight months. In the end, it was his neighbors who called the police during one of the couple’s fights, that led to his ability to talk openly about the abusive relationship.
“All the shame and fear that I thought was going to happen did not, which finally freed me to go see a counselor,” said Spikes, who also finally ended the relationship.
It also led him to create the self-esteem motivational program, “Celebrating Me,” as well as to continue to speak out about his own experiences in an abusive relationship.
“Men have been absent from the conversation that can shape the perception that all men are bad,” he said. “We can’t win the war against domestic violence if only half the team is there.”
Proceeds raised at reception were donated to the Safe Space Foundation, Inc.
By Kaila Heard