This qualitative study explores the experiences of men who self-report victimization from a female intimate partner in four English-speaking countries. Forty-one men who reported any type of intimate partner abuse (IPA) from a female partner were recruited via targeted advertising in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Twelve online focus groups were conducted across countries using a phenomenologically informed design. Thematic analysis was carried out from an inductive and realist epistemological position and themes identified at a semantic level. This approach was taken to directly reflect the men’s experiences and perspectives, ensuring the voices of this hard-to-reach and overlooked population were heard. Three themes were identified across the countries: an imbalanced experience of harm; living with sustained abuse; and knowledge is power for men experiencing IPA. It was found that most participants underwent physical harm in the context of coercive control and experienced abuse over long periods of time. They were slow to recognize the magnitude of their partners’ behavior and act upon it for a range of reasons that are described in detail. In addition, promoting knowledge about the victimization of men by women, using appropriate language and active learning, was found to be important in helping the men gain autonomy and agency to break the pattern of abuse and aid their recovery. The implications of the findings for developing male-friendly IPA policy, practice, and services are discussed, in addition to the need for innovative research methodology to access hard-to-reach populations.
- disclosure of intimate partner abuse
- hard-to-reach populations
- male victimization
- perceptions of intimate partner abuse
- women offenders