October is dedicated to spreading awareness about domestic violence. Advocates say it is commonly a problem affecting women, but in some cases men can be on the receiving end of the abuse as well. Last week, Newschannel 3 reported on the hundreds of cases involving women the domestic violence shelter in Wilmington sees each year. After the story aired, we received an anonymous email from a man asking what happens when the tables are turned. Domestic abuse comes in many forms: physical, verbal, mental, and in some cases financial. But who is affected most? UNCW professor, Jerry Bagnell studies conflict management and abuse cases and said in 95 percent of physical abuse cases, women are the victims, but you can not rule out the other side. “Only 5 percent of the domestic violence cases reported has men as victims. Men are still very embarrassed about being victimized. So they are much less likely to report," said Bagnell. Last year, the domestic violence shelter helped more than 1800 women in New Hanover County, but only 36 men. Bagnell said many times the stigma attached to weakness and even laws prevent more men from coming forward. “Women are more likely to report being abused. There are more protocols to screen women to find out if they are being abused; there really aren't many protocols in place for men," Bagnell said. When a man or woman does decide to seek help, the domestic violence shelter is there for emergency services, counseling and legal assistance. Shelter Services Director, Renee McGill-Sox said the more the community is aware of the problem, the more it will help prevent more cases from happening. “The more people are educated about the issue, the better it's going to be for the victim and that's how it's going to stop," said McGill-Cox. Bagnell said, "Prevention is all about recognizing that the fact that both men and women get angry. It's perfectly ok to get angry, but it's not ok to impolite in a violent sort of way." If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can call the shelter 24 hours a day at 910-343-0703. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Open Gate Domestic Violence Shelter will be hosting their 19th Take Back the Night March and Rally Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. in front of the New Hanover County Courthouse.
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