Signs of a Physically Abusive Wife or Girlfriend

Signs of a Physically Abusive Wife or Girlfriend

“My ex-wife would grab me, scratch my face, tear my shirt. If I tried to get away, she’d stand in the doorway and block the exit. She’d take my car keys. Sometimes, she would park her car behind mine or drive my car away so I couldn’t escape.

I never got physical back. I kept hoping she’d stop.”

-a battered man

Physical abuse of a partner is the category of abuse that gets the most attention. When I became aware of abuse of men by women, I wasn’t expecting to see or hear much about physical abuse, but I have been surprised by how many men have dealt with a physically abusive wife or girlfriend. 

Many studies that address domestic violence statistics treat it like a competition. Do more women get attacked by their partners than men get attacked by partners? What’s their relative injury and death count?

There are different answers to these questions depending on the research methods used and the inclinations of researchers, and yet, the undeniable bottom line is that many men are being physically abused by their wives and girlfriends, and it is debilitating and dangerous to the men, their children, and the women who are acting out in this way.

To declare physical abuse of men by their wife or girlfriend as unworthy of attention or concern because some researchers say that more women than men sustain severe or lethal injury from their partners is like promoting ignoring brain cancer because it doesn’t occur as often or kill as many people as lung cancer. (The American Cancer Society’s numbers show lung/bronchus cancers to be ten times the rate of brain/nervous system cancers both by incidence and deaths, but people aren’t clamoring for brain cancer to be ignored.)

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Men’s size and strength advantage over women has been among deciding factors that have led many people to conclude that physical abuse of a man by a woman is a non-issue. However, women who physically abuse men can overcome their strength disadvantage in many ways.

Women who physically abuse men can overcome their strength disadvantage in many ways, including:

  • surprise attacks,
  • the use of objects either as direct weapons or projectiles,
  • striking when their prey is in a vulnerable position (driving, asleep, drunk, has his back turned . . .),
  • counting on their partner to not strike back, or
  • soliciting the help of others to attack him.

A man may prevent himself from striking back because of training or desire to not hurt a woman, his non-violent nature, or concern that he will get in legal trouble. Even when his partner is whaling on him, a man may restrain himself from countering the attack.

Signs of a physically abusive girlfriend or wife

Women use a variety of methods to physically abuse their partners:

  • throwing or breaking things
  • scratching
  • kicking
  • biting
  • hair-pulling
  • burning
  • shoving
  • interfering with sleeping or eating
  • blocking exits
  • poisoning
  • hitting with open hands or fists
  • hitting with objects
  • forcing him out of the house
  • attacking, or threatening to attack, others
  • assaulting with knives, guns, or vehicles

16 Signs of Physical Abuse, domestic violence, physically abusive wife, girlfriend, husband, or boyfriend, women abusing men, women who abuse men, a controlling and abusive wife, battered man, woman

If your wife or girlfriend is physically abusive, click here to find out how to make a Safety Plan. 

For further explanation of each of the ways women physically abuse their male partners check out my book: 

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  • Ann Silvers
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