As June mark’s Men’s Health Month, one male Emirates Woman reader tells us about the violence and stigma associated with being a victim of domestic abuse.

I’ll never forget the day my wife punched me in the face. Not because I was shocked, but because it was the first time in months that our house felt calm. The incessant arguing suddenly stopped. Moments earlier, Nina* and I had been wrestling with each other in the bedroom doorway – she was attacking me with vicious words, kicks and slaps, and I was trying to regain some control of the situation by getting her out of the door so I could lock it. It sounds insane – it was insane – but it had become normal to me.

That is, until she punched me. Nina had hit me before during arguments, but never with a closed fist. I could feel blood tricking down my cheek. This woman – this petite, pretty woman with manicured nails and long wavy hair – had slashed the side of my face open with the large ring she wore on her middle finger. I bought her that ring when we first started dating, and I almost laughed at the ridiculousness of it all.

You’re probably judging Nina and questioning why I married a violent woman. We married because I thought she was wonderful. She was laugh-out-loud funny. Maternal. Thoughtful. Loved dogs. She wasn’t afraid to make a fool of herself. She was beautiful, charismatic, charming. She cooked. She loved me… But she loved me a scary amount.

The problems started when we moved into our first home together. I knew that Nina was quite needy, but I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t realise that this neediness was the first sign of a complete inability to control her emotions. She had to constantly prove how happy we were. The slightest sign of trouble would make her panic. She started to smother me, and we argued about everything. Her love had turned into obsession. I had no privacy – my messages and passwords were fair game. I even needed an excuse to visit my sister or mother without her. She was jealous of me being around other women, even family.

The lowest point in my relationship with Nina was meeting my father for coffee after she punched me.  I told him the cut on my cheek was the result of a bad tackle at football training. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes. The look that said: “I know you’re lying. Please tell me the truth.” The look came with pity, something that, as a confident 6ft 2in man, was the hardest to swallow. I’m not a coward. I’m not a pushover. But I couldn’t tell him the truth because I felt confident that Nina realised she’d gone too far. I thought it was  a turning point in our marriage.

It wasn’t. If anything, the realisation that she might lose me drove her crazy and the violence got worse. Finally, I decided to leave her. Unfortunately, there is little support for men with violent partners. “Can’t you restrain her?” “Surely you’re stronger than her?” “What can she do to hurt you?” These are just a few of the questions I encountered while trying to get a restraining order. I could obviously never hit back, and wouldn’t dream of it.

We teach boys it’s wrong to hit women, but they also need to know that it’s wrong for women to hit them too. When I have children, they’ll grow up learning never to hit people, full stop.

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from domestic violence, call  Dubai Police on (04) 6099999 or the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (who also help male victims) on (04) 6060300. 

This story features in the June issue

Image: Getty

* Names changed to protect identity