British Journal of Criminology Volume: 33 Issue: 3 Dated: (Summer 1993) Pages: 400-415
This paper presents the findings of an exploratory study of how English men experience criminally defined physical violence; the study places men's responses explicitly within a framework that takes masculinity seriously.
Open-ended interviews, designed to explore how assault affected their lives, were conducted with 33 men. All experienced some emotional and physical injury, and 19 reported more than one experience of violent victimization in adulthood. Legal categories of recorded crimes ranged from actual and grievous bodily harm, street robbery, and aggravated burglary to common assault. The men located their emotional, physical, and social responses to victimization in relation to being men. The frame of masculinity was quite apparent; the men admitted their reluctance to speak about the injuries they suffered and their feelings related to the assaults. Negotiating physical violence while growing up was a backdrop to the men's lives. Further, some men grew up in households with varying amounts of domestic violence. The male frame was a core component in making sense of other men's behavior. Male accounts of the effects of assault ranged from the immediate to those lingering over several weeks and months and even extending over years. At the time of assault, the impact was generally one of shock, fear, anger, and/or disbelief. The reaction reported most consistently was that of fear. Physical injuries ranged from bruising to severe internal and external injuries. Overall, in viewing victimization through a male frame, male victims saw victimization as rendering them weak and helpless. This created difficulties for men in expressing feelings, leaving them isolated and unable to ask for support. Moreover, men seemed to externalize blame, as opposed to women who tend to internalize blame when victimized. 51 references and 7 footnotes