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An Anonymous story

I've never reported it to anyone, and it's ancient history with no lasting physical damage to me. However I get increasingly annoyed at initiatives -presumably with Gov funding - like the current range of UK TV  adverts where body parts are checking phones and telling (clearly male) audience not to control or abuse people.
When I was an undergraduate at a UK University, there was a really bad male to female ratio, 7:1. So when I got into a relationship with a great girl I thought it was brilliant.
The problem was she started to manipulate me. This gradually got worse and worse. If I didn't do exactly what she wanted, she would beat me. The stupid thing was it was like boiling a frog, I didn't realise how bad it was getting.  I'd been brought up not to hit a lady, so she pretty much knew she had free run to vent her frustration at me. 
It seemed funny to people looking in, she was 1.6m tall and I am 1.8m. I was twice her weight.  I remember friends laughing when she barged into a pub and hit me with closed fists five or six times because I dared to go there with my friends - soon after she upped the ante in trying to drive a wedge between our group. She failed.
One time she fell asleep on my parent's sofa, when she woke she saw me smiling and decided I was mocking her, so once again she hit me, closed fists, several times. However she had not realised a family member was in the room who saw this. They didn't laugh. They started to tell me to get out of the relationship, not to rescue it, not to give it a short break, but to get out. I wish I'd listened. I guess I did on some level.
This was my first real relationship, and I'd been brought up religiously, obviously not that religiously, but enough for me to wonder what the hell I'd do after we split. It was bloody stupid in hindsight.
None of this is a particularly masculine trait, the getting hit repeatedly by a girl, the not thinking "well, I've had my fun, time to chase different tail.." but it ended, eventually. My regret is I didn't end it. I don't know how many of my friends remember her attacking me, or what they actually think of it all.
It was all about 20-18 years ago, long gone now, and not something I wish to take action about.
I only started thinking about it after an article I read about 4 years ago, until then I'd not thought of it as domestic violence, or control. I just thought "She hits me".  As I had no frame of reference it was just normal, and it wasn't leaving marks initially.  I know I don't remember everything.
I've only just started to talk about it, 6 months ago with a colleague on a business trip. I was actually surprised he didn't laugh, I'd spoken of it factually but in a way to compare how bad a situation could be, expecting a laugh. Instead he was surprisingly supportive, and I actually realised I didn't care if he told anyone else or not.
I've never reported it, so it doesn't show in statistics. I think I need to change that, it's an unreported problem and may affect many, many men out there who, Like me consider themselves lesser for being hurt by their girlfriends.
As I said, no physical damage persists. I know she's gone on to be more successful than me in the work place than I ever have. I do recognise these events back 20-18 years ago do still affect my relationships with women.
I'm glad I was taught never to hit a lady- otherwise it could have completely messed up my life as I could have snapped, hurt her and ended up in prison as no one would believe a woman could beat a man to the point the man hurts her.
We need young men to realise this is not normal, it isn't healthy, and you should get out of this situation. Confide in people, they are more supportive than you think.

J's story

After three physical assaults on me, I went to the Domestic Violence unit at the local police.  I explained that I was terrified that if I ended the relationship I'd never see my daughter again as my ex had threatened this.  They told me that if I called the police in case of another attack I would be able to decide if my ex was prosecuted - they wouldn't normally prosecute if I didn't agree to testify in court.  I decided to call the police next time in the hope that it would be a final warning and the violence and threats would stop.

The next incident was a frenzied episode with a hammer but luckily it wasn't used on me - just to smash up the house around me to intimidate me.  She spent a night at the police station.  The final warning didn't do the trick though.  When there was another assault on me I was terrified that she would take our daughter and leave if I supported a prosecution so I got the police to record it as a 'misunderstanding'.

I saw a divorce lawyer but couldn't get any advice as to how to end the marriage but not lose my daughter.  Over a period of time I'd become her main carer but I was worried that no one would believe this.  In the end I filed for divorce and an emergency interim residence order for our daughter but before it came to court my ex moved out, took our daughter and denied me contact with her.

In court a CAFCASS officer spent 15 minutes with me and then 15 minutes with my ex.  My ex played the 'mother card', turned on tears and claimed that everything I said was lies.  On the basis of his utterly unprofessional assessment the CAFCASS officer decided that our daughter wasn't at risk.

I've been struggling in the family courts for two years now.  In some ways I've done really well.  I didn't find myself homeless like some men do and I'm getting to see my daughter quite a lot now.  It's a dreadful and isolating experience though.  Hardly anyone seems to realise how much it affects you and the extent of the bias there is in the family courts.  Domestic violence by men is taken seriously and rightly so.  Domestic violence by women is treated as unimportant, is minimised, excused and blamed on the victims.