KUALA LUMPUR - Men in abusive relationships are advised to come forward and share their problems, say experts.
Psychiatrist Dr Zuraidah Ahmad Sabki of Universiti Malaya said society often saw women at the receiving end of abuse and this needed to be corrected.
"We must see marital abuse cases with a holistic approach and not at the gender aspect although wife battering cases are high."
Dr Zuraidah was commenting on the 17 husband-battering cases reported last year which was revealed by the Sarawak Welfare Department on Thursday.
"Abused husbands should relate their problems to someone, even a friend, before the situation turns ugly."
She added that abused women often had support from various bodies but men did not have the same support. Dr Zuraidah said the number of husband-battering cases might be higher as men were often shy to lodge a report.
"It is the social and cultural norm to expect men to be the stronger sex both physically and emotionally, but when they are abused, men often feel emasculated and do not wish to report the incident."
Enrich Counselling and Therapy Centre registered counsellor Yvonne Lee agreed that "many male abuse cases went unreported".
"The reason an abuse occurs is due to pent-up anger, frustrations and unmet expectations from the other spouse, and this may or may not result in physical abuse."
Lee said it was important to address the conflict immediately even if it was small as the suppressed anger could do more harm.
Family law practitioner R. Pushpamalar said the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) 1994, though predisposed to assisting wives, could still protect husbands and children.
Pushpamalar said she once had a burly male client who complained that his second "wife" often hit him with a rolling pin.
But, she said after investigations, it was found that the "wife" was actually his mistress, and the case was null under the DVA as it only helped those who were legally married.
According to the Welfare Department, the number of domestic violence cases nationwide, in which men were the victims, registered at 12 in 2007, 13 in 2008, 14 in 2009, 26 in 2010 and 25 last year.